Behind the Curtain

Art based on real experiences is the rawest of all. This year’s Cabaret of Monologues will feature four written monologues performed by different actors, while five other artists will perform their own pieces in various artistic mediums. This year’s selection contains a plethora of real-life experiences and each year, we ask the playwrights and performers to tell us a little info about themselves to share with you, our audience.

Meet some of this year’s playwrights and performers…


Beth Lanigan: Playwright – Yearning/Distance

Beth Lanigan is the playwright of the piece Yearning/Distance. Beth grew up in Freelton, Ontario and currently lives in Kitchener, Ontario. She describes herself as a “an overly earnest, overly anxious, overly sensitive person who also has heaps of curiosity, drive, and compassion.” Yearning/Distance follows the story of a new mother experiencing postpartum depression.

How do you relate to your piece?
“After giving birth to my first child, there was a profound disconnect between what those around me expected me to feel, and what I did feel. This piece has elements of what I experienced with my own post-partum depression. I also incorporated various aspects of the experiences of others who shared with me their own.”

How does it relate to this year’s theme, Changes?
“Having children is a profound time of change in a person’s life. Your body has changed, your hormones are wreaking havoc, and every moment of every day after the birth scarcely resembles the days that came before.”


Brooklyn Alice Lee: Playwright – The A Word

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Brooklyn Alice Lee in IWW Cabaret 2019

Brooklyn Alice Lee is the playwright of the piece The A Word in this year’s cabaret line-up. Brooklyn describes herself as an emotional open-book. She wrote her monologue based on personal experience. The A Word follows a young woman as she enters a hospital to terminate her pregnancy, but finds the decision is a hard one to make.

“I was feeling a lot of trauma and sadness following my abortion and I needed an outlet to share my thoughts and feelings, so I turned to theatre,” shares Brooklyn on creating the piece.

How does it relate to this year’s theme, Changes?
“Along with the changes that happen on your body and in your mind when you become pregnant, society is also changing when it comes to ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. What is socially acceptable to talk about and what is not. Abortion has always been a very taboo topic, but society is working towards being more understanding and supportive of pro-choice.”


Kristen+Einarson+headshotKristen Einarson: Stand-up Comic – Oversharer

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Kristen Einarson is a local stand-up comic who will be bringing her routine to this year’s cabaret. Kristen describes this past year as a “hot mess” and uses the year’s experiences and lessons in her comedy routine.

“I decided to start talking about it into a microphone and if even one human in the audience relates to me, I have done my job. My favourite thing about stand-up comedy is the vulnerability, and people don’t realize that theatre and stand-up interlope in that way” says Kristen on creating the piece for International Women’s Week.

How does your piece relate to the theme of Changes?
“It’s about big, scary life shifts and how it feels when they all happen at once. We have all been through periods of change – whether it be a career change, a relationship change, moving houses, changing hobbies… it’s just not often they all happen at once.”


Larissa Hikel: Playwright – Ping elevator_746x419

Larissa Hikel expresses herself as relentless, observant and ruthless, but promises you won’t notice so long as you’re having fun. Larissa’s piece Ping contains subject matter that every woman can relate to. The lead character is afraid to enter her own apartment building as it is the setting of a previous attack she faced, by a strange man. Larissa thanks “outrage” for the inspiration of this piece, as she draws from a real life experience.

How does your piece relate to the theme of Changes?
“Almost every woman has the person she was/is ‘before’ and ‘after’ the first experience of a sexual assault or the threat of one. Suddenly the world is a different place. Both the outside world and the one inside each of us.”


See these monologues and MORE during International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues 2020! Running March 2-8 with two public performances at The Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (at the University of Winnipeg) on March 7th. Tickets on sale HERE.

Stay tuned for more on the other monologues and performers in this year’s cabaret.


 

Monologues and Beyond

This year, we take International Women’s Week beyond the constraints of traditional monologues. The menu for this year’s Cabaret of Monologues will include half written monologues brought to life by local performers and half performances by artists from other creative mediums. These creative pieces will range from dance to song, from spoken word to mime.

If you missed out last blog post on IWW 2020, click HERE, you’ll find the first four theatrical monologues have been announced. As for the other half…. exciting new work is being created, here’s a little sneak peak to help whet your appetite on who and what you can expect to see…


Kweskina by waNda wilsoN

Wanda Wilson playing her electric guitarSome of you may remember waNda from last year’s Cabaret. WaNda recently received her Red Seal as a mechanic, and her title for this year’s piece means “change your thoughts” in Cree. She performs a beautiful combination of storytelling and musical performance, stemming from her own personal life experiences.


Bringing movement to the stage, is a dance piece by Maria Grant. Maria runs Drop In Dance Winnipeg and will Choreograph a piece to perfectly fit this year’s cabaret and the theme of “Change”.


Hailley Rhoda performing with her stuffed elephant

Last year, a piece by Hailley Rhoda utilized puppets!

The bold, beautiful and Deaf by Joanna Hawkins

As a deaf artist and member of 100 Decibles, Joanna will explore the world of mime and bring to life the art of silent storytelling.


Oversharer by Kristen Einarson

Kristen has had a really big year. She split up from her partner, she got a whole new career path, she started filling in her eyebrows, she had a mini nervous breakdown at her friend’s bachelorette party and started doing stand-up comedy. This is a monologue of things she has told people that she probably should not have. In her signature comedic style, Kristen is vulnerable and hilarious, and her piece will take you on a ride of social anxiety, insecurity, and uncertainty. She probably shouldn’t be writing such big promises in a show description. She probably shouldn’t have said she has a signature style. She also wishes she gave her character a more interesting name, like maybe “Harriet” or “Susan”.


The art of spoken word poetry will have a place in this year’s line-up. Writer, activist and member of Red Rising Sadie-Phoenix Lavoie will share her original work.

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Last year’s spoken word artist, Shereen Ramprashad


Save the Date! These pieces will be performed from March 2-8 for International Women’s Week with just two opportunities to see the full line-up on March 7th. Keep up to date as we travel across the province to various stages, organizations and venues to bring these pieces to life in the name of women everywhere.

What better way to celebrate International Women’s Week, than to host a performance yourself? To host any number of the monologues above, contact info@sarasvati.ca for details on availability and price. We would love to perform for you!


 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

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Hailley Rhoda performing “Talking About ED” IWW 2019

Change. Like it or not, it’s happening everyday, all around us. The world is ever evolving and changing, whether it be for better or worse and we evolve along with it. International Women’s Week: Cabaret of Monologues is now officially in progress and we are excited to announce that this year’s theme is… Changes! Emotions, thoughts, opinions, body, politics, technology – it all plays a part in our changing lives and what better way to express these changes, than through theatre.

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Renee Hill performing “Oracle Jane” IWW 2019

This year’s selected monologues will explore how we navigate a changing world . Four monologues have officially been accepted into this year’s cabaret, while others are in the process of being curated and workshopped. The selected monologues feature four different women in four very different situations of change. Until we have a full menu of monologues for you to devour, here are the official first four to whet your appetite…


Masks by Makrenna Sterdan

Ms. Jones works to keep positive as she teaches a school of children about air pollution. But, when she is alone with fellow teachers and staff, the dark truth about the day’s lesson is revealed.


Yearning-Distance by Beth Lanigan

A new mother struggles to describe her changing world and herself. She simultaneously experiences and explores the detachment and dissociation of her postpartum depression.


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waNda wilsoN performing “Bare Bones” IWW 2019


The A Word by Brooklyn Alice Lee

A young woman enters The Women’s Hospital, alone and afraid she struggles to complete paperwork while questioning the nurse and herself about her decision to terminate her pregnancy.


Ping by Larissa Hikel

Jessamyn returns home from a late shift at the bar she works at. She is cautious entering her apartment building as she recounts the terrifying events from the night before. Events that women today know are far too common.


International Women’s Week: Cabaret of Monologues will take place from March 2-8, 2020. We will once again tour the monologues to various locations around Manitoba and

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Shereen Ramprashad performing “I Am Not a Victim” IWW 2019

offer two public performances at the end of the tour. Last year we were excited to travel as far as Flin Flon and to perform in tiny classrooms as well as huge museums. If you’re interested in hosting any of this year’s monologues, give us a call at (204) 586-2236 or email us at info@sarasvati.ca!

Stay tuned for updates and more information on International Women’s Week: Cabaret of Monologues 2020, coming soon!

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Performers from IWW 2019

Inspiring Collaboration

One of the most exciting aspects of producing International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues: I Am Unstoppable is seeing incredible artists work together – often for the very first time! This week we feature one of these brand new collaborations with the team behind Captain of My Ship along the pair of familiar collaborators behind, I’ve Never Been Very Good at Drawing Hearts, But I Keep Trying.

Captain of My Ship playwright, Kathy France, saw the piece arise while working on a full-length play that explores female archetypes and how they resonate in contemporary women’s lives.

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Kathy France

“Spoken word? Never wrote a piece before I wrote this one. Now it’s a thing I do”, says France. “I was a director first, then grew the courage to act, then took on producing in foreign countries so I could get myself on stage, then grew the courage to write.”

Originally from Winnipeg, France lived abroad in Syria, Thailand, Nepal, Yugoslavia, Croatia and Trinidad before settling down in the tiny, rural town of Wolfville, NS.

France’s piece is a coming-of-age story. “It’s about the journey all girls travel, whether they know it or not”, says France. “All young women grow up to be women, and somewhere along the way they grow to understand what “woman” means, in society, in themselves. Certainly, at the time of my own sexual awakening, I didn’t know that “woman” was a social construct that would probably never serve my best interests.”

Sarasvàti Productions couples France’s piece with a talented troupe of local performers.

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Ady Kay

“I feel connected to the messages I get from this piece about the confines and restrictions of gender norms. I feel connected to the way the words rhyme and work together to create imagery,” says performer Ady Kay. Together with collaborators Emily Solstice and Victoria Hill, Kay is devising a physical rendition of Captain of My Ship.

Kay is a performer, dancer, clown and poet, just to name a few.  “I am excited about this piece”, says Kay. “Not only does it speak to a matter that I care about very much, it also is beautifully described through poetry. And with poetry, so much is possible as a physical performer.”

A.b. Norris is the Winnipeg-based film maker and playwright behind I’ve Never Been Very Good at Drawing Hearts, But I Keep Trying.

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A.b. Norris

“The original concept came to me after I’d taken some pictures and decided to turn them into a short silent film”, says Norris, “but I wanted to articulate some of what I’m trying to express in a different way.”

Enter Monika Thurn und Taxis.

“The theme of the eclipse and the symbology is a very close theme to my personal life”, says Thurn und Taxis, who is a performer and photographer.  The two have worked together on theatre projects before.

“The challenges I articulate in this piece are ones with which I contend”, says Norris. “Something unique is required to work against internal conflicts versus external forces. It’s a different kind of persistence that challenges the barriers we put up ourselves, or the cycles we perpetuate and in which we can become caught.”

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Monika Thurn und Taxis

“I believe deeply in the reflection of our nature in the sky. An eclipse is an important moment that asks us to be present with the darkness around us and shine our inner light”, says Thurn und Taxis. “This symbology, paired with the want and need to love and be loved and not giving up on finding our true love in either a person, a career or any other form that might be important to us—it’s very powerful.”

We look forward to presenting these inspiring collaborations on March 10th at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Details and tickets here.

 

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!

What it means to be Unstoppable

Living through riots, learning to teach yoga as a senior, accepting your true self and conquering all odds. This year we celebrate International Women’s Week with a Cabaret of Monologues and performance art that shines a spotlight on the the many ways in which women are unstoppable. Join us in the theatre on March 10th to see the full line-up.  We are thrilled to announce that we will be providing ASL interpreters at the performance.

If you are part of a community group looking for a way to celebrate, book a selection of pieces to host!

We are thrilled to announce this year’s incredible line-up!

Saviour Self by Andrea Scott
Performed by Reena Jolly
Where were you in 1992 when Yonge Street exploded in riots? Josephine Benedict was a swaggering teenager looking to take care of herself, one tampon at a time.

Flight 182 created and performed by Anjali Sandhu
Where are you from? The Jungle Book, 20th century supermodels, ignorant politicians…nothing will stop Rani from being accepted as Canadian.

I Got 99 Problems, My Penis is Just One created and performed by Cynthia Fortlage
One transgender woman’s exploration of her journey to womanhood. This piece delves deep into Learning to be a Feminist, Loss of Privilege, and the Subtleties of Sisterhood.

I Am Unstoppable created and performed by Joanna Hawkins
Can you remember a time when nothing stood in your way? The innocence of childhood can make you feel unstoppable, but how do we persevere after the barriers and discrimination in the dominant world are fully perceived? Deaf artist, Joanna Hawkins explores this through mime.

Captain of My Ship by Kathy France
Performed by Ady Kay in collaboration with Victoria Hill and Emily Solstice
A woman recounts her coming of age story, reliving the confusion and fear that define a young woman’s entry into sexual awareness.

I’ve Never Been Very Good at Drawing Hearts, But I Keep Trying by A.b. Norris
Performed by Monica Thurn und Taxis
Using images captured during a lunar eclipse, this audio-visual media and collaborative performance piece explores (dis)connection between the persistent need to love/be loved and actually being good at either.

I Am a Warrior by Sue Higgs
Cathy signs up for a course. Nothing unusual about that, except for the fact that Cathy is in her late 60’s in a class full of twenty-something’s.

Sweet An Nice by Althea Cunningham
Performed by Lorraine James
Pregnant with a child, Jamaican immigrant Celestine seeks a better life in a new country. After getting a family to sponsor her, she moves thousands of miles across several oceans to discover it’s far from what she imagined it to be.

ObScene created and performed by Kristy Janvier
By holding onto our beliefs or judgements, how can we create connection? A performance art piece that explores healthy sensuality as a means of release.

Perfect Pie by Judith Thompson
Performed by Anna Binder
When prompted by a long-estranged friend, Patsy explains what it’s like to have an epileptic seizure. From master playwright Judith Thompson’s ground-breaking play about how you cannot escape where you come from.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we get to know the artists involved!

Launching IWW18

How do you pull together 10 performers, doing 10 pieces and touring to upwards of 15 locations? With a lot of help. For five years now Rachel Smith has been an integral part of the International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues. Rachel is part of choosing the theme, making monologue selections and directing pieces to be performed at the theatre and throughout the community. As we begin to choose our selections for IWW2018, we caught up with Rachel to talk about what she’s looking forward to about the project this year.

What does the IWW Cabaret of Monologues mean to you?

I have been fortunate enough to grow as a director throughout my time working on the cabaret. When I first joined the artistic team I had just graduated with my MA so I was eager to get more practical experience under my belt. Working on this event gave me the opportunity to have Hope McIntyre as a mentor and I feel this has strongly contributed to my growth as an artist.

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Rachel Smith

Working on monologues is challenging in many ways. The playwrights have to write an active and engaging performance for only one person. The actors have no other actors on stage to feed off of and sometimes have to react to an imaginary character. As a director we have to help the actors figure out how to bring the monologues to life; ensuring the performance is active and engaging.

Each monologue that I have worked on has presented its own unique challenges artistically and each actor is different to work with. Every time I have worked on the monologues I take something new away from them. The practical experiences I gain are matched by the expansive understanding that the different stories present.

What does this year’s theme ‘Unstoppable’ mean to you?

Each year the theme we choose offers new stories and new perspectives. The perspectives that are represented in the monologues are not often seen on stage elsewhere. The topics challenge the audiences and offer new ways of thinking about the themes we present. Working as a director on these stories ensures that my own biases are constantly being challenged. I hope that it does the same for audiences.

I think that the theme “unstoppable” is important because it can be inspirational. Everyone faces challenges at some point in their lives. For some people just getting out of bed in the morning can be a challenge. Sometimes the circumstances we find ourselves in can seem hopeless. Sometimes we need other people’s stories about how they are able to push through and keep going, in order to feel as though we can do the same.

What have some of the highlights been for you?

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Jane Burpee in Dave Carley’s “Urban Nun”

My favourite monologue that I have worked on has been the, somewhat crude, smoking Nun played by Jane Burpee. It was such a great monologue and I had so much fun working on it.

That being said, every year the monologues and rehearsals are so great that it is hard to narrow down the highlights. For me, working on the Cabaret, in general, is a highlight.

Why celebrate IWW with the Cabaret of Monologues?

The Cabaret of Monologues is a unique event where we are able to confront important societal issues while getting the chance to showcase talent from Canadian Women. We often get a range of work from all over Canada from women writers of various backgrounds. With the added bonus of being able to work with local, often up and coming, artists. It is a chance to have powerful stories portrayed by powerful women on stage.

One of my favourite aspects of the Cabaret of Monologues is that the monologues tour to different community organizations. This provides opportunities to bring the performances to people who may not be able to attend the full public event. Many organizations use the monologues as an opportunity to talk about circumstances that members of their communities may be confronting. It also provides opportunities for the performers to meet members of the community. This gives the event a more personalized atmosphere.

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Johanna Burdon performing at St. John’s Library

Stay tuned for the announcement of this year’s pieces in an upcoming blog! You can catch the 2018 International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues March 10 at 4pm and 8pm at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Tickets are on sale now.  Those interested in booking monologues to tour to their community can contact Angie at associate@sarasvati.ca .