On the Stage

You’ve met the playwrights, now meet the performers who will be bringing their stories to life! This year’s traditional monologues are Ping, Yearning/Distance, Masks and The A Word. Four local Winnipeg actors have been brought onto this year’s cabaret to perform these monologues throughout the tour.


TaesiaScratch headshotTaesia Scratch – Ping

Mother of four, Vancouver born and Winnipeg resident, Taesia Scratch will be performing Ping by Larissa Hikel. Taesia’s first role upon moving to Winnipeg was with Sarasvàti Productions and you may have seen her in the Bake-Off during FemFest 2019!

What excites you about your piece?

“It does not apologize. It is a raw story of an intense situation that all women may have faced, it tells a story of the fear that we have trying to get to the safety of the place that should be, safe.”

How do you relate to your piece?

“I have worked nights as a young woman and had to return home, where I lived alone, many times. I spent years working very late walking through my apartment lobby, after speed walking home, with this kind of fear, that comes to most women after the sun goes down.”


Saira Rahman – Yearning/Distance Saira Rahman

Saira is a proud Muslim, female filmmaker who also performed in FemFest 2019 for the world premiere of Baby Box. This year, she takes on the role of a new mother yet again as she performs Yearning/Distance by Beth Lanigan!

What excites you about your piece?

“Preparing to perform the piece will be an exciting challenge for me because it brilliantly manages to paint a vivid picture of what post-partum illness may feel like with all of its complexity.”

How do you relate to your piece?

“Although I’ve never experienced post-partum depression, I think this piece remains universal because all of us at one time or another have felt the sting of depression. I know I have, and it feels immensely comforting to know that we are not alone, and that in speaking about our feelings and experiences with depression and anxiety helps crush the stigma.”


5U3A3824-Edit-EditRenée Hill – Masks

Graduate of The University of Winnipeg Theatre department, Renée is a gifted singer, maker and bilingual voice over artist. Last year, Renée performed Oracle Jane by Vicki Zhang in our International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues: Here I Am. This year, Renée will play a school teacher in Makrenna Sterdan’s Masks.

What excites you about your piece?

“It’s an upbeat, intelligent, curious look at educators, children and the systems at play.”

How do you relate to your piece?

“As a parent of young children I am intrigued by the education of our children and which societal systems influence how and what our children learn.”


Lizzie Knowles – The A WordLizzie Knowles

Ukulele playing, vegetarian, owner of two rabbits, Lizzie joins our team for the first time! Lizzie is a theatre grad from The University of Winnipeg with Honours Acting and participates in this year’s cabaret by performing The A Word by Brooklyn Alice Lee.

What excites you about your piece?

“I get really excited by the reality of it. The fear and anxiety is genuine, and it’s relatable to everyone I think. I really love whenever I can see a fully realized decision and the process to get there presented on stage. I think it’s comforting for an audience.”

How do you relate to your piece?

“My brain works in a very similar way to this character, so it’s been very fun to work on. I’m very grateful to tell a story that many people have gone through and few feel they can discuss.”


See these monologues and more during International Women’s Week! Touring from March 2nd-8th, 2020 with two public performances on Saturday, March 7th, 2020 at 4pm and 8pm! Tickets on sale HERE. March 7th at 8pm will be an ASL interpreted performance.

Behind the Curtain pt.2

Storytelling comes in all shapes and form. Whether it be a satirical monologue, mime or music; everyone has a story to tell and everyone has their own unique way of telling it. Last week, we introduced you to some of our playwrights and performers for International Women’s Week 2020 Cabaret of Monologues: Changes! And there’s more where that came from!

Meet a few more of our wonderful playwrights and performers…


 

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100 Decibels Deaf Mime Troupe

Joanna Hawkins: Performer – The Bold Beautiful and Deaf

 

Joanna is an active member of the Deaf community in Winnipeg. Her piece in this year’s cabaret is meant as a way to both represent and relate to Deaf women. We asked Joanna some questions on The Bold Beautiful and Deaf.

What drove you to create this piece?

Women have gone through so much and some currently experience mental illness, depression, anxiety, loneliness (having no support or encouragement – specifically for women who are Deaf and they cannot go to support groups because of no money for access to communication), or having no self esteem.

We want women especially with disabilities to be strong, bankable, business minded, fashionably beautiful, bold, blessed and balanced.

How does your piece relate to the theme Changes?

As a culturally involved Deaf woman, I have been connected with other Deaf women who struggle with their mental illnesses and want to improve their life but face obstacles due to communication barriers. I want to help voice their struggle and hope for the change to occur soon.


waNda wilsoN: Performer – Kweskenta

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waNda wilsoN performing “Bare Bones” in 2019

 

Cree musician and wanderer, waNda wilsoN returns to this year’s IWW with a new musical storytelling piece. Last year, waNda performed Bare Bones, a piece on overcoming addiction. This year, she brings a whole new story in relation to the theme of Changes.

What drove you to create this piece?

The theme of the cabaret, “changes”, inspired me to create this piece and share my stories and songs. Change is an inevitable part of life. Choice and decision-making are the key ingredients in Kweskenta.

My piece connects to the theme “changes” because it reflects many experiences I have been though at different times in my life. Through it all I have picked up many tools, and surrounded myself with people who have offered me not only love but hope. Kweskenta means “to change your thoughts” in Cree.


Makrenna SterdanMakrenna Sterdan: Playwright – Masks

Writer, creator and teacher, Makrenna Sterdan is a triple threat currently living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Sterdan is also doing work with Green Kids. Green Kids aims to teach students about environmentalism through theatre – bringing us to her IWW monologue, Masks.

What drove you to create this piece?

Back when I was a kindergarten teacher living in Seoul, South Korea, the principal of our school asked me to help deliver an educational presentation to the students about air pollution. My job was to show the students put on their masks. While my students were older and did a great job following instructions, the younger students, around two years old, started crying.

Canada has a lot of fresh air and natural resources, so it’s easy to think of climate change as a hoax. Or, worse, that the pollution contributing to climate change is else’s problem. But Canada is as complicit in climate change as other countries, and we should do what’s best for the planet.

How does your piece relate to the theme Changes?

Come on, it’s the environment. Something’s gotta change, something’s gotta give, or we might lose the planet.


Stay tuned for more on the other monologues and performers in this year’s cabaret. Or book your tickets NOW! They make a great gift for the holidays.


 

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.


 

In the Director’s Chair with Bronwyn Steinberg

A show is nothing without the guidance of a skilled Director. We have a plethora of talented Directors working with us to produce a selection of amazing FemFest productions. Bronwyn Steinberg leads Kim Kilpatrick, Karen Bailey and Tulia the guide dog through their performance of Raising Stanley/Life with Tulia. If you missed our blog on Raising Stanley/Life with Tulia, you can find that HERE.

Bronwyn is a driven creative who puts her whole heart into her work, her hard work and dedication are reflected through the productions she directs. Here is a little bit more about Bronwyn and her history in the theatre…

apa_2017-02-24_13-04-56_apa_6470Bronwyn is passionate about creating a space that brings people together to engage in theatre that provokes social examination. She is the founding Artistic Director of TACTICS, Ottawa’s curated indie theatre series. Upcoming projects include directing Bang Bang for GCTC in Ottawa and Lost Letters, a new musical premiering at Bloomington Playwrights Project. Recent credits include The Drowning Girls (GCTC), The Revolutionists (Three Sisters Theatre) and Twelfth Night (a Company of Fools).

Bronwyn’s current directorial project with Raising Stanley/Life with Tulia continues its tour at FemFest 2019: All the World’s a Stage. Bronwyn had a lot to say about her work with Kim and Karen and her excitement on directing such a progressive and unique production…

“I am a total dog person. We always had dogs growing up, usually three at a time. I was even born in the Year of the Dog. But rarely has my love of dogs been able to be part of my life in theatre. My beloved miniature dachshund Kudra, who was with me for eighteen years, used to sit on my lap during rehearsals and even accompanied me on tour, but that was a long time ago now. So, I was delighted when Eric Coates at GCTC introduced me to Kim and Karen and this beautiful collaboration.

uc19_raisingstanley_photocred_justinvanleeuwen-e1542135997754It’s been fascinating not only to learn about accessibility techniques for theatre, but also to explore ways of integrating accessibility right into the creation process. The theatre is one of the few remaining places where people share in a live communal experience. It has been wonderful touring this piece to different festivals and communities around Canada, and we can’t wait to bring it to FemFest in Winnipeg. I am so pleased to offer this experience in a way that is accessible and inclusive for all audience members. And what better way to come together than to share in the love of our beloved friends and companions, the dogs that comfort, guide and inspire us?” – Bronwyn Steinberg

You have three chances to see Bronwyn, Kim and Karen’s hard work come to life in Raising Stanley/Life with Tulia during FemFest 2019: All the World’s a Stage. FemFest is officially only one month away! For ticket and show time info, click HERE.

Do What You Love/You’ll Never Work A Day

Coming up this weekend… “Making a Living in Theatre” a round-table discussion with five professionals at the ready to answer all and any questions you may have about making a living in the theatre industry! Plus, a chance to share your own experiences. Whether you’re just starting out, or you’ve been in the industry for years, all are welcome!

Here is a sneak peek at who you can expect to see this Saturday, June 22nd at 2pm:


KATIE GERMAN Katie

Katie German is a Winnipeg based performer, director and educator. She received her training in Musical Theatre Performance at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton and studied classical voice through the University of Manitoba.

Katie is the owner and director of Junior Musical Theatre Company (JMTC), a pre-professional children’s musical theatre company which teaches the basics of singing, dancing and acting culminating in two performances yearly. Katie is also the Artistic Associate with Manitoba Theatre for Young People, a Voice Director and character voice for an upcoming cartoon due for release in January 2019, a theatre performer and a mother to a beautiful four-year-old that loves to sing and dance.


KAREN SCHELLENBERG

Karen Schellenberg is an instructor and production manager at the University of Manitoba. She oversees all technical aspects for productions with the Theatre Program while teaching its Technical Theatre students the joys of backstage work. She enjoys designing lights, sets, and costumes for some of its major productions, most recently set and lights for Love’s Labour’s Lost and costumes for Peer Gynt and Marat/Sade.

Karen trained at the U of M’s Black Hole Theatre Company before spending several years as a professional stage hand in Toronto and surrounding areas. After returning to Winnipeg to work at the university, Karen nurtured local contacts by catching theatre calls and working in summer festivals. Find her back at the Fringe this summer!


DONNA FLETCHERDonna Fletcher photo low res.

Donna Fletcher is an accomplished actor, singer, and concert performer with a wide range of national experience in theatre, musical theatre, and symphonic work.  Proud of her prairie roots, Donna received her early training in Winnipeg and earned a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Manitoba, a diploma in Music Theatre from The Banff Centre for the Arts, a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from The University of Toronto and trained in Shakespeare text & voice at the Simon Fraser Voice Intensive.

As an actor, Donna has been acclaimed in principle roles from east to west with the Charlottetown Festival, Drayton Festival, Rainbow Stage, Theatre Calgary, Stage West Calgary, the National Arts Centre, Manitoba Opera, MTC, PTE, MTYP, WJT, the Belfry Theatre and Persephone Theatre.  She has performed with the Winnipeg Symphony; the Florida Orchestra, and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and was featured on the CBC Radio’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera.

Donna will direct the first regional production of Phantom of the Opera at Opera on the Avalon in October 2019 and has the distinction of being the first Winnipeg born female to direct at Rainbow Stage. Her favourite role of all time is being mum to Amalia.


FRANCES KONCAN

Frances Koncan is an Anishinaabe-Slovenian writer, director, and independent theatre and film producer originally from Couchiching First Nation. She attended Fort Richmond Collegiate, where she studied french horn and skipped all her other classes. Later, she went to the University of Manitoba, where she said goodbye to her career as a professional musician for a lucrative degree in Psychology instead. When the economy was tragically struck by a recession, she saw a perfect opportunity to pursue what was to be the most financially responsible career path of all time, and flew off to New York City to study Playwriting at Brooklyn College! Since then, she has returned back to Winnipeg where she evenly divides her time between yachting, writing, and curating her social media presence. She has been nominated for several awards, but never wins any of them. She prints all her grant applications on pink, scented paper to give it that extra something special.

VAULT PROJECTS is an independent theatre collective with a focus on creating new theatrical work for our contemporary cultural climate, and re-envision classics through a decolonized, pop culture lens.


SIMON MIRON

Simon Miron is a writer, director, actor and arts educator based out of Winnipeg Manitoba. He has been teaching for over a decade and has participated in the development and creation of dozens of new works. He obtained his Masters from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, which was recently ranked in the Top 5 performing arts schools in the world. Recent simoncredits include: Writer: Freestyle Fantastique, Corner Of, Voices in my head. Director: Pippin (ViC/WST) The Last 48 (ArtLaunch), American Idiot, Young Frankenstein (WST), Lucky Stiff (MDA), Songs for a New World (WRP), 7Stories (TBTR). Actor: Little Shop of Horrors, South Pacific, Les Misérables, The Little Mermaid, The Producers (Rainbow), Selkrik Avenue, Bridges of Madison County (DryCold), Am I not King (zone41/Royal Canoe), Butcher, Le Père, Heyderabad (CM), House on Pooh Corner, James and The Giant Peach, Honk (MTYP) and Blithe Spirit (Echo Theatre), Sunday in the Park with George (Galleryworks). He is a founding member of the Village Conservatory for Music Theatre.


The discussion takes place this Saturday, June 22nd at 2PM! Follow the signs in the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film up to room 2T05 where we will have refreshments and friendly faces ready to answer questions, listen, talk, and share. The event is pay-what-you-choose and will run between 1.5-2 hours.

We hope to see you there!

NEW BLOOD

As we get closer to Fem Fest 2019, we have brought on two new staff members eager to help us ring in the festival year! Please join us in welcoming Sami Desiree as our new Production Assistant and Brooklyn Kilfoyle as our new Marketing and Community Outreach Assistant.  We asked the girls to tell us a little bit about themselves so we can all get to know them a little better.Sami Headshot 2019

Sami Desiree is currently a production student at the University of Winnipeg. Her passion for theatre started at a young age when she began acting. She has since developed her interests and has begun working in various aspects of theatre including production, directing, designing and producing. Sami founded Beau Theatre Co in 2017 and since has produced four full productions with the company. She could not do any of it without the support of her partner Matt and her cat Zella.

Now, she joins the Sarasvàti team as our new Production Assistant! An opportunity Sami says she is, “excited and deeply grateful” for.

“I am blown away by the care Hope and the whole Sarasvàti team puts into their work.”- Sami Desiree

She cannot wait to be part of that initiative.

Currently, Sami is working on a summer tour with Beau Theatre Co, taking the show, Seascape with Sharks and Dancer, to Regina International Fringe Festival and Gimli’s A-Spire Theatre Festival. You may also catch her in a tech booth somewhere controlling light and sound.

Brooklyn HeadshotBrooklyn Kilfoyle has been an active member of the theatre community from a young age. Her passion has always been performing; whether it is on a big stage under lights or in her living room dimly lit by the television. Brooklyn has recently completed her degree in Theatre with The University of Winnipeg. When she’s not performing, Brooklyn enjoys spending time with her friends and family, including (and quite often limited to) her dog and best friend Bowie. Currently, Brooklyn is rehearsing for the 2019 season of the Winnipeg Fringe, where she will be performing with her own company, 803 Productions. This is the first time Brooklyn has both written and will be performing her own work. The play is titled Growing Op and will be performed during The Winnipeg Fringe Festival at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film.

Though her medium bends towards acting, she has joined the behind the scenes action of the theatre world with us at Sarasvàti Productions as our newest Marketing and Community Outreach Assistant!

“I am excited to be part of a theatre company that promotes positivity and change!”- Brooklyn Kilfoyle

Best of luck, Sami and Brooklyn! We’re happy to have you both on board.

Keep an eye out for more information on Fem Fest 2019, coming soon!

Meet the Team Behind “New Beginnings”!

New Beginnings is one of the biggest shows we’ve ever done: collaborating with artists across disciplines, including music, dance, and film-making! Get to know the amazing team bringing everything together!

What excites you about being on the New Beginnings artistic team? 

Gerry Atwell, Music Director: The subject matter is compelling and pertinent and the script is well researched, beautifully written and thought provoking. I love composing music and working with a talented creative team.

Brenda Gorlick, Dance Consultant: It is an absolute honour to work with such a diverse group of talented team members; I am extremely moved by the stories we are sharing and having a new appreciation for everyone’s journey.

Lindsay Johnson, Associate Producer: I have always admired Sarasvàti’s focus on producing theatre that sparks conversation about a wide range of important social issues. I am beyond thrilled to be a part of the artistic team who are helping stage the stories behind New Beginnings. It has been especially exciting for me to be involved in the community collaboration that shaped this production.

Cherissa Richards, Director: I love bringing these stories to life on-stage! I’m really excited to hear the personal stories of newcomers.

Saira Rahman, Snow Angel Films: It’s exciting to work with the other artists on the team – to learn from each by observing their creative process. I always like collaboration because of how enriched a piece can become with multiple perspectives.

 

What elements of the project do you personally connect with? 

Gerry: Even though I was born and raised in Winnipeg, people regularly assume I am from elsewhere and want to me to justify my presence and difference by categorizing it. “So where are you from?” is a question I have been asked all my life. My father chose Canada and all through his life he helped those who were adjusting to a new life here. I grew up sharing dinner with people from Russia, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Uganda, and South Africa that my Dad met in passing and befriended.

Brenda: My brother and sister-in-law work for UNHCR so I’ve heard many of their experiences over the years of refugees’ stories.

Lindsay: I have loved getting to know members of my community that are outside of my day-to-day circle. It has been a fabulous experience watching my experience of Winnipeg grow in this way.

Saira: I felt a connection with the stories that included a parent and child. They made me remember my own experience growing up as my family tried to adapt to our new home. I’m honoured to be a part of this project because it honours my personal experience as a newcomer, although that was some time ago! My family had many new beginnings: East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), United Kingdom, Atlantic Canada, rural Manitoba, and finally Winnipeg!

 

 

Come see the culmination of this amazing team’s hard work starting May 22nd! We’re also featuring an opening dance piece choreographed by Emily Solstice and original art work by Indra Skuja-Grislis. Tickets are on sale now, available here!