A Year in Review

What a year it has been! As 2019 comes to a close, we reflect on all the wonderful successes the year brought. Some of which, we will carry on into 2020…


International Women’s Week 2019 Cabaret of Monologues: Here I Am

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It might sound odd to hear about our last Cabaret of Monologues as the 2020 line-up has already been announced, but it’s a year ago already that the last round of monologues were in the works and preparing for the 2019 tour!

We were so grateful and fortunate to take the cabaret to places we had never gone before! Such as the Women’s Resource Centre in Flin Flon and Aurora house in The Pas. We also took every single one of our monologues to The Canadian Museum of Human Rights for an evening. This tour was incredibly rewarding and we can’t wait to do it all again in a few short months!

Interested in this year’s monologues? Public performance tickets are on sale now. Get them HERE!


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Every year, we host a set schedule of fun and educational workshops for the theatre community. In 2019, we were happy to host five workshops.

This included workshops with panelists like Queering Theatre and How to Make a Living in Theatre. Both allowed us to try out a more inclusive approach with professionals talking amongst workshop participants.

Our annual One Night Stand Series also played a role in 2019 as playwrights were able to meet and work together to improve and workshop their craft.

FemFest 2019 hosted some workshops of it’s own! The Launchpad Project was initiated as a pilot project. It allowed a group of emerging artists to work with established professionals to create and perform their own production, To Kill a Lizard, during FemFest 2019. As well, our guest artist, Yvette Nolan hosted a playwriting masterclass, which culminated in Leaping Off the Page! Where playwrights were able to create and share work, then have it read aloud before an audience.

We also loved working with community groups to use theatre techniques in training settings. A big thank you to SEED Winnipeg, Nor’West Youth Hub, St. John’s High School, and the Manitoba Drama Educators Association for welcoming us!

Find upcoming workshop details HERE!


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On top of our regular workshop schedule, we were happy to start our Reconciliation Through Theatre project! Last spring we hosted consultation circles, then a public sharing with the reading of Jo MacDonald’s OUR HOME & native land. This important community-building work then allowed us to appropriately structure arts-based workshops at seven Indigenous youth organizations all in the name of Reconciliation.

The seven organizations were, Children of the Earth High School, Wahbung Abinoonjiiag, Ndinawe, Knowles Centre, Manitoba Youth Centre, Marymound, and Indigenous Leadership Development Institute.

All of the art created and stories shared are in the works to be curated into a final piece, Songide’ewin, which will be performed at The Forks in May, 2020. You can find more on the upcoming performance HERE!


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Of course, that brings us to FemFest 2019. Our annual festival of transformative feminist theatre! 2019 brought a whole new range of performances to FemFest.

For the first time in FemFest history, we were happy to host a visually impaired performer and her guide dog for, Raising Stanley/Life with Tulia. This production was moving and inspiring for audience members. We were even fortunate enough to host 4 visually impaired spectators and their guide dogs! Who wouldn’t love that?

Pop Art made its debut at FemFest 2019 as well. 4inXchange with company xLq was a unique interactive performance involving only 4 audience members and $1000 cash!

Lastly, Like Mother, Like Daughter warmed our hearts as local Winnipeg Indigenous and Newcomer mother/daughter pairs sat down in front of an audience and answered intimate questions.

FemFest has always had a way of bringing people together and celebrating various types of Canadian theatre, but this year it truly excelled!

The process of FemFest 2020 begins now! We can’t wait to show you what we have in store…


So long 2019, you were a good year for theatre! We hope your year was as good to you as it was to us. We wish you all nothing but the best for 2020 and look forward to sharing more transformative theatre with you in the months to come.

See you next year!


 

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.


 

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!


 

Workshop Your Craft

Preparations for this year’s workshop series is underway! Every year we host a collection of informative and useful workshops for artists, with the goal to cover a variety of topics in the arts.

We played host to two workshops during FemFest 2019, including a Pop Art Performance workshop and a playwriting masterclass. Both workshop sessions during the festival were full to capacity! We find the attendance of the workshops reflect the success and need of our workshops series. With the variety stretching, for example, from Pop Art to playwriting, there really is something for everyone.

Some favourites of the workshop series in the past include…

Hope McIntyre facilitates Auditioning 101Panels – Professionals share insights on crucial topics of discussion in the theatre industry. Many of our recent offerings have shifted to a roundtable structure with a focus on conversation, with everyone attending asking questions and sharing their own insights/experiences. Past discussion have included queering theatre, making a living in theatre and mental health in theatre.

One Night Stand – We have hosted these play readings for a few years now and heard excerpts from close to a hundred works. Local playwrights are invited to submit scripts and a team of actors read them before an audience for an honest response to the question – would you date this play.

Coffee with a Pro – Another fan favourite, is our intimate sessions that involve emerging artists and respective professionals in their industry. The artists and professionals are invited to sit down and talk shop over coffee. This could include actors, directors, stage managers, playwrights… essentially anyone in the industry that might have insightful wisdom and tips to share.

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Emerging Directors having Coffee with Ann Hodges

You can expect these past favourite formats to return with all new topics and facilitators. Roundtables will occur this season on the topics of accessibility and diversity. In addition, we will be offering a movement workshop for performers and a spring Producing 101 crash course for those looking towards the Fringe Festival. We are also revising the One Night Stand series to make it more helpful to playwrights.

Stay tuned for the full calendar of workshop events! In the meantime, we are happy to support The Keep Theatre’s workshop, Intro to Intimacy for the Stage and Film with Siobhan Richardson. To be held on October 24th from 1pm-5pm at The Keep Theatre (525 Wardlaw Avenue).

Siobahn RichardsonActors will learn specific techniques for accessing their vulnerability in a dramatic context, resulting in powerful chemistry between characters without compromising personal boundaries. Also, how to approach preparing for scenes of intimacy in rehearsal, consent, boundaries, your rights (including union rules), and psychological safety. This is not just kissing or sex scenes. The principles can include the intimacy between parents and children, between dear friends, and can also apply to scenes of sexual violence. All touching is consensual, and participants are always invited to sit out and watch, should they feel uncomfortable or triggered.

Those interested in the intimacy workshop are asked to email Sharon Bajer at thekeeptheatre@gmail.com with “Intimacy Workshop” in the subject line.

Another workshop our Artistic Director, Hope McIntyre, is involved in is Brain Lint Theatre School’s Theatre Workout! For actors of all levels, flex your acting muscles with a 6-week theatre workout. The six weeks will cover Shakespeare, voice and speech skills, improv, sketch comedy and our own Hope will facilitate the audition prep session.

Sessions will run on Thursdays on October 17, 24, November 7, 21, 28, and December 5 from 7pm-9pm. Cost is $290.00, visit Brain Lint Theatre School to register!

To read more on past Sarasvàti workshops, visit our website under the “workshop” tag HERE!