Women’s Comedy Night is Back!

They say good things come in threes – so we’ve brought back our annual Women’s Comedy Night fundraiser for a third year! On November 14th, join some of Winnipeg’s funniest women in supporting life-changing theatre.

Dana SmithReturning as host for her third year is Dana Smith. Dana Smith runs the successful monthly Women’s Open Mic and is a member of the sketch group HUNKS. She’s been featured in Just for Laughs Northwest, the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, Chicago Sketchfest, San Francisco Sketchfest, Edmonton’s Improvaganza, and has recorded for Sirius XM radio.

 

 

ElissaElissa Black Wolf Kixen will be producing the event for the first time. Elissa is an Anishinaabe Two Spirit Comedian whose roots lay in Couchiching First Nation, Ontario. They have travelled across Canada and the USA as a Comedian and improviser. They use comedy as a tool in dealing with racism, homophobia, and sexism. They are the co-founder/producer of WOKE Comedy Hour and have been featured on APTN’s The Laughing Drum and serve as the Manitoba Ambassador for the Canadian Association of Stand-up Comedians. They also co-produce Queer and Present Danger with Chanty Morastica.

 

Meet the comedians who will be tickling your funny bones:

ana.jpgAna Damaskin is Russian-Canadian that relocated to Winnipeg from Maritimes 6 years ago after she mistook a cult for yoga retreat and gave up all possession. She’s self-realized aging hipster who has bike, drinks kombucha, and enjoy soothing sounds of white-noise machine. She has performed at Queer & Present Danger and multiple alt-comedy show at Wee Johnny’s. She brings dark, tongue-in-cheek twist to her comedy. Currently in year-long beef with Shoppers Drug Mart for gifting anti-aging creams on her 29th birthday. She asks that you please read comedian biography in Russian accent.

 

dione-e1539269226842.jpgDione C. Haynes is a product of the Caribbean and South America, living on Treaty One Land. She is a writer, poet, and co-producer of WOKE Comedy Hour, fresh off their run at Winnipeg Fringe 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

MayranMayran Kalah is a Comedian from the bushes of Somalia and brings her experiences of displacement to the stage. She is one year into comedy and is a staple performer of WOKE Comedy Hour. She brings her A-Game every time she enters the stage.

 

 

danielle.jpgDanielle Kayahara is a benevolent cat owner and relative newcomer to the Winnipeg comedy scene. Fuelled by equal parts anxiety and caffeine, she remains convinced that the former has nothing to do with the latte. Danielle has appeared in the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, the Winnipeg Comedy Showcase, and the Winnipeg Comedy Festival. She is excited to bring her unique blend of storytelling and silliness to the stage in support of Sarasvàti Productions.

 

Dawn Lavand (2)Born and raised in Winnipeg, Dawn Lavand is a city slicker is of Cree and Ojibwe descent. A former youth in care, child actress, and a former great deal of other things; she strives to share her teachings/lessons learned along her journey in a good way.  She possesses a bright and extroverted personality with a quick wit that contributes to her ability to engage and build community by sharing her story through humourous anecdotes you are sure to enjoy. Dawn believes that laughter is medicine, so come out and get a dose.

 

Angie St. MarsPlus we are super excited to include our former producer of the event! Angie St. Mars is a Winnipeg-based comedian who has been accused of “lighting it all on fire!” with her tongue-in-cheek feminist-fueled wit. She has been featured multiple times at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, ODDBLOCK Comedy Festival, the Winnipeg Comedy Showcase, and Queer and Present Danger. She is a staple on the live comedy game show Pants on Fire and has performed alongside such notable comedians as Jess Salomon, Eman El Husseini, and Kevin McDonald. She is proud to have opened for the likes of Paul Rabliauskas, Mike Rita, and 2018 Juno Award recipient for Comedy Album of the Year, Ivan Decker.

 

You can catch these hilarious comics at two different performances on November 14th: a 7PM show and a racier version at 9:30PM! This year, we’ve relocated to Club 200 (190 Garry St), which is an accessible venue. Last year we sold out the early show and came close with the late night edition, so don’t miss out – get your tickets today!

 

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Perogies & Puns Fundraiser – Stuffed with Fun!

Nothing says “Manitoba” quite like perogies – but be warned, these aren’t your Baba’s stuffed dumplings. On March 3rd, join us for our province’s favourite dumpling and some hilarious comedy with Perogies & Puns – a gourmet perogy pop-up dinner! This is a one-time event to raise money to support the transformative theatre work of Sarasvàti Productions.

There will be five courses of perogy deliciousness, including vegan and gluten-free options so every Manitoban can chow down! Providing the perogies will be Chef Keith Csabak, who runs the kitchen at Forth. Mississauga-born, Keith comes from a European-Slavic background so he is more than familiar with the art of perogies! His dough recipe has been passed down through his family with a few modifications made for the gluten-free crowd. The menu for the event includes a beef stroganoff with peppercorn gravy (lentil substitute for vegans), ‘twice baked’ perogy with crab and cheddar, kimchi-style sauerkraut, dill pickle-chip with potato filling and a corn gravy, and blueberry-saskatoon perogies with berry coulis for dessert!

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Angie St. Mars

On the pun side are local comedians Angie St. Mars and Mike Green. In addition to being our former Associate Producer, Angie is a Winnipeg-based comedian and sketch comic known for her tongue-in-cheek feminist-fueled wit. She has been featured multiple times in the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, ODDBLOCK Comedy Festival, the Winnipeg Comedy Showcase, and Queer and Present Danger. She is a staple of the live comedy game show ‘Pants on Fire’ as the team captain of the team that always wins. You can catch her regularly as part of the monthly show, The Rhythm Section at Wee Johnny’s.

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Mike Green

Mike Green has told jokes for years on stages all across the country, including touring with the Raise the Woof fundraiser shows benefitting animal shelters across Canada. He has been building a reputation for the past seven years by working with some of the top comedic acts in North America as well as freelance work with the CBC. He’s always eager to get onstage at any type of show, from running a weekly open mic for the past six years, hosting the inaugural ODDBLOCK Festival, and performing six years in a row with the Winnipeg Comedy Festival.

Pulling the event all together is Delta Hirsch. Delta is a second-year Creative Communications student at Red River College who really likes food. For the past two years, Delta has been a member of the Fundraising and Development Committee with Sarasvàti Productions. She has worked on Perogies & Puns for the past year, hoping to help Sarasvàti continue to present significant social issues, like mental health and equality.

The dinner is Saturday, March 3 from 7 – 10 PM. Seating is limited, so get your tickets today! Tickets are $50 and available here. You can also check out the event on Facebook or contact Delta for sponsorship opportunities.

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Looking Back on a Remarkable Year

Wow! It’s hard to believe how much can happen in a year. This week we look back on our greatest endeavours of 2017 made possible due to the amazing support of our donors, funders, volunteers, artists and community partners!

  • Theatre Workshops with North End Youth

We launched into 2017 with a focused series of theatre workshops for North End youth. Youth Coordinators Frances Koncan and Cherrel Holder alongside a series of guest artists introduced theatre techniques and worked on scenes with youth. On February 22nd we celebrated with a showcase of the youth involved. We have already heard from multiple youth that they have decided to pursue theatre and we have had the pleasure of continuing to work with these youth in skill-focused workshops and mentorship sessions. We are thrilled to be continuing with a series of theatre workshops at Children of the Earth School in the New Year!

“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to study theatre but now I’m sure!” – Sabil, Youth Participant

  • International Women’s Week

Last March, ten amazing women took to the stage in our International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues. The theme was Starting Over, sharing stories of displacement, resettlement and life-changing moments. We toured to new community venues like North End Family Centre. We were so honoured to facilitate the sharing of these crucial perspectives which are all too often silenced.

“The performances took place in our typically very busy and noisy drop in space. However, the performances were so captivating that you could have heard a pin drop!”
-Kristi Beaune, Mount Carmel Clinic
“Our students connected with what the presenters were saying on a deep level. I would highly recommend the monologues.”
-Rob Visch, Principal St. Aidan’s Christian School

  • Launch of New Beginnings15781754_10211121667098878_6849065531477230353_n

We used the story-gathering conducted for International Women’s Week as a spring board to soar into our next community-based project: New Beginnings. We began reaching out to artists and meeting with partner organizations. In September, we gave audiences a sneak peek at what we have in the works at a FemFest preview. From May 22-27, 2018 you can witness the coming together of a diverse range of artists, community members, recent newcomers and established immigrants. Through the use of dance, music, visual art and storytelling we will share stories of resettlement.

“Great evening at FemFest and Sarasvati production of New Beginnings! Congratulations to Rosemary Kezaabu and Gertrude Hambira, two of the women who told their stories.” – Mary Scott, Audience Member
“It was such a wonderful night yesterday! So glad I was able to participate in this project.” – Patricia Gordon, Performer

  • FemFest 2017: Coming of Age

This FemFest audiences and artists came together to celebrate 15 years of life-changing theatre.  We were proud to present such provocative touring shows as Watching Glory Die by Judith Thompson. We had some incredible first-times, partnering with the West End Cultural Centre to present Tomboy Survival Guide and partnering with the Millennium Library to present The Human Library! It was so rewarding to offer filmmaker Sonya Ballantyne her first opportunity to direct for the stage with Two Indians. We were proud to honour some of Winnipeg’s most prolific female playwrights at the One Night Stand and toast to 15 years. Believe it or not planning has already begun for FemFest 2018!

“…one of the most incredible and moving pieces of art I have ever seen” – Tatiana Carnevale, Audience Member at Tomboy Survival Guide at FemFest 2017
“Wow. I have not been so moved by a piece of theatre for a long time” – Cheryl Costen, Audience Member at Watching Glory Die at FemFest 2017

  • Second Annual Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser

Thanks to two fantastic audiences and eight hilarious comedians we almost sold out two back-to-back shows for our Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser. We heard nothing but glowing remarks from audience members. We can’t wait for next year!

“Awesome” – Audience Member
“Everyone is so talented!” – Audience Member

  • Workshops for Emerging Artists

    This season we’ve provided workshops and mentorship in theatre design, tech, directing, auditioning and more! One of the highlights was our playwriting masterclass with master playwright, Judith Thompson. We aren’t slowing down anytime soon! You can look forward to workshops in vocal technique, auditioning , dramaturgy and more in 2018!

    “Extremely beneficial. Going through the audition process (before, during, after) has made me feel that I have a much better idea of how the process works, especially with professional companies.” – Participant in Auditioning 101
    “All of it was pure gold.”
    – Participant in Coffee with Ann Hodges

We also rebooted our One Night Stand series with three opportunities throughout the year for playwrights to test material under the amazing leadership of Tatiana Carnevale!

  • COMMUNITY

This year also allowed us to work with several amazing community organizations. From doing workshops with youth leaders at SEED to presenting an overview of our work for the Council of Women of Winnipeg and PCWM. The largest initiative was the amazing experience preparing Can You See Me Now in partnership with West Central Women’s Resource Centre.  The women shared their experience of homelessness with such power that it truly opened eyes and hearts.

Here’s to another year of making and experiencing tranformative theatre together!

Talking Comedy with Kate Schellenberg

Kate Schellenberg - Headshot (2)So far this year Kate Schellenberg has performed at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, Oddblock Comedy Festival and Rumor’s Comedy Club. After being a stand-out in the Rumor’s Roast Battle, Kate began producing and hosting her own Roast Off at Wee Johnny’s. She was recently named one of CBC Manitoba’s Future 40 young change-makers. We are so glad to have this unstoppable force of comedy in our Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser on November 15th.

Why do you do stand-up comedy?

KS: Because telling jokes to my house plants stopped being fulfilling after a while and my parents started screening my calls. Honestly, I think it is a special gift when you can make people laugh and bring them joy. There is a special connection you make with people when you make them laugh and I love the feeling I get when I do.

What drives you to talk about the things you talk about on stage?

KS: I mostly talk about dating, my mom and the embarrassing things that happen to me on a daily basis. I talk about these things on stage because I think so many people take themselves too seriously and are afraid to be vulnerable (myself included!) I love challenging myself to laugh about a really bad date or feeling too hairy. I think it opens up other people to talk more about these things in real life.

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Kate hosting the Wee Johnny’s Roast Off

What are you looking forward to about the women’s comedy night fundraiser?

KS: Probably the jello shots that I will bring and invite the other comedians to take with me! Any show that features a lot of female comedians always has an amazing energy and vibe that the comedians feel but the crowd also picks up on, it makes the night more enjoyable for everyone!  Secondly, it’s great to help support organizations that are actively working for good change in the performing arts world.

What would you say to someone who has never been to a Winnipeg comedy show?

KS: Comedy fans, if you have never been to a show that features all female and female-identifying comedians, do yourself a favor, come! Every comic on this show is a real heavy-hitter and will be bringing their a-game (is that enough sports metaphors for you?) Come see these comedians do their best stuff and support a great cause!

Our second annual Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser is at the King’s Head Pub and tickets are just $15! The early show at 7pm is just about SOLD OUT and the 9:30pm racier show is starting to fill up as well. Get those tickets!

Talking Comedy with Danielle Kayahara

The Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser brings you eight hilarious comedians with eight diverse comedic styles. Danielle Kayahara did her first ever open mic this past May. Her unique blend of honest observation and storytelling made her an instant favourite among crowds and comedians alike. Since then, Danielle has been lighting up stages all over Winnipeg, including being featured in the Winnipeg Comedy Festival’s Comedy All Year: Winnipeg Women.  This week, we talked comedy with the undeniably funny Danielle Kayahara.

What drives you to talk about the things you talk about on stage?

Danielle Kayahara - HeadshotDK: I think too much and I worry too much, I’m not sure I could keep that off of the stage if I tried. I like finding silliness in everyday experiences because it takes some of the seriousness out of the world. Sometimes it means over analyzing etiquette, other times it’s pointing out flaws in technology, sometimes it means anthropomorphizing my cat, and other times it’s confessing that I had to Google “anthropomorphizing” to make sure I knew what it meant and could spell it properly. I’m drawn toward the idea that we’re all more alike than we realize, and as strange or exaggerated as a joke might be, I like to think there’s still something relatable at its core.

Why stand up comedy?

DK: That’s a question I ask myself all the time! It’s terrifying and anxiety-inducing but for some reason, I keep coming back. There’s something magical about bringing people together in a moment of laughter and shared understanding. As a fan of comedy, I’ve always loved those moments and now I do what I can to try and create them.

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Danielle Kayahara on stage at Winnipeg Comedy Festival’s Comedy All Year: Winnipeg Women

What are you looking forward to about the Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser?

DK: I’m looking forward to having a chance to perform alongside some amazingly talented comedians and all for a great cause. I’ve been lucky enough to find my voice through comedy, Sarasvàti Productions helps give a voice to meaningful stories which might otherwise go unheard.

What would you say to someone who has NEVER been to a Winnipeg comedy show?

DK: To those who have never been to a Winnipeg comedy show, I was like you once. I didn’t even know that Winnipeg had comedy shows. I didn’t know that I could spend an evening watching a show and giggling uncontrollably in a fantastic pub environment. Now, I regret that I was kept in the dark for so long! To those who are fans of comedy, I feel as though there isn’t much to say. I know that as a fan, if I didn’t have the honor of performing at this show, I’d already have my ticket. Either way, come check out this show, support an awesome cause, bring your friends, enjoy some drinks and laugh all of the laughs.

The Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser sold out last year. Get your tickets in advance!
Womens Comedy Night Fundraiser 2017

Women’s Comedy Night: The Sequel!

Our Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser was so popular in 2016 that we decided to bring it back for another year! Some of Winnipeg’s funniest women take to the stage November 15th at the King’s Head Pub (120 King St).  Returning as host is fabulous comedian Dana Smith.

The night will feature a diverse line-up of local comedians at different levels of experience, from seasoned pros to emerging newcomers. Check them out!

Dana Smith.JPGDana Smith runs the very successful Women’s Open Mic Comedy show at Wee Johnny’s Irish Pub, which has been regularly featured in CBC’s Top 5 Things to Do in Winnipeg. It has also sparked a vibrant community of women who do stand-up comedy in Winnipeg. She has been featured in JFL Northwest (Vancouver), Oddblock Comedy Festival, and the Winnipeg Comedy Festival.

 

Anjali Sandhu - Headshot

Anjali Sandhu is a Winnipeg-based comedian, actor and writer. She performed stand-up at the SheDot Comedy Festival in Toronto as well as Sirius XM’s Next Top Comic and The Park Theatre’s Empow(her)ment. Anjali is currently working on her first solo stand-up show, I’m Not Taylor Swift.

 

 

Carole Cunningham headshot.jpgCarole Cunningham has been performing since 2015 and is a regular at Women’s Open Mic. Carole has performed in the Winnipeg Comedy Festival and has produced several shows, including Token 2016. A regular host at Crickets Comedy Club, Carole’s dry and observational humour addresses marriage, children, and navigating life as a woman over thirty-five.

 

danielle-kayahara-headshot.jpgDanielle Kayahara is a benevolent cat owner and relative newcomer to the Winnipeg comedy scene. Fuelled by equal parts anxiety and caffeine, she remains convinced that the former has nothing to do with the latte. Danielle is extremely excited to have the opportunity to bring her unique blend of storytelling and silliness to the stage in support of a worthy cause.

 

Florence SpenceFlorence Spence is a stand-up comedian from York Factory Cree Nation. Raised in both Winnipeg and the reserve, she has been able to translate the hardships of growing up with seven brothers, being a single parent of three and now a grandmother, into comedy gold. Her witty observations and captivating stage presence set Florence Spence up to be your next favorite comedian.

 

Heather Witherden - Headshot.jpgHeather Witherden is also known as “Winnipeg’s Favourite Wisecracking Mom”. From the north end of Main Street, Heather got married, had three kids, and started writing jokes in the baby book to amuse herself. She finally got onstage with her jokes in 2006 and had since appeared at Rumors Comedy Club, The Winnipeg Comedy Festival, CBC Radio’s Definitely Not the Opera, and So You Think You’re Funny.

 

Kate Schellenberg - Headshot (2).JPGKate Schellenberg is originally from the East Coast. She got tired of the mild winters, cheap lobster, and being near the ocean, so she packed her bags and headed to Manitoba. So far this year, she has appeared at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, Oddblock Comedy Festival, and Rumors Comedy club where her honest and self-deprecating style made her a favorite with local crowds.

 

Lara Rae headshot.jpgLara Rae is a thirty-year veteran of stand-up. She is the A.D of the Winnipeg Comedy Festival and was the first trans woman to host the CBC national program, The Current. She lives in West Broadway with her two rats, Frida and Nina, named after two awesome role models.

 

 

2016 showed us that one show simply wasn’t enough, so we decided to double your chances of seeing some hilarious comedy! This year we’ll have an early show (doors at 5:30, show at 7PM) and a racier late-night performance (doors at 9, show at 9:30PM). Tickets are just $15 and available here. Get them before they’re gone and support a great cause!

Summer Students make Strides at Sarasvàti

A world premiere, general auditions, FemFest brochure launch, outreach, a fundraising dinner, Timeraiser display, garage sale – how have we managed all of this in the last month? We’ve been very fortunate to welcome two hard-working summer students to team Sarasvàti thanks to Canada Summer Jobs. They’ve pitched in on so many important tasks and now they’re working on our 2017-18 Season Launch. Tamera and Larysa bring dedication and fresh ideas to the table and we are so pleased to hear from them in this week’s blog entry.

“I am proud to be at Sarasvàti Productions and to work in a community with a strong social conscience”, says Tamera, who began working as our Production Assistant in May.

TameraGrace-grown-FemFest17“So far my highlight of the summer was when I was backstage during Breaking Through. The cast and crew were all magnificent, as well as the story. It was very life-giving to support them through a smooth run of the show, as well as making sure everyone was comfortable and ready.

Aside from being able to work on their spring production, I have been spending most of my time in the office. This is my first time working in an office; it has been a good opportunity to improve my professional skills.”

Tamera is working on completing her double degree in Theatre and Business at the U of W.

“My original plan was to focus on acting, but I will be graduating with a focus in acting as well as production and business. For me, working with Sarasvàti has really clarified my desire to work in the not-for-profit sector. I want to continue finding opportunities to support those in the community.”

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Tamera Grace at TimeRaiser150 with Hope McIntyre looking for great new Sarasvàti volunteers.

“One of the great things about Sarasvati Productions is the opportunity it creates for discussion and understanding”, says Larysa, our Marketing & Community Outreach Assistant.

“Getting over fifty people to sit in one room, eat Ethiopian food, smell Ethiopian coffee beans, and listen to a difficult true story about becoming a refugee is no easy thing to organize. But, I think, this type of event is necessary for building healthy and strong communities. Like me, the people who listened to Saeed’s story may walk away feeling more empathy than they felt before. And that is no small achievement.”

IMG_4303Larysa is a Creative Communications student at Red River College and the director of Winnipeg Poetry Slam. She talks about her favourite experience while working with Sarasvàti—working at the Honouring Courage – Celebrating Diversity fundraiser dinner with human rights activist and speaker, Ali Saeed.

“We’re used to thinking of revenge as a bad thing. We think of threat, torture, and war. Ali Saeed calls this ‘red revenge’. But Saeed says there is one other type of revenge just as compelling: kindness, compassion and generosity. His word for this is ‘green revenge.’

Seven years Saeed spent imprisoned and sentenced to death in Somalia. Now he’s speaking to a roomful of people here at Gohe Restaurant for Sarasvàti Productions’ fundraiser. The entire room is quiet. The people I’m sitting with grimace and look downward.

Saeed talks about the cruelty he witnessed: forced abortion, lashings, hanging, cutting. Listening to Saeed, I am reminded of the safety I have here in Canada, a true luxury.

On his feet, Saeed wears loose Velcro sandals. He points to the burn marks on his heels, marks from the hardship he endured. Sandals are one of the few shoes he’ll wear because of the pain. Barefoot is preferable.

‘No one chooses to be a refugee,’ Saeed says.”

Larysa says working for Sarasvàti Productions has opened her mind to experiences outside of her own, which has been an invaluable experience.

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Larysa Musick at Honouring Courage – Celebrating Diversity Fundraiser Dinner for Sarasvàti Productions at Gohe Restaurant.

You can see some of their awesome ideas in action at the 2017-18 Season Launch, Friday August 4th 7pm at the Saddlery on Market (114 Market Ave).