Welcome, Fawnda!

We are so excited to welcome the newest staff member to the Sarasvàti Productions team… Fawnda Neckoway!

Fawnda

Fawnda Neckoway from the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation in Manitoba, born and raised in Winnipeg. Fawnda studied at the Academy of Acting and is an alumni of the National Screen Institute. Her background is in film as an Actress and Casting Director. She has worked with companies such as Eagle Vision, CBC, Netflix and Film Training Manitoba. She also performed in “We Were Children”, a true story about two residential school survivors and their time in the schools. Outside of the workplace, Fawnda is a proud momma who enjoys fitness and values family, culture and creating. She is passionate about the arts and working closely within the Indigenous community.

Most recently Fawnda casted APTN’s television show “Taken” for Seasons 3 and 4. This was a true crime documentary series focusing on solving the mysteries behind missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. She was also the Aboriginal Programs Coordinator at Film Training Manitoba and worked closely with the Indigenous community. She managed an Aboriginal career focus program where she paired participants with on-set work experience and workshop opportunities. In her private life, Fawnda is a proud mother who enjoys going to the gym. Fawnda describes herself as being “shy at first but outgoing and pretty hilarious once comfortable”! Fawnda enjoys being able to connect people with opportunities through the arts and hopes to one day create her own productions through media.

Fawnda is an excellent addition to our team! Bringing a background of film, theatre and television both behind the scenes and as a performer, as well as experience in working with community organizations and youth. Fawnda will be our part-time administratorSongide'ewin(3) with a focus on community outreach and engagement. Fawnda’s intial primary focus will be on Songide’ewin. For more information on the show click HERE! To get in touch with Fawnda for information on Songide’ewin or how to get involved, she can be reached at associate@sarasvati.ca

Welcome to the team, Fawnda! We’re so happy to have you here.


 

The Dream Team

The Cabaret of Monologues wouldn’t happen without the amazing team backstage and behind the curtain. Our performers bring life to the cabaret, while our production team works hard behind the scenes to make sure there’s a cabaret to begin with!

IMG_5262As always, we have our fabulous Director (and Artistic Director of Sarasvàti Productions) Hope McIntyre. Hope rehearses with the artists multiple times a week to make sure the monologues are polished and ready to hit the stage. Hope first started International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues in 2004 and has continued directing the Cabaret ever since.IMG_5267

Alongside Hope is Associate Director, Rachel Smith. This will be Rachel’s seventh year with the Cabaret, co-running rehearsals, providing extra rehearsal time to the performers, and advising on ways to make the event better and better.

Tamera Friesen Headshot (2019_03_29 16_19_18 UTC)Tamera Grace joins the team as Stage Manager for this year’s cabaret. Tamera was also the Stage Manager for last year’s Cabaret of Monologues. Her work behind the scenes during the tour is a huge help as she manages the touring sound system and technical side of the show. She even helped drive during last year’s trek to Flin Flon and The Pas!

Brooklyn Kilfoyle works in the office as the tour coordinator, initiating and maintaining contact with the venues we are lucky to perform at during the tour. Brooklyn is also in the process of creating a trailer for the tour, including interviews and sneak peaks of some of the monologues!


For more information on International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues: Changes click HERE!


 

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.


 

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.


 

Until Next Year, FemFest

It takes a village… to run a festival! We would like to extend a huge “Thank You” to everyone who helped make FemFest 2019: All the World’s a Stage possible! To our performers, playwrights, facilitators, directors, stage managers, choreographers, volunteers, donors and spectators, FemFest would not have been possible without all of you.

If you made it out to FemFest 2019 as a spectator this year, thank you! We hope you enjoyed this year’s programming of unique and progressive theatre. If you weren’t able to make it out, no worries! There’s always next year and all of the years to come.

This year 110artists and production folks made the festival happen. Add to that 39 volunteers working on site. We sold out our Bake-Off, sold out our first Like Mother, Like Daughter showing, and broke a record with our raffle! Over 1,200 people came out and with intimate shows that could only seat 4 people that’s pretty impressive. We packed 46 scheduled events in to 8 days and we certainly needed time to recover after.

From the eventful opening cabaret to the closing reception, we have compiled photos from this year’s festival for your viewing pleasure! Take a look…

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We also want to hear what your highlights were this year and what you would like to see more of in the future – send us an e-mail, tag us in social media, or heck even feel free to give us a call!

As the age old saying goes, “When one door closes, another one opens.” With FemFest 2019 closed, we now start looking into the future and ask artists from across Canada to submit for FemFest 2020! Submissions are open until the end of November, giving us plenty of time to review your hard work and make decisions for next year’s festival. See the call for scripts and proposals below…

FemFest 2020: Engaging Community- Celebrating Winnipeg’s 18th Festival of Life-Changing Theatre for Everyone

We are currently seeking submissions of scripts for production, short performance pieces for various showcases and expressions of interest from artists with unique ideas for engaging community. Our focus this year will be on productions and processes that build bridges with new artists or partners. All submissions must be from Canadian women. We use an inclusive definition of “woman” and “female” and we welcome pieces created by all who fit under either of these categories/identifiers. Technical and set requirements must be minimal due to the festival setting. A reading committee will assess submissions in order to program a balanced festival.

For more information on how to submit, visit our website HERE!

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date on the rest of the season, including our Art of Reconciliation Fundraiser coming up in just two and a half weeks- Tickets available HERE.

From all of us at Sarasvàti Productions, thank you again for such a successful 17th annual FemFest. We can’t wait to see you next year!

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!

In the Director’s Chair with Bronwyn Steinberg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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