We Want YOU!

There are so many exciting things to look forward to in the near future. From workshops, to festivals, we can’t wait to gather once again as a community and share our art. We would love for you to join us! We are currently accepting submissions for our One Night Stand playwright development series and applications for our Launchpad Project! 

one-night-stand-poster-april-11-e1524149136777Every year, we host our One Night Stand reading series as a way for emerging and established playwrights to share their work and gain some feedback. We are seeking 10-minute scenes from Manitoban playwrights of all ages, genders, and backgrounds! Our first virtual, One Night Stand will take place in June, 2020. All submissions must be received by 11:59pm on May 8th, 2020. More details on how and what to submit HERE. 


We are so excited to welcome former Launchpad participant Jonathan Mourant in helping to coordinate future ONS editions! 

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Jonathan Mourant in the 2019 Launchpad Project

Jonathan Mourant is a trans-disciplinary performer, producer, and also a robot learning how to be human. They have been improvising for just under a decade and have performed and learned at festivals and workshops across Canada, including the Winnipeg Improv Festival and Toronto SketchFest. This year, Jonathan wrote and directed Here Together for the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Festival and created Jon After Hours, an experimental late night talk show featuring local personalities. Recently, they have begun performing drag as Nora Vision, and are thrilled at the opportunities to combine improv, theatre, and drag into their own unique performance.


You may recall our Launchpad Project from FemFest 2019. A group of emerging female and non-binary identifying artists gathered weekly for a series of workshops, before creating and performing their final work To Kill a Lizard during FemFest 2019. After a successful pilot project that supported ten young artists, we are excited to change it up this year with a new focus. This intensive residency will take place in August/September 2020. Participants will be working on performance pieces that explore climate change. They will perform them in site-specific locations in downtown Winnipeg during our fall festival of FemFest 2020. The best part is participants are paid – as all artists should be!. For more details on who, what and how to apply, click HERE. 

We hope you will consider submitting for one (or both!) of these exciting initiatives. It is important to remember that there is still a lot of exciting things to look forward to and so much art and theatre still to create! 


 

Postponed, Cancelled, Thriving

It is with a heavy heart that we recently announced the postponement of our May 2020 performance of Songide’ewin, the culmination of our Reconciliation Through Theatre Project at the Forks. We have been holding on with great hope and optimism. We have amazing stories compiled from over 70 Indigenous youth. We have an incredible artistic team and community partners all lined up. We would like to say we are making this choice, however it ultimately was out of our hands as permits and regulations were no longer allowing gatherings in to May and June. We do believe it is the safest decision and what is best for all involved.

Songide'ewin

On April 1st we had a wonderful reading of the draft script under the guidance of our director Tracey Nepinak and with actors Sara Demers, Katie German, Braiden Houle, Jessica McGlynn, Akalu Meekis and Josh Ranville. Incredible designs are underway thanks to Production Designer Louis Ogemah and we have such beautiful art ready to share from so many talented youth.

91609969_10158340738552533_7649438720994574336_nWe are 100% committed to seeing the show through, but at this time cannot provide new dates as we are working with our venue to sort out what is realistic and feasible. We will continue to share all the inspiring work happening in the interim and cannot wait to celebrate when the time is ready! We are grateful for how the community is rallying at this time, thankful for all those working so hard to provide essential services, and for all our supporters, funders, partners for their belief in our work.


These are truly uncertain times we’re in! The arts are taking a hit as performances, workshops, festivals and more are being cancelled or postponed on the daily. In times like these, we understand it’s a challenge to remain positive. But, not all hope is lost. In fact, it is more alive than ever! There are still plenty of resources on creative ways to keep your mind and the arts active. Here are just some examples:

Watch theatre at home!

Free virtual acting classes!

Art from a distance!


Our friends at I Like Hue created a documentary following the process of our reconciliation through theatre project. The documentary outlines the Seven Visions art workshops at our partner youth organizations, eventually resulting in our final production Songide’ewin. You can watch the video HERE on our Facebook with closed captioning or HERE on our Youtube account! [Poster] Sarasvati - 7 Circles

Songide’ewin may be postponed, but the conversation on reconciliation is not. We want to continue to support our artists and collaborators anyway that we can, which is why we will be introducing “Songide’ewin Sunday”! Every Sunday, starting next week, we will be featuring a Songide’ewin artist on our social media platforms. You can keep up with Songide’ewin Sunday on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Stay tuned for updates on Songide’ewin once more information is available to us. We hope you are all remaining in good health and high spirits!


 

 

World Theatre Day at Home

“Together, let’s transform the stage into a world of echoes, a world where laughter, pain, brutality, gentleness and complexity can all spring forth.” – Geneviève Pelletier, World Theatre Day Canadian Message

This year, we celebrate World Theatre Day from the comfort of our own homes. In these uncertain times it’s important to keep the arts alive, and to continue to live and fully experience every single day. We may no longer be able to gather in groups, but we can keep the spirit of Canadian theatre alive online!

26167280_1114217765381168_994219125870190171_nWorld Theatre Day was brought to life in 1961 by International Theatre Institute and occurs every year on March 27th by theatre communities around the world. This day is meant to celebrate the power of theatre as a bridge for international understanding and peace. Every year, this day brings together theatre lovers from around the globe to celebrate and appreciate the art.

pelletier-genevieve-04-1Manitoba’s very own Geneviève Pelletier, is the author of this year’s Canadian message. Geneviève is an Actor, Director and Artistic and Executive Director of Winnipeg’s Cercle Molière Theatre. You can check out the full message in French or English on Playwright’s Guild of Canada’s website [https://playwrightsguild.ca/world-theatre-day/] For more inspiration, this year’s international message is by Pakistan’s leading Playwright Shahid Nadeem [https://www.world-theatre-day.org/messageauthor.html]. “In South Asia, the artists touch with reverence the floor of the stage before stepping onto it, an ancient tradition when the spiritual and the cultural were intertwined. It is time to regain that symbiotic relationship between the artist and the audience, the past and the future.”

The Playwrights Guild of Canada is offering a “Play Reading Relay” to celebrate the day, x6lSUUM8_400x400“The show must go on…line.” 29 different playwrights will livestream 10-minute readings from their plays over the course of 7 hours! Running from 10am-5pm Central time. You can find the line-up of plays by clicking HERE and find the Zoom link by clicking HERE! This is an amazing way to bring folks together to celebrate theatre and a creative way to spend a good chunk of the day at home!

There are many other ways you can celebrate World Theatre Day this year. Read a play, write down future ideas, join in a livestream, watch a production online or simply discuss the world of theatre today with a friend. These are all amazing ways you can celebrate the day from home. You can read more about World Theatre Day and how you can celebrate on the World Theatre Day website, HERE.

pngguru.comIt’s important to keep our spirits lifted and theatre in motion. We hope you are all staying safe and healthy and wish everyone a Happy World Theatre Day! Don’t forget if you’re looking for more discussion on accessibility in theatre, we are hosting an online webinar/discussion through Zoom on accessibility on April 4th! Join in the conversation or simply watch and listen. Email info@sarasvati.ca to register and for full details.


 

Songide’ewin, Sôhkitêhêwin, Neljedghile, Shoohkitayhew, Kapiasungitoaluk, Waditaka, Courage

Songide'ewin(3)

Songide’ewin, Sôhkitêhêwin, Neljedghile, Shoohkitayhew, Kapiasungitoaluk, Waditaka, Courage. Our Reconciliation Through Theatre performance now has a title! Thanks to the Manitoba Aboriginal Language Strategy, our title consists of the word “courage” translated to Ojibwe, Cree, Dene, Michif, Inuktitut and Dakota. In short, we will refer to the performance as Songide’ewin respectfully as it is the original title that was suggested by one of the youth during our workshops in 2019.

As well as our title, our team for the production in May 2020 has been officially finalized! We would like to introduce you to all of the amazing folks who will helping to bring Songide’ewin to life…

Jo MacDonald – Writer

Tracey Nepinak – Director

Darla Contois – Writing Collaborator

Lana Sinclair – Costume Designer

Louis Ogemah – Production Designer

Ian Fontaine – Sound Designer

Bear Harper – Mural Artist

Jamie Black – Mural Artist Mentor

Red Rover – Production Management Team


On Saturday, January 11th the full team was able to meet in person and discuss the next steps in the production process. It was a pleasure getting to sit down and discuss project details will all of the folks who will be contributing to what is considered our biggest and most collaborative theatrical project to date!

Songide'ewin(2)On Saturday, January 18th we will sit down with the first draft of the script and the production team as well as our youth advisory committee to read through the first draft and get a sense of the May performance. Our youth advisory committee is comprised of youth who participated in our workshops throughout 2019, the same youth whose voices are featured in the script development of Songide’ewin. All are invited to attend the first reading at Turtle Island Neighbourhood Centre (510 King St.). The doors open at 1pm! We invite you to join us, sit and listen to the first draft and participate in discussion following the reading.

This performance and project hopes to broaden the understanding of reconciliation among Canadians. We are thrilled and honoured to host a completely Indigenous cast and crew for this production to accurately tell their stories and the stories of the experiences of Indigenous folks across Manitoba. Be sure to mark your calendars for May 21-24, 2020 at The Forks in our outdoor venue. More details available HERE on our website.


 

Everybody’s Got a Plan, Until They Get Punched in the Face

By Brooklyn Alice Lee

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The night before the Bake-Off, I could hardly sleep. “What are the three ingredients going to be?” “What are my competitors like?” “What if I don’t come up with anything?” All of these questions and more were racing through my mind. When I sent in my application for the “Bake-Off,” I hadn’t considered the reality of the competition! 5 of us in one room for 8 hours, writing. AH!

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All of my worries melted away when I arrived at The Asper Centre for Theatre and Film and entered the writing room (well, most of my worries. There was still the ‘will I come up with anything?!’ panic). All of the playwrights were in good spirits, everyone brought snacks, there was coffee, water and sunlight to keep us going. Meeting the other playwrights for the first time was a huge help to calming my nerves. Everyone was so kind and supportive of each other, the energy in the room was electric. Being surrounded by a group of such positive women; passionate about theatre set fire to my determination. Then came the ingredients.


The sound, “shhh,” a flat tire, and the quote, “Everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the face.”

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Well… alright then! As a writer, I had a few ideas in my head. The trick was which idea would these three ingredients work best with?

The timer begins.

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I take my blanket (taken right off my bed at home) and my pillow (also taken right off my bed at home) and I plop myself down in the corner. I will confess. The first half-an-hour was spent scrolling through Twitter and Facebook. What? I was 68803677_10157631014417533_6195709625510133760_olooking for inspiration! Then I came across a photo of my five-year-old brother and I remembered a story I had been toying with for quite some time that involved the two of us, but never actually got around to writing. I was immediately inspired (see, scrolling can spark inspiration)!

68706456_10157631014072533_5099784042023223296_nThe room was mostly quiet throughout the writing process. With the exception of a little chatter around lunch time and the occasional “Bless you,” everyone was hard at work. Seven hours, approximately thirty different seating positions, two bottles of water and one phone call to my mum for encouragement later and I was done. I read over the script quite a few times, which I’m so glad I did because initially my script included a “spare tire,” very different from a “flat tire”! I was sure to make that adjustment, read it over a few more times and then pressed send!

Everyone completed their scripts in a timely fashion, some finishing earlier than others. By the end of it, you could feel the thickness in the air, the stress that comes with sending DSC_0227.JPGoff your work to not only be displayed in front of an audience, but no more adjustments can be made! Now, all there is left to do is wait to watch the actors bring our pieces to life and see who the audience choice winner is.

All in all, I am feeling proud, terrified, motivated and excited to see what my competitors brought to the table! It is sure to be an exciting FemFest! The performances of each playwrights Bake-Off piece will take place on September 16th at 6:30PM and you can purchase tickets HERE! Make sure to check out all of the other amazing shows going on during FemFest 2019.

Take it from a Pro

Every year at our annual FemFest, we incorporate workshops and special readings by accomplished women in theatre. This year, at FemFest 2019: All the World’s a Stage, we are excited to welcome our special guest artist Yvette Nolan. Yvette Nolan (Algonquin) is a playwright, director, and dramaturg. She is no stranger to Winnipeg and of late has been a frequent flyer coming to share her wisdom at the University of Winnipeg and PTE’s Festival of New Works. At FemFest Yvette will give a lecture in partnership with University of Winnipeg’s Real Thing series, she will facilitate a playwriting masterclass for local playwrights that stretches over the course of five days, then alongside these writers share her own work as part of the festival wrap-up event Leaping off the Page.

“For me, theatre is all about voice. Giving voice to characters whose stories might otherwise disappear, giving voice to questions that challenge us–about being marginalized, about being invisible, about aging, about grief, about our responsibility to each other and to the world.”- Yvette Nolan in an interview with ROOM Magazine

Yvette NolanSome of Yvette’s work includes the plays BLADE, Annie Mae’s Movement, The Birds, The Unplugging, Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show (co-writer), The Libretto Shanawdithit and the short film “A Common Experience,” (w. Shane Belcourt). She has directed from coast to coast and north all the way to Dawson City, Yukon. As a dramaturg, she works across Turtle Island. From 2003-2011, she served as Artistic Director of Native Earth Performing Arts. Her book Medicine Shows about Indigenous theatre in Canada was published by Playwrights Canada Press in 2015. She is an Artistic Associate of Signal Theatre.

Interested in the Playwriting Masterclass with Yvette Nolan? As artist in residence at FemFest, Yvette Nolan (Algonquin) will facilitate a masterclass for local playwrights over 5 sessions. Writers will have a chance to focus on their craft, it will then culminate in a public reading of works in progress by participants.

Workshop dates and times are as follows:

Sunday, Sept 15 – 11am to 1pm

Monday, Sept 16 – 4pm to 6pm

Tuesday, Sept 17 – 4pm  to 6pm

Thursday, Sept 19 – 4pm to 6pm

Friday, Sept 20 – 4pm to 6pm

On Saturday, September 21st at 8:30PM you can hear the culmination of Yvette’s intensive process and then join us for the Festival’s closing reception.

For more information or to reserve your spot in the workshop visit our website, HERE. Or, to purchase a ticket for the September 21st Leaping Off the Page event, click HERE. Make sure to explore our website to learn more about FemFest2019: All the World’s a Stage and what it has to offer! September 14th-21st.

Baking With Grief

How do you grieve and move on after losing someone? It is a challenge for anyone, but even more so for Katherine, especially now that death has moved in as her roommate.

The Grief Box by Alissa Watson won last year’s Bake-Off writing competition; during FemFest 2018. This year, a reading of The Grief Box is part of our FemFest 2019 roster! We asked Watson to share a little bit about the inspiration behind her play…

“Writing The Grief Box has been a weird and wonderful process. The inspiration for the piece came from the sudden death of my mom in the fall of 2017. I have found life convoluted and bizarre in the wake of her passing and it has been my experience that many people struggle to support those who are dealing with loss, even if they are sharing the same experience. In creating this piece, it is important to me to create a community experience; a safe space where the audience can laugh, cry or get angry with or at death. I would love to have everyone leave feeling that they have a slightly better relationship with death; however bizarre it might be.

The piece has evolved extensively since The Switch, that won the Bake-Off last fall. Much to my disappointment, that scene is no longer in this draft of the play. Audiences who are familiar with the scene can consider it a prologue to the reading of The Grief Box they will see this fall. However, the same loveable cast of characters are along for the ride, including death itself.”- Alissa Watson

Alissa Watson Grief BoxIn addition to acquiring her Bachelor of Music and Education from Brandon University, Alissa has trained in theatre throughout Canada, England and is an alumna of the Professional Training Ensemble at Prairie Theatre Exchange.  She is the co-founder of The Red Nose Diaries (Maple & Sticky’s Amazing Olympic Race, The Polka Dots of Death: The Making of a Supervillain) and is a proud founding member of Winnipeg’s only all-female Bouffon Ensemble, The Talentless Lumps. Selected acting credits include Sense & Sensibility, Harvey (RMTC); Torn Through Time (MTYP); Mission: Munschpossible, Small Things, Magical Mystery Munsch (PTE); and Stripped Down Midsummer Night’s Dream (SIR). Alissa is a member of PTE’s Emerging Playwright’s Unit and is currently adapting the beloved Munsch classic, The Paper Bag Princess for young audiences this winter. In addition, Alissa is a vocalist and percussionist for the sweet and cheeky, Fu Fu Chi Chi Choir.

The reading of The Grief Box will be held Saturday, September 14th at 2:00PM at The Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Admission is Pay What You Can and you can book tickets HERE on our website.  You can also check out this year’s edition of the Bake-Off on September 16th at 6:30pm to vote for a script you would like to see developed for 2020.

Stay tuned for more on what to look forward to during FemFest 2019!

Celebrating New Works!

New name, new play…time for spring renewal! We’ll be back at Prairie Theatre Exchange’s Festival of New Works (formerly the Carol Shields Festival) for another year. This time we’ll be showcasing a reading of a former One Night Stand script turned full-length play by Wren Brian. A Fine Line was featured in our April 2018 One Night Stand scene-reading series and we’re proud to present the full script as part of the festival.

This dystopian war drama follows seven people as they struggle to cope with increasing conflict in their country. As their world is turned upside down, they must decide what they will or will not sacrifice in order to survive.

Wren Brian

Wren Brian

Wren has worked with Sarasvàti Productions for many years and recently returned as our part-time administrator! She started her diverse career in Whitehorse, Yukon (territory of the Kwanlin Dün & Ta’an Kwäch’än) where she was born and raised. Currently based in Winnipeg on Treaty 1, Wren is a playwright as well as an arts administrator and producer. In her writing she is dedicated to creating characters that can be played by actors of any gender, ancestry, ability and/or age. Recently her play Anomie won the 2017 Rintoul Award for Best New Manitoba Play at the Winnipeg Fringe, and in October 2018 her play Bystander was premiered by Gwaandak Theatre in Whitehorse.

 

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Tatiana Carnevale

Directing the reading is Tatiana Carnevale. Tatiana is based in Winnipeg (Treaty 1, the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene people and homeland of the Métis nation). Select directing credits include: The Trump Card, Tigers Be Still (District Theatre Collective); One Night Stand, Shorts from the Short List (Sarasvàti Productions); You Were There, [title of show] (Pocket Frock Productions), and Godspell (Winnipeg Studio Theatre). Tat received her MA from the University of Guelph and BA from the University of Winnipeg. She is very excited to be collaborating with Wren and this wonderful group of artists on A Fine Line.

 

Performing A Fine Line are local actors Joshua Balzer, Hera Nalam, Matthew Paris-Irvine, Robert Piche, Anaka Sandhu, Amanda Shymko, and Sophie Smith-Dostmohamed. We’re excited to see how they bring this work to life onstage!

 

 

Join us on Saturday, June 1 at 4PM for a reading of this powerful new script! We’ll be at PTE’s Mainstage, located on the third floor of Portage Place Shopping Centre. Admission to this event is free –a hat will be passed for contributions to support the festival.

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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