Songi-deewin: Here & Now

Progress towards phase two of the Reconciliation Through Theatre Project is underway! Our first phase of workshops was crucial to phase two and the final product. From the art and stories shared by youth at our Seven Visions workshops series, an artistic team with on-going youth advisement will compile a multi-media piece to be performed in May, 2020. We are happy to announce the official title for the final performance, Songi-deewin: Here & Now!

We are also pleased to announce just a few of the initial team members as we move in to our next phase.


Jo MacDonaldJo MacDonald – Playwright/Dramaturg

Jo MacDonald is Anishinaabe, a mom, theatre fan, writer, and an Educator. She gave up dreams of super-villainy as it wasn’t as lucrative as depicted at the job fairs (false advertising…but then again what can you expect from an evil genius job pitch?). She received her BA and B.Ed. from the University of Winnipeg.  Jo had her Winnipeg Fringe debut with her comedy play Mother’s Little Secret in July 2018. Jo’s play NEECHIE-ITAS premiered in Oklahoma in June 2019.


Darla Contois – CollaboratorPicture1

We are pleased to have the workshop facilitator from the first phase continue in making sure the stories shared by youth are honoured in the script. Darla Contois is a Cree-Salteaux performer, playwright, and facilitator. She graduated from the Centre for Indigenous Theatre’s professional training program in 2014, attended David Smukler’s National Voice Intensive and premiered her solo show White Man’s Indian at Summerworks 2017 in Toronto where she was awarded the Emerging Artist Award. Since relocating to her hometown, she is passionate about using her theatre experience to uplift and empower Indigenous youth in Winnipeg. Darla was last seen in Prairie Theatre Exchange’s production of Happy Place.


IMG_3822_Facetune_08-11-2019-11-57-11Bear Harper – Mural Artist

We are also excited to introduce, Bear Harper. Bear was one of the youth at our Children of the Earth workshop back in June, as part of our Seven Visions workshop series. Bear created a sketch that caught our attention and prompted Sarasvàti to approach Bear for our Reconciliation Through Theatre performance in May. We have commissioned Bear to create a mural based on his sketch from June to be displayed as part of the performance in May 2020.

Bear graduated from COTE in 2018. He has spent most of his life sketching and began to explore painting more once in High School. Bear has had some art displayed at local grocery stores and art shows, but the mural will be his first big project. Bear is ecstatic to be creating something that he feels is meaningful and progressive. He cannot thank his support group enough. Through any and all trauma and hardships, he is overwhelmed with the support and love from friends and family.


Job Opportunity

We are also looking to hire an Indigenous production team for the May 2020 performance. Indigenous set, lighting, costume and sound designers are all welcome to apply! Candidates will be compensated and must be able to work independently, we will accept submissions from those with transferable skills/experience as well. To apply, send in your resume to info@sarasvati.ca before 11:59PM on Friday, November 22, 2019.

Production Team(1)


Currently, we are exploring themes, material and everything else that will go into Songi-deewin: Here & Now. Stay tuned for more information! Visit our website for more information on phase one.


 

Reconciliation: It’s Not Scary!

Nope, these aren’t Halloween masks. They’re the creation of youth from Knowles Centre, just one example of product from our The Art of Reconciliation workshops!

Reconciliation through theatre is not a one-day job. Since April, our team has joined community organizations to facilitate workshops with youth in the name of Reconciliation and completed the final workshop on October 24, 2019. The amazing team behind these innovate workshops is comprised of Nova Courchene- Project Coordinator, Marsha Knight- Indigenous Outreach Coordinator, and Darla Contois- Workshop Facilitator. Most workshops were also facilitated by various guest Indigenous artists.

DSC_0475We were also happy to host a fundraiser event on October 23, 2019. The fundraiser was a huge success, with a delicious indigenous 1491 meal prepared by Steven Watson and special guest artist KC Adams who spoke beautifully on her experience as an Indigenous artist. The fundraiser helped support Sarasvàti’s transformative theatre work.

We asked Nova Courchene to comment on Reconciliation Through Theatre as we wrap the first phase of the project, she spoke passionately on the subject…Nova Courchene Headshot

“It’s been an emotional, but amazing experience to work with youth who have experienced so much in their lives as Indigenous youth. The youth we had the privilege to work with and get to know on a very personal level shared their experiences and how they view reconciliation, how racism has affected their experiences, and stories about their everyday lives.”

Each workshop offered something unique – whether it be painting, drawing, rapping or acting. The workshops offered a creative outlet that allowed the youth to thrive and demonstrate their talents as young artists.

“We’ve met such talented and creative young emerging artists. From charismatic budding actors who stole the show, to extremely talented visual artists including comic story tellers, to gifted painters, sketchers, costume designers, and various other visual arts.”

Now that the workshops have concluded, phase two of the project begins. All of the art and stories collected throughout the workshop process will be compiled by our team. We will welcome playwrights Jo MacDonald and other artists as we work towards finding the most exciting way to turn the work in to a performance in May 2020 at The Forks. However, the work with the community doesn’t end there!

DSC_0395The preparation has begun for the next stages and we are currently in search of established and emerging Indigenous talent as set designer, costume designer, lighting designer and other production team members.

It is important to us to maintain the relationship with the community throughout this entire project. This is why we are on the lookout for Indigenous community members who would like to be involved with the second phase of this project. If you or someone you know has experience in production please send us an email at info@sarasvati.ca or feel free to give us a call at (204) 586-2236!

Stay tuned for more information on Reconciliation Through Theatre and the final performance in 2020!

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Coming Up Next…

With the glitter swept off the stage, the Bake-Off winner crowned and the touring companies headed home; FemFest 2019 has come and gone. Now comes the question, what’s next for Sarasvàti Productions?


MARCH MONOLOGUES

As always our annual International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues will take place this upcoming March. IWW Cabaret of Monologues is a touring production that features monologues and performance pieces by various women on various subjects. Be sure to stay tuned for more information on the Cabaret!32368407097_56886e8a14_z


RECONCILIATION

Another exciting project and our current main focus of the season, is on Reconciliation Through Theatre.

Over the past few months, Sarasvàti Productions has been holding a series of workshops at 7 different youth organizations, in the spirit of art and reconciliation. Organizations worked with so far include, Wahbung, Children of the Earth High School, Ndinawe, and DSC09386IDLII. In the next month we will also work with youth at Marymound, Knowles Centre and Manitoba Youth Centre. Youth are creating amazing art work that expresses what reconciliation means to them. All of the artwork and stories shared will be compiled into a final performance at The Forks, May 2020. Reconciliation is the restoration of friendly relations. It is a simple concept, but challenging to achieve when much reparation needs to be done. As a true community collaboration, the final performance will come directly from participants working alongside professional artists.

In support of this final event, we will be hosting a fundraiser called The Art of Reconciliation!

68928970_10157632839367533_3029259069731897344_nOn October 23rd, you are invited to join us at Crossways in Common (222 Furby Street) for a special dinner with a 1491 menu, a cash wine bar and special award-winning multi-media artist KC Adams. All proceeds will go towards the funding of our 2020 event. The youth and community members have worked so hard to create moving and captivating art work, from paintings, to sewing and written words of wisdom and hope. Help us open up the conversation to as wide an audience as possible!

The results and lessons learned from the project will also have a long-term impact with changes to Sarasvàti’s practices moving forward. We are so grateful to be working within our community and hearing the stories of those who come out to our workshops.

For more information on The Art of Reconciliation, visit our website HERE.65204148_10157491192852533_8197606934581346304_n


WORKSHOPS

Finally we are preparing this year’s workshop series for artists. We had full to capacity sessions at FemFest including a Pop Art Performance workshop and playwriting masterclass. There will be plenty more opportunities for professional development. Stay tuned for the full calendar and in the meantime to whet your appetite join our Artistic Director, Hope McIntyre, for Creating the Space For Empathy, Risk & Growth In Theatre Training. She and Shannon Vickers with moderator Krista Jackson will gather for a sharing circle about how we can begin to create change in theatre school training. Hope and Shannon recently attended the Got Your Back Canada National Educators conference that identified issues in theatre training and will be sharing key ideas from this national discussion as well as possible new approaches. October 7, 2019 at 7pm at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (University of Winnipeg – 400 Colony St).

Everyone and Their Mother

Local Winnipeg mother/daughter pairs will play part in FemFest 2019: All the World’s a Stage! Like Mother, Like Daughter is coming to FemFest this year as one of our touring shows, with Why Not Theatre and Complicité Creative Learning. However all the mother and daughter participants are local.  Like Mother, Like Daughter takes real life mothers and daughters and through workshops, coffee dates and baking, build a production while still maintaining the improvised and authentic conversation on stage. This year, we have gathered indigenous and immigrant Winnipeg mother/daughter pairs for the production!

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Not only will you have the opportunity to sit in on a genuine and real conversation between the mother and daughter pairs, but each performance will be followed by a sit down dinner where audience members will have the chance to dine with the participants and continue conversation. A big shout out to Diversity Food Services for the yummy food that will be provided.


Now a brief introduction to the Mothers and Daughters…

Shirine Ali & Sabrina Bahadoosingh

Sabrina grew up in Winnipeg. She worked with (ISSA) Islamic Social Services Association as Operations Manager and managed several programs for newcomers and refugees. Shirine migrated to Winnipeg, Canada from Trinidad in the Caribbean in the mid- seventies. Shirine became a Family Therapist and has worked in the field for over twenty-five years.

Rubina Atif & Saleha Komal

Rubina Atif is from Pakistan and has been living in Canada for the last seven years with her 3 children while her husband was serving in the Pakistani Air Force. Saleha and Rubina love nature, Winnipeg’s prairie skies and the sunsets that come with it.

Dina Maranan & Mary Nadine MaranangnaHwstw.jpeg

the weekday you can find Dina working away at Pollard Banknote and Nadine on the 4th floor of the science library at the University of Manitoba. After a long day, the two are brought together by a big bag of dill pickle popcorn ready to catch up on the latest episode of Jane the Virgin.

Mary Alice Smith & Danielle Morrison

‘Niiobinessiik’ Danielle Morrison and ‘Waasegiizhigok’ Mary Alice Smith have been mother and daughter for 33 years, mostly spent in Treaty 3 territory. Danielle is Mary Alice’s youngest, and almost like an only child even though she has 8 siblings.

Hazel Perrie & Victoria Perrie

Hazel and Victoria Perrie are Manitoba grown Metis/Swampy Cree/Icelandic/English women. They have primarily resided on Treaty 1 Territory and are from the Wolf Clan. They come from a long line of very strong matriarchs, with lineage back to the arrival of the colonizers.

6BbVwwlA.jpegSybil Ramprashad & Shereen Ramprashad

I am a Colonial child born in 1943 in British Guyana. I came to Canada in 1965 to London Ontario, two London’s were never so different. My career has been mostly in the Fashion Industry working for some Canada’s Leading Clothing Companies. Miss Shereen, a dyslexic, self-taught Canadian writer based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Her writings are a lively blend of performance, wit, intelligent metaphor with under currents of subtext and observation.

April Seenie & Sienna Seenie

April Seenie is Anishnaabe (Ojibway), a mother, nursing student, and actor from Roseau River Anishnaabe Nation, raised in Winnipeg. Currently, she works for the St. Amant Centre and the First Nation Health & Social Secretariat of Manitoba, while he continues within the nursing program at Red River College. Sienna Henderson-Seenie is an Anishnaabe/Cree student, actor and dancer. She will be entering grade 11 and aspires to become a veterinarian.

Aisha Tahir, Tianna Natalya Wells, and Zaina Wells_epKGCmg.jpeg

We’re a trio with a Fommy and a pair of Irish twins. We are dramatic, multilingual and full of spicy Pakistani and Trinidadian flavours. Our family is definitely a unique one with our stories of adventures on the trains, subways and planes. We embrace all weird qualities and appropriate them for our unique individual selves.

Lucy Kaikai & Marvel Yeboah-Appiah

L: I came to Canada 15 years ago, a few months pregnant with my daughter. I was excited to be reunited with family in Canada, after living on a refugee camp, in Ghana, for almost seven years. M: I’m very thankful for my mother because she has done the best for me all my life. Who knew I would play over five instruments, work as a missionary or learn another language.

For the mother/daughter full bios, visit the show page HERE.

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Like Mother, Like Daughter has 5 shows during FemFest…

September 19th 6:30pm
September 20th 2:00pm
September 20th 6:30pm
September 21st 2:00pm
September 21st 6:30pm

The mothers and daughters have already met over a potluck meal and to bake bannock together. Rehearsals are continuing and we can not wait for you to see some authentic theatre with our own local participants!

To buy tickets visit our website HERE or call (204) 586-2236 to reserve!

FemFest 2019: All the World’s a Stage starts in only 2 days!

Exploring Responses to Reconciliation

We’re excited to share what’s come out of Seven Visions: Reconciliation through Theatre project launch! We’ve had incredible audiences over the last few days respond to the notion of reconciliation. There’s one more chance to be part of the conversation tonight at 7pm!

We’ve had a great experience so far working with the amazing artists who are part of this project – here are just some of the reasons they’re excited to be involved as we look ahead to the next phase of the project!

I’m very excited about this project because I feel like the perspective that comes forward in the play is very important – very comedic, very funny, very relatable – to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. I’m really excited to see how that affects the audience.” – Darla Contois, Performer, OUR HOME & native land and Indigenous Advisory Committee member

 

 

As an artist engaged with this project, I’m hoping to work with some youth on creating art works that really bring forward their voices and their thoughts on reconciliation and what that means to them. The interactive art work we’re creating at the theatre allows for the public to come out and have their voices heard around reconciliation as well.” – Jaime Black, Visual Artist

I think it’s really important to have reconciliation in theatre because it’s a very important way of communicating different styles. Historically speaking, theatre came from settler colonies – Britain, mainly – and First Nations and Indigenous peoples’ way of communicating and passing down knowledge has been storytelling. What is storytelling but performance and theatre? The coming together and meeting in that spot is really important for reconciliation.” – Nova Courchene, Indigenous Project Coordinator

 

 

It’s been almost three years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its final report. It put out a challenge to all Canadians. While it was a legal proceeding and even bringing to bear the need for an apology, that doesn’t really bring reconciliation. What we present is an opportunity to have a difficult discussion in a creative and stimulating environment involving youth. There will be hard discussions and there will be hard topics, but it will also be creative and full of hope.” – Myra Tait, Vice President and Indigenous Advisory Committee member

 

 

We’ve had some incredible audience responses so far as community members interact with the art installations, writing down their thoughts and responses to how each of us can do our part for reconciliation. One audience member mentioned that growing up, Indigenous peoples’ history wasn’t taught in her school and it wasn’t until much later in life that she was able to learn more about her own history. Starting this project with a focus on youth allows for an earlier connection to one’s roots. As well, discussions after OUR HOME & native land focused on how each of us can avoid being a “George”: admitting when we don’t know something and recognizing the importance of listening when others have something to teach us.

Discussions from this event will also help us as we move forward in shaping the full production for May 2020. Huge thank you to Patrick Rabago for these incredible photos from the event so far! For more information on the project, check out our website.

Bringing Seven Visions to Life

Last week we posted about what Indigenous youth brought up in our seven consultation circles, this week it’s time for visual artist Jaime Black to echo their comments in an interactive art installation!

dsc_0065.jpgJaime is a Metis multidisciplinary artist and is well known for her REDress Project which she created to give voice to the hundreds of murdered and missing Indigenous women across Canada. For this project she is finding a way to visually represent ideas of the Indigenous youth who participated in the consultation circles and transmit that to audiences of Seven Visions: Reconciliation Through Theatre. There will be an opportunity for all attending to interact with and add to visual representations as we continue the conversation of what reconciliation means.

dsc_0059.jpgAudiences will be able to participate prior to the reading of Jo MacDonald’s play OUR HOME & native land (so feel free to come early!), during intermission, or after we’ve completed the presentation. While we’ll be holding conversation circles, we understand talking about these issues may not be the best form of communication for everyone. This is why Jaime has been part of the project since the beginning. Our aim with this presentation is to share what we’ve learned so far and to gather more information on current thoughts and feelings about reconciliation and treaty relations. We want everyone to feel comfortable doing so in whatever medium they choose.

Starting Wednesday Jaime has been setting up several stations throughout the theatre. She is using a variety of materials to provide several options for audiences to engage with. Including fabric, paper, and even rocks! While that’s a lot of material, she’s still leaving room for us to set up conversation circles, and space for our actors.

DSC_0027Also helping to bring the public presentation to life are actors Darla Contois, Patricia Hunter, Kevin Klassen, Marsha Knight, and Spenser Payne with Stage Manager Tamera Grace reading stage directions! With the guidance of director Heidi Malazdrewich these actors have been hard at work rehearsing Jo’s witty play confronting treaty violations and our history. Their rehearsals have been filled with laughs and deep conversations, and we’re excited to share this play with audiences during our Seven Visions presentations!

If interactive art installations and a great cast aren’t enough incentive to come out, there will also be food at intermission. And, the presentations are pay-what-you-can-afford. What is there not to love?

Book your tickets today on our website or call our office to reserve (204-586-2236). We will also accept cash, cheque or credit card at the door. For more information please visit our website by clicking here!

 

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Consulting with Youth: Seven Visions

The first component of our Reconciliation through Theatre project is in the books! Over the past few weeks, our team has been meeting with Indigenous youth to discuss what they’d like to see for our upcoming workshop series. We’ll be sharing a full recap of these first meetings at Seven Visions: Reconciliation through Theatre running May 4-9, but read on for a teaser!

Project Coordinator Nova Courchene, Visual Artist Jaime Black, and our Indigenous Community Outreach Coordinator Marsha Knight have been hard at work meeting with youth across our seven different partner organizations.

 

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For our sessions with Ndinawe, our team looked at creating an ongoing art project for youth to drop in and add on their versions of the teachings. By giving them a way to express themselves, the youth were more likely to open up through art than chatting around a table each session. We’re excited to see how this piece will evolve over time!

At Wahbung Abinoonjiiag, participants believed parents passing along the Seven Sacred Teachings was important to help youth connect with their culture, stemming from elders down to their families and younger siblings.

For one youth, the teachings are about “history, teaching about what your ancestors did. Learning from your history, and how to be a good person.”

“Reconciliation” can mean many different things to different people. At the Indigenous Leadership Development Institute, youth shared their own definitions:

Reconciliation means fixing your wrong doings.”

Reconciling is about your past self and who you are now, and you become your true self from the meeting of the two.”

Reconciliation is about reconnecting others together, bringing people together and connecting one another.”

For youth at Children of the Earth High School, reconciliation takes on a different meaning: “Say someone burned your house down and is now helping you rebuild a house. Not just going ahead and building the house themselves, but finding out what you need in that house.” Youth were also interested in the evolution of Indigenous fashion over time, from the seventies and traditional regalia through to present day appropriation by the fashion industry. As the head of the REDress Project, Jaime was able to offer insight on the use of fashion to shine a light on missing and murdered Aboriginal women across Canada.

Possible art forms for the workshops will cover anything from film, visual art, music, animation, improv, Claymation – you name it! Our team was able to share in a smudging ceremony with the youth at Knowles Centre before kicking off their conversations. For their participants, athletics is an important a way to express themselves and build trust with new members.

For youth at Manitoba Youth Centre, there was an importance of learning about reconciliation with both sides in mind. When two members had had a conflict, they got together and talked.That was an important way to look at reconciliation without placing blame on one side.

Some organizations received an “ancestor stone” to maintain throughout the journey of the project. Marymound youth learned about the importance of the elder stones, how the spirits of their ancestors are contained in the rocks to offer guidance and support.

We’re excited to continue working with these youth and look forward to seeing the final production in May 2020! Join us for one of the 4 presentation dates between May 4 to 9 to learn more and provide input on the project.

 

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