Burnt: Norah Paton travels to Burning Man, Burning Man travels to FemFest

At FemFest this year, Norah Paton’s Burnt will take you on a theatrical trip to Burning Man, a temporary community in the desert in Nevada. You will meet all kinds of people played by Paton herself. The festival gets its name from the ritual of burning of a huge wooden effigy at the end of the festival. It is founded on ten principles: radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation, and immediacy.

Paton created the piece by visiting Burning Man in 2014, 2015, and 2016 and recording interviews with the people she met there. But instead of any old documentary, Paton wrote a script that is a collage of interviews and brought it to life with her captivating acting skills. She plays a surprisingly varied cast of characters, each with their own distinctly recognizable personality. Ian Huffam wrote in his review that “Paton’s physicality and vocal texture when embodying the subjects of her interviews deftly captures the essence of these people.”

The aesthetic of the show is wonderful, too. The sound design is by AL Connors and the play features electronic music, just as Burning Man does. Dominique Coughlin’s costume and set designs remind us of Le Petit Prince, as Ian Huffam points out, which shares its desert setting with Burnt. Lighting designer Sarah Mansikka creates fascinating visual effects. Dramaturges Emily Pearlman and Brad Long complete the artistic team.

Paton premièred Burnt at the Undercurrents Festival in Ottawa in 2017 and received glowing reviews. Jared Davidson described the première as “fascinating, clever, and immersive” and added “with a script and performance this strong, it will be interesting to see how it develops.” Our Artistic Director saw this production in Ottawa and was excited to share it with FemFest audiences.  And now that Paton has developed it further, Winnipeg theatregoers will see its best version yet.

Paton’s brilliance doesn’t stop at the sheer originality of this concept. The play also criticizes the hypocrisies of Burning Man: how a money-less city that operates on giving has become a capitalist venture, how a place where people are not supposed to leave any traces has developed a litter problem, and how racism and rape culture have crept into a community founded on inclusivity.

The Ottawa Citizen quoted Paton saying “Some of [the ten principles of Burning Man] are totally contradictory, and I definitely do look at those paradoxes…For me, it’s really interesting to see how this temporary city becomes a microcosm of all the issues or tensions or problems that we all see in our lives.”

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Come and enjoy Burnt at FemFest at the University of Winnipeg Asper Centre for Theatre and Film, 400 Colony Street, on Tuesday, September 18th or Wednesday, September 19th at 9:00 pm or on Thursday, September 20th at 7:00 pm and prepare to be amazed!

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FemFest 2018: Staging Resistance!

FemFest is turning 16 this year and we’re already hard at work getting this incredible festival ready! After community consultation and a huge response to our recent survey, we are responding by focusing on making FemFest more diverse, inclusive and visible with life-changing plays for everyone. We have an amazing line-up in store for this year, including readings, workshops, and touring shows from Toronto to Morocco. Check out just some of what will be featured at FemFest 2018: Staging Resistance!

04ManoharTheGame2012.jpgThe Game written by Shyamala Dakshinamurti and Sowmya Dakshinamurti

Witness six different perspectives on a single violent incident that occurs to Draupadi, the iconic woman at the heart of The Mahabharata. An exciting first time partnership with Manohar Performing Arts that will combine classical Indian dance with theatre.

 

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Burnt explores the participants and culture of Burning Man using recordings of interviews, conversations, music, dust storms, and chaos. We are excited to welcome Norah Paton from Ottawa to present her work and facilitate a workshop on do it yourself devised work!

 

 

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The Sound of the Beast written and performed by Donna-Michelle St. Bernard

This solo piece by two-time Governor General’s Award Nominee Donna-Michelle St. Bernard (aka Belladonna the Blest) speaks truth to power using spoken word, storytelling and hip-hop. It is particularly exciting to welcome this show produced by the renowned Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto.

 

White Man's Indian.jpgWhite Man’s Indian written and performed by Darla Contois

This is the story of Eva, a Cree teenage girl, and her journey through the maze of a White Man’s high school. After its premiere in Toronto last summer, it is a pleasure to allow this promising Winnipeg artist to share her work in her home town.

 

 

 

cmmLa Civilisation, ma mère!…, from the novel by Driss Chraïbi | adapted by Émilie Malosse

Help us to welcome La Compagnie du Jour & La Compagnie L’Aparté from Morocco.

This play is adapted from the celebrated novel of the same name and tells the story of a young woman who discovers that there was more to her grandmother’s life than she’d ever imagined.  Presented with Théâtre Cercle Molière, this production will enjoy an Arabic reading as well as a French presentation.

 

OUR HOME & native land a reading of a new play by Jo MacDonald

Armed with bannock and ancestral knowledge, teaching ‘Mr. Mansplainer’ and ‘Ms. Selfie Important’ about the Treaties will be as easy as the original signings! After winning the 2017 Bake-Off, we’re proud to present a reading of Jo Macdonald’s full script as part of FemFest 2018!

 

 

Bake off 2016

Bake-Off

Feast your eyes on the annual Bake-Off. We challenge selected playwrights with a list of ingredients and eight hours to cook up their own fantastic theatrical feasts! We are accepting playwright submissions until July 31st: check out full details here!

 

One Night Stand

Instant Gratification. Immediate Results. This series gives creators the opportunity to test their work, while providing audiences a chance to take part in the developmental process. We’ll be featuring readings from our most celebrated writers!

 

As always, we’ll be kicking off with our Opening Cabaret on September 15 featuring a variety of local performers! Stay tuned as we announce more details on the festival, running September 15-22.

One Night Stand Series: Fringe and Fancy-Free!

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The One Night Stand series is back for its final installment of the season: the Carol Shields Festival of New Works, hosted by Prairie Theatre Exchange! This time around, we’ll be showcasing eight works-in-progress in preparation for the 2018 Winnipeg Fringe Festival! For a sneak peek of what’s to come at this year’s Fringe, check out what’s new from local theatre companies:
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One Date City presented by It’s All Relative Productions

Written by Reba Terlson and co-created by Craig Terlson
Directed by Kaeleigh Ayre

Cast: Reba Terlson, Rachel Hiebert, Drew Jensen

Venue: Playhouse Studio

Best friends Morgan and Julie have awful luck with dating. Julie just got out of a relationship and forgets how to date, and Morgan can’t remember the last time she had a worthwhile date. They place a high-stakes bet to see who can go on one great date. They experience catfishing, ghosting, and cushioning as they manoeuvre the dating world.


MLSMother’s Little Secret
presented by Broken Record Productions

Written by Jo MacDonald
Cast: Judy Arnason, Shirley Godfrey, Beverley Grace, Cheryl Soluk

Venue: School of Contemporary Dancers
After her latest accident, two daughters conspire to move their mother into a retirement facility. But Casa Espia is no ordinary senior’s home.

 

Animosity fringe program_v3.5Animosity presented by Downside Up Productions

Written by Wren Brian

Directed by Ntara Curry & Sami Desiree

Cast: Melissa Langdon & Sophie Smith-Dostmohamed

Venue: Forth

Two people. Trapped in an abyss. Refusing to get along. In this absurdist/existentialist play two people struggle with feelings of fear, disconnection, and anger at each other, the space, and themselves. With no memory of who they are or who they are to each other, they have to confront how and why people come to hate each other, as well as how to move forward. This is a companion piece to last year’s Anomie (winner of the Harry Rintoul Award for Best New Manitoban Play at the 2017 Winnipeg Fringe).

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Alex Colville and I presented by Gearshifting Performance Works
Created and performed by Jolene Bailie

Sound: Susan Chafe

Venue: MTC Tom Hendry Warehouse

Alex Colville and I walks a story of admiration and hope. Inspired by the play The Post Mistress by Tomson Highway. In the play, the Post Mistress is a magical French spirit who delivers the mail between the living and the dead.

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Freestyle Fantastique presented by White Rabbit Productions

Created and performed by Simon Miron

Venue: Rachel Browne Theatre

A multidisciplinary work merging spoken word, Hip Hop, dance, live looping, video mixing and montage inspired by Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique.

 

Fractured Expectations Graphic (715x800)Fractured Expectations, a collective creation presented by Timeless Weaver

Directed by Rachel Smith

Cast: Alicia Coulson, Jacob Janzen, Matthew Lupu and Erica Wilson

Venue: Son of Warehouse

What kinds of expectations do you have in life? Finish your degree and immediately find your dream job? Go on a blind date and find the person of your dreams? Expectations can become a positive mantra to help you achieve your goals. Other times they can be a curse: an endless stream of disappointments. Fractured Expectations is a comedic exploration of how to survive in a world of well wishes and inevitability.

 

image1Journey to Kalcedon Island: A Steampunk Adventure presented by Kiss the Giraffe Productions

Written by Joseph Aragon and Heather Madill

Directed by Leith Clark

Cast: Betty Asseiro, Josh Bellan, Sikhona Gwintsa, Jasmine Lontajo, Caelen Rondeau, Tara Streilein, Makis Viado, Nick Xidos, and Josh Caldo

From the creators of The Mystery of Krummhorn Castle (5 STARS—CBC) comes a Steampunk musical odyssey for the whole family! For young geniuses Ada and Lacey LaForge, there’s no problem that a ratchet and slide rule can’t solve. But their journey to find their long-lost aunt becomes a harrowing adventure that tests the limits of their ingenuity. Join the LaForge sisters as they outwit fearsome airship pirates, uncover astonishing family secrets, and maybe bend space and time a little.

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Parked presented by Lady Brain Creative Co.

Written by Katie Grossman with material from Brigitte Sabourin

Directed by Kira Watson

Cast: Katie Grossman and Brigitte Sabourin

Venue: Playhouse Studio

Hazel is a meter maid recently rejected from grad school who’s just trying to make it through her shift. Liz just got her car towed on the worst day of her life. While the two may seem to be polar opposites, they’re more like two sides of the same coin. A heartfelt comedy about figuring out your identity, career and the rest of your life, Parked is what happens when you stay in the same place for too long.

This installment is produced by Tatiana Carnevale, who also produced our 2017 One Night Stand editions! You can check out this exciting preview of upcoming Fringe shows this Saturday, May 26th at 2PM – which will let out in time to also catch New Beginnings at 4PM. And for the final products, you can catch them at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival running July 18-29!

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One Night Stand Series: Another World!

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We’ve brought the One Night Stand series back for another year! This time around, all the submissions take place in a world much like our own – but with a few twists thrown in (heaven-sent chili fries? An evil plot about Mike & Ike’s? The drowned remains of Portage Place? What’s going on here?)

This year’s readings will take place in a studio setting, keeping the focus on the scripts and letting the work speak for itself. All five pieces were directed by Daphne Finlayson and will be performed by an ensemble cast: Betty Asseiro, Kate Berg, Kai Chochinov, Kelsey Funk, Rowan Gannon, Cheryl Soluk, Logan Stefanson, and Ryland Thiessen!

We’ve got a great mix for this edition of experienced playwrights and emerging artists – get to know them below!

A Fine Line by Wren Brian

Wren started her diverse career in Whitehorse, Yukon where she was born and raised. A graduate from the University of Winnipeg’s Theatre & Film Honours Program, Wren is a playwright as well as an arts administrator, director, and producer. In her writing, Wren is dedicated to creating characters that can be played by actors of any gender, ancestry, and age. Recently her play Anomie won the 2017 Harry S. Rintoul Award for Best New Manitoban Play at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, and her play Bystander was one of three plays shortlisted for the Playwrights’ Guild of Canada Emerging Playwright Award in 2015. For more information, visit wrenbrian.com.

520lb Breakfast by J.P. Button

J.P. is a young emerging playwright and director from Winnipeg, Manitoba. They have worked out of the Black Hole Theatre Company as well as completed their Bachelor of Arts in Theatre at the University of Manitoba. They continue to find inspiration from the immense talent of their friends and peers. They hope to continue to write, and also one day find Big Foot. They believe that Big Foot would be a fan of the arts.

The True Deeds of the Illuminati by Thomas Donnelly

This play came to Thomas within one of his many mind rambles. He is a student of the University of Manitoba and enjoys writing, film, theatre, music, drawing, and comic books. He was a part of the 2016-2017 U of M Film Production class as part of the camera crew and recently took part in the university’s 2017-2018 Backstage theatre class. He served as light operator for Pith! and stage manager for Here We Go, the final Lunch B.H.A.G.G. in the Black Hole Theatre Company’s 2017-2018 season. His writing includes many complete and incomplete works that he will get to… eventually; he has other stuff to do.

The Winter Hideout of the Wasp Queen by Larissa Hikel

Larissa is a freelance writer from Winnipeg, MB, who brings a native instinct to her writing, photography and acting. She explores the world from a personally complex place. High school dropout, drifter, used to shifting between identities as they serve her, she has the power to observe life from a wide range of vantage points which she brings to her art.

Here Together by Jonathan Mourant

Jonathan is a Winnipeg improviser, performer, and playwright. He performs regularly with his improv troupe Unexpected Results and serves as an executive and treasurer for the University of Winnipeg Improv and Common Crow Improv. Jonathan has written multiple plays and screenplays including the self-produced Here Together, first performed at the University of Winnipeg’s 2017 DIO Festival and now as part of the One Night Stand series!

Come take part in the future of Winnipeg theatre and hear what’s next from local, up-and-coming playwrights! The One Night Stand series returns Wednesday, April 25th at 7PM in Studio 2T05, Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (400 Colony Street). For more info, check out the event page!

 

 

One Night Stand Returns!

Feature by Daphne Finlayson

Sarasvàti Productions is thrilled to announce that we’re bringing back the One Night Stand series for another year! After a nine-year hiatus, the series returned in 2017 to showcase established writers, playwriting students, and upcoming Fringe productions. The series was produced by Tatiana Carnevale, who also brought One Night Stand to FemFest 2017.

The purpose of the series is to provide emerging and established playwrights with audience feedback on new material or works-in-progress. The evening will feature a line-up of short scenes read by a team of local actors. For many, this will be the first time their work is performed and offers the chance for an outsider’s perspective on a new script.

Daphne Finlayson 2017

Daphne Finlayson

In addition to being the new associate producer here at Sarasvati, I’m also coordinating and directing this year’s One Night Stand series. As for my experience, I’m a recent graduate of the University of Manitoba’s theatre program with a focus on directing. I’ve directed a number of shows in the past, including Stewart Lemoine’s Pith! for the Black Hole Theatre’s 2017-2018 mainstage season as well as shorter one-acts. My play, The Committee, also placed third in this year’s Winnipeg Fringe Festival New Play Contest.

I’m so excited to be working on this series. In the past I’ve helped friends workshop their plays and it’s always so rewarding to see the final product after months of rewrites and tweaking. Anything I can do to help a writer see their work realized on stage for the first time is always such an amazing experience.

Submissions can be anything: a scene that’s giving a writer some trouble, wanting to hear how their dialogue sounds in performance, or seeing how an audience responds to a new short play. The goal for this year’s series is to place a greater focus on serving the playwright’s needs. I’d like to keep the readings simple so the focus stays on what’s on the page, making sure the playwrights get to hear the audience’s response to their work. It’s easy with staged readings to want to turn it into a full-fledged performance, but that takes the focus off the script by making it more about the audience than the playwright.

It’s important to have a series like this to get audiences excited for what’s coming next from new and established talent. We have so many talented writers in this city who need an outlet to showcase their work. One of the biggest challenges with a script is that feeling of ‘what now’: how do I turn this from an idea I had into an actual performance? This series is part of that first step by helping playwrights learn how an outsider – like a director or an actor – has interpreted their work.

Come be a part of this amazing series dedicated to showcasing the future of Winnipeg theatre. The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, February 21st at midnight, emailed to associate@sarasvati.ca. See the submission notice below for guidelines!

 

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Staying Unstoppable Through Change

This week, we’re featuring three more artists from our upcoming International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues: I Am Unstoppable! Get to know them below:

Sweet an Nice – written by Althea Cunningham, performed by Lorraine James

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Althea Cunningham

Cunningham is of Jamaican descent and grew up in Edmonton, AB. She is a graduate of the Theatre Arts Program at MacEwan University and a seasoned performer with a background in acting, writing, music and producing.  In 2005, Cunningham founded her three-tier company Nappy Roots Productions, which focuses on positive stories for the black diaspora in the twenty-first century using writing, acting and music as the vehicle.

Her piece, Sweet an Nice, focuses on the story of her mother as a Jamaican immigrant coming to Canada in the 1970s. “Not only was it culture shock, but there were unexpected challenges she experienced up until the day of her death. My mother, being my most beloved parent, left behind a legacy that I feel needs exploring,” says Cunningham. “It’s a story that deals with intense, painful themes: immigration, discrimination, abuse, and codependency. Writing allows me to explore, heal and move forward from the past.”

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Lorraine James

Bringing Cunningham’s piece to the stage is long-time veteran of Sarasvàti, Lorraine James. James has most recently been seen in the 2017 FemFest Bake-Off, The Mousetrap for Christiefest, When God Comes for Breakfast You Don’t Burn the Toast, and The Appointment.

“I get to portray an experience seemingly outside of myself,” says James. “I’m gaining insight on what it must’ve been like for my parents to uproot their lives to come here, to realize that there are people out there who feel threatened by immigrants and yet have no idea about the real struggles.”

 

I Got 99 Problems, My Penis is Just One – created and performed by Cynthia Fortlage

Cynthia Fortlage headshot 2017

Cynthia Fortlage

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Fortlage has worked as an internationally award-winning information technology executive for the past twenty-nine years with a privately owned Winnipeg company.  She is a board member with various organizations, including Rainbow Resource Center where she sits as President of the Board. Ms. Fortlage came to terms in 2016 with a forty-one-year denial of her true gender identity.

Fortlage created her piece to share some insight as a transgender woman and to share the message of acceptance without understanding. “Acceptance without understanding is a way to see how we interact with each other as human beings first before any gender, sexual preference, age, body shape, country of origin, political or religious beliefs, and so on.”

You can catch these amazing pieces – and many more! – on March 10th at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Ticket information available here!
 

 

 

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.

Kathy France headshot 2017

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.

A.b. Norris headshot 2017

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.”

Monika Thurn und Taxis headshot_2017

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.