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.


 

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.


 

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

Work-Work-Work-Work-Workshops!

Workshops are essential to the artist. Experience and practice are EVERYTHING when it comes to the arts and what better way to gain experience and practice than by learning from a pro? Our 2019/20 workshop season begins tomorrow! We are working hard to find the facilitators for each workshop so you can get the most out of every single one. This year’s topics will range from what you need to know on the stage, to behind the stage and everything in-between.

Audrey-Dwyer-240x300Tomorrow, Audrey Dwyer will host a Coffee with a Pro session on playwriting with invited participants. Audrey Dwyer is a multi-disciplinary artist with over twenty years of experience working as an Actor, Director, Playwright, Teacher, Facilitator and Mentor. She is also a couple months in to her role as the Assistant Artistic Director of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. Dwyer will share her insights and answer questions in a special intimate setting with emerging artists.

 

Another Coffee with a Pro session will be held a few weeks following on devised theatre andraea-sartison1with Andraea Sartison of One Trunk Theatre. Andraea Sartison is a theatre artist and event producer in Winnipeg. She is the founding Artistic Producer of One Trunk Theatre and is known for her creative performance concepts, interdisciplinary collaboration, devised theatre and the integration of technology into live performance. Invited participants will again have a chance to sit down and chat with Andraea on her work in devised theatre.

A huge thank you to Forth Café for hosting and supporting these unique meetings!


ali-robsonAs for on the stage, Ali Robson will be facilitating a movement workshop on January 19, 2020. Ali Robson is a dance artist who works in both dance and theatre and is curious about collaborating across disciplines and creating work with and for people of all ages. Ali is a collective member of Weather Parade Dance Theatre, is the Associate Artistic Director of Company Link and is a board member for Young Lungs Dance Exchange. Ali teaches movement at the University of Winnipeg and other classes for children and adults throughout Winnipeg. Participants will have the chance to learn about movement in theatre from Ali, while having the opportunity to practice her teachings in the space. If you’re interested in attending the workshop, please send an email expressing interest in the workshop with your full name and contact information to liz@sarasvati.ca.

 

Some other workshops we are exploring for the coming months are…

  • Drag performance
  • Production 101
  • Accessibility in the arts
  • Cultural diversity in theatre
  • A revised One Night Stand reading series

Stay tuned for more information on future workshops. Visit our website HERE for more details on the season!


 

Launch in T-Minus 17 Days

The date is September 19th, 2019. Allergies are at a record high. In what is claimed to be an anti-allergy program, the government begins restricting access to EpiPens. In doing so, it exposes an entirely new species to the world’s stage.

This synopsis covers the production of To Kill a Lizard, a one-of-a-kind piece of theatre created by some of Winnipeg’s up-and-coming actors, directors and writers. This hour long devised production was created from scratch by our amazing Launchpad team; the new generation of Winnipeg theatre! The production is the result of intensive workshops, mentorships with professional artists, and collaboration amongst a selected group representing the future of FemFest.


Here is a little bit about The Launchpad. First up the Coordinators/Facilitators and Stage Managers of the team …

Victoria Emilie Hill (Coordinator/Facilitator)

Victoria Emilie Hill is a creator, mover, and actor based in Winnipeg. She is passionate about work that focuses on movement and the body as a place we hold and tell stories. She is curious about the myriad ways we express and communicate with ourselves, our environments, and other creatures. Victoria is also a founding member of The Patriarchy, a two-woman acapella band that sings songs and tells stories that challenge the status quo through a comedic and playful lens. Victoria is an avid student of life, and loves adventures in new things which have included roller derby, making jewelry, sky diving, knitting, white water rafting, and trying to keep her plants alive. She enjoys collaborating with new artists, and is so very honoured to be a part of the Launchpad Project with this amazing team of humans.

Lindsay Johnson (Coordinator/Facilitator)

Lindsay Johnson is a Winnipeg-based actor, director, writer, and animal-lover. With a love of both devised and classical theatre, Lindsay has enjoyed working as a Director/Assistant Director on several projects including Purge (Geritheatrics), Little Dead Lady (Naked Theatre Productions), Home 2.0. (Sarasvati Productions) Richard III (Shakespeare in the Ruins), and Vinegar Tom (University of Winnipeg). Some of Lindsay’s acting credits include Palm House (+friendsprojects), Channel Zero: Dream Door and No End House (Universal Cable Productions), A Christmas Carol (Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre), Passion (Red Hen Collective), Shattered (Sarasvati Productions), The Time In-Between, The Writing on the Stall (Fill The (W)hole Theatre), Quickies with Chekhov (This Reality Theatre Co.).

Ridge Romanishen (Stage Manager)

Ridge is thrilled to be working with Sarasvàti Productions on Launchpad for FemFest 2019. As a previous audience member of past FemFest shows, Ridge is excited to be a part of the ground-breaking work the festival puts on. His previous credits include Time and the Conways (U of W, Assistant Stage Manager), A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Arcadia (U of W, Stage Manager). Most recently he worked on Kiss of the Spider Woman (Dry Cold Productions, Apprentice Stage Manager) and Growing Op (Winnipeg Fringe 2019, Stage Manager). A big thanks to Sarasvàti Productions for this opportunity!

Bennette Villones (Assistant Stage Manager) 

Bennette Villones is currently studying theatre and film at The University of Winnipeg. She has worked with Sarasvati Productions in the past before on a high school touring show, Home 2.0 as the understudy. Now she has an opportunity to be an assistant stage manager for The Launchpad project. Recently, she was also part of Twelfth Night, a Shakespearean play with Indifferently Reformed for Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival 2019. She found it a fun and challenging experience and she hopes to use theatre as a way to inspire, tell stories and spread awareness


Now, The Launchpad Team…

Karam Daoud (Performer/Creator)

Karam Daoud is a Moroccan-Canadian actress who moved from Morocco to Canada over Karam Daoud - Headshot6 years ago. She has played numerous roles, from army generals to teenage stalkers. More recently, she was a part of her first feature film in 2019 coming out soon to Canadian festivals. Fluent in English, French and Arabic, she loves to sing and she spends her free time painting, reading, writing or playing the violin or the piano. Karam has always been a fervent theatre lover, and has been a part of multiple productions in Winnipeg. She also happens to be a big fan of World of Warcraft when she is not filling her spare time with her mechanical engineering job.

Anika Dowsett (Performer/Creator)

Anika Dowsett is a queer theatre artist and drag performer located in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  In face she goes by Petty Davis and performs a neurotic and hyper-idealized house wife femininity.  They’ve studied playwriting, theatre, and film at the University of Winnipeg but their heart will always be at Manitoba Theatre for Young People where they took their first classes.  From Club 200 to the Asper Theatre Centre to the Local library where she always has at least two holds, Anika Dowsett is committed to making the world a queerer and artier place.

Sarah Flynn (Performer/Creator)

SARAH FLYNN - HeadshotSarah Flynn recently finished her BaH in performance with a specialization in Devised Theatre and a minor in Classics at the University of Winnipeg. She toured the Interlake with TPM’s Interlake Chautauqua, studies Clown on Manitoulin Island and with the Village Conservatory for Music Theatre. Sarah co-founded Naked Theatre Productions in 2014 and has produced and performed in 7 shows since then. Sarah enjoys breathing fresh forest air, lighting things on fire and playing with her food.
Recent credits: Pippin (ViC/WST), Little Dead Lady (NTP), Mary’s Wedding (TPM), Luna’s Suitcase (WPG Fringe)

Sara Groleau (Performer/Creator)

Sara Groleau is a 28-year old Winnipeg actor and proud to be a part of Sarasvàti Productions’ Launchpad Project! Her first theatrical role was in a play produced by The Manitoba Association of Playwrights in 2018. Since 2018, she has been in several short films. In May 2019, she appeared as Daisy in Student Body produced by Beau Theatre Co.; she also appeared as June in Farrago, produced by Dark Horse Theatre, during the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Festival and Gimli Summer Theatre Festival. Sara is looking forward to FemFest 2019!

A.J. Hotomani (Performer/Creator)

I always had an interest in the arts but, it was during my high school years, when I fell in love with film. I took every course related to it, and that included the theatre technician courses. After high school, I applied to the University of Winnipeg with an interest in pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Filmmaking, and this is how I was introduced to Theatre Performance. I took an intro course in my first year and was gifted the opportunity to work with Sarasvàti Productions. Now here I am, entering my second year of University exploring a newly found interest, in acting.

Jonathan Mourant (Performer/Creator)

Jonathan Mourant is a non-binary, multidisciplinary artist and also a robot learning how to be human. They first began improvising at 14, travelling across Canada to perform in festivals and train with professionals from Edmonton, Seattle, Vancouver and more. As an independent performer and producer, Jonathan has worked with local companies Common Crow Improv, Family Dinner, and Unexpected Results, which they formed in 2015. They are also an emerging playwright, and this year produced their play Here Together at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Jonathan is thrilled to be a part of this incredible team of emerging artists!

Andi Lea (Leaf) Pankratz (Performer/Creator) Headshot

Andi Lea (Leaf) Pankratz is an emerging non binary performer and creator currently training in aerial arts with the eventual goal of running away with the circus. They are entering into their second year of theatre at the University of Winnipeg. They took this past year to complete their Deaf Studies Certificate with the goal of participating in and contributing to theatre accessible to the Deaf community. They started performing at the age of eight, being lucky enough to have parents who enabled them, and never stopped.

Makrenna Rose Sterdan (Performer/Creator)

Makrenna Rose Sterdan is a director and playwright born and raised in Winnipeg, MB. After graduating from the University of Winnipeg’s Theatre and Film department in 2014, she moved to South Korea to teach kindergarten and work on the expat theatre scene. She has directed plays and films in Canada and South Korea, and runs the theatre/film production company Red Lips Productions. She has participated previously with Sarasvàti Productions as a playwright, writing Doing It for the Fame and Who’s Driving? for the 2016 and 2019 International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues.

Emma Welham HeadshotEmma Welham (Performer/Creator)

Emma is an emerging artist who is about to enter her final year in the University of Winnipeg’s Honours Acting Program. Since beginning her journey in theatre she has been lucky to be a part of many amazing shows, most notably House at Pooh Corner with MTYP and School of Rock the Musical with Winnipeg Studio Theatre. Emma is also a member of La Troupe Jeunesse; a French Canadian Gigue group that performs locally and international at various festival and events. She is very excited to be a part of this project and to be working with so many wonderful people!


The Launchpad Project will be presenting their work as part of FemFest 2019: All the World’s a Stage, with 3 shows. Sunday, September 15th at 4:00PM, Tuesday, September 17th at 8:30PM and Wednesday, September 18th at 6:30PM. Support local emerging artists by purchasing your tickets for the show, HERE!

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.