Do What You Love/You’ll Never Work A Day

Coming up this weekend… “Making a Living in Theatre” a round-table discussion with five professionals at the ready to answer all and any questions you may have about making a living in the theatre industry! Plus, a chance to share your own experiences. Whether you’re just starting out, or you’ve been in the industry for years, all are welcome!

Here is a sneak peek at who you can expect to see this Saturday, June 22nd at 2pm:


KATIE GERMAN Katie

Katie German is a Winnipeg based performer, director and educator. She received her training in Musical Theatre Performance at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton and studied classical voice through the University of Manitoba.

Katie is the owner and director of Junior Musical Theatre Company (JMTC), a pre-professional children’s musical theatre company which teaches the basics of singing, dancing and acting culminating in two performances yearly. Katie is also the Artistic Associate with Manitoba Theatre for Young People, a Voice Director and character voice for an upcoming cartoon due for release in January 2019, a theatre performer and a mother to a beautiful four-year-old that loves to sing and dance.


KAREN SCHELLENBERG

Karen Schellenberg is an instructor and production manager at the University of Manitoba. She oversees all technical aspects for productions with the Theatre Program while teaching its Technical Theatre students the joys of backstage work. She enjoys designing lights, sets, and costumes for some of its major productions, most recently set and lights for Love’s Labour’s Lost and costumes for Peer Gynt and Marat/Sade.

Karen trained at the U of M’s Black Hole Theatre Company before spending several years as a professional stage hand in Toronto and surrounding areas. After returning to Winnipeg to work at the university, Karen nurtured local contacts by catching theatre calls and working in summer festivals. Find her back at the Fringe this summer!


DONNA FLETCHERDonna Fletcher photo low res.

Donna Fletcher is an accomplished actor, singer, and concert performer with a wide range of national experience in theatre, musical theatre, and symphonic work.  Proud of her prairie roots, Donna received her early training in Winnipeg and earned a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Manitoba, a diploma in Music Theatre from The Banff Centre for the Arts, a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from The University of Toronto and trained in Shakespeare text & voice at the Simon Fraser Voice Intensive.

As an actor, Donna has been acclaimed in principle roles from east to west with the Charlottetown Festival, Drayton Festival, Rainbow Stage, Theatre Calgary, Stage West Calgary, the National Arts Centre, Manitoba Opera, MTC, PTE, MTYP, WJT, the Belfry Theatre and Persephone Theatre.  She has performed with the Winnipeg Symphony; the Florida Orchestra, and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and was featured on the CBC Radio’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera.

Donna will direct the first regional production of Phantom of the Opera at Opera on the Avalon in October 2019 and has the distinction of being the first Winnipeg born female to direct at Rainbow Stage. Her favourite role of all time is being mum to Amalia.


FRANCES KONCAN

Frances Koncan is an Anishinaabe-Slovenian writer, director, and independent theatre and film producer originally from Couchiching First Nation. She attended Fort Richmond Collegiate, where she studied french horn and skipped all her other classes. Later, she went to the University of Manitoba, where she said goodbye to her career as a professional musician for a lucrative degree in Psychology instead. When the economy was tragically struck by a recession, she saw a perfect opportunity to pursue what was to be the most financially responsible career path of all time, and flew off to New York City to study Playwriting at Brooklyn College! Since then, she has returned back to Winnipeg where she evenly divides her time between yachting, writing, and curating her social media presence. She has been nominated for several awards, but never wins any of them. She prints all her grant applications on pink, scented paper to give it that extra something special.

VAULT PROJECTS is an independent theatre collective with a focus on creating new theatrical work for our contemporary cultural climate, and re-envision classics through a decolonized, pop culture lens.


SIMON MIRON

Simon Miron is a writer, director, actor and arts educator based out of Winnipeg Manitoba. He has been teaching for over a decade and has participated in the development and creation of dozens of new works. He obtained his Masters from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, which was recently ranked in the Top 5 performing arts schools in the world. Recent simoncredits include: Writer: Freestyle Fantastique, Corner Of, Voices in my head. Director: Pippin (ViC/WST) The Last 48 (ArtLaunch), American Idiot, Young Frankenstein (WST), Lucky Stiff (MDA), Songs for a New World (WRP), 7Stories (TBTR). Actor: Little Shop of Horrors, South Pacific, Les Misérables, The Little Mermaid, The Producers (Rainbow), Selkrik Avenue, Bridges of Madison County (DryCold), Am I not King (zone41/Royal Canoe), Butcher, Le Père, Heyderabad (CM), House on Pooh Corner, James and The Giant Peach, Honk (MTYP) and Blithe Spirit (Echo Theatre), Sunday in the Park with George (Galleryworks). He is a founding member of the Village Conservatory for Music Theatre.


The discussion takes place this Saturday, June 22nd at 2PM! Follow the signs in the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film up to room 2T05 where we will have refreshments and friendly faces ready to answer questions, listen, talk, and share. The event is pay-what-you-choose and will run between 1.5-2 hours.

We hope to see you there!

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To Infinity… And Beyond!

Forging a future for FemFest requires providing a space for the next generation of voices. To this end we have initiated an exciting new program. At this year’s FemFest, you will get to see the results of their development in progress! “The Launchpad Project” compiles a roster of emerging women and non-binary artists whose creative mediums range from a variety of disciplines: directors, dancers, performers, playwrights, technical crew, etc. This diverse and well rounded team will take part in intensive workshops over the summer including: movement work, vocal work, improvisation, devised theatre and scene-writing. Professionals working in Winnipeg’s theatre industry will lead these workshops and mentor the creative team.

The goal of this project is to give emerging artists a chance to learn, develop skills and network with industry professionals. How does it tie into FemFest? Along with all of the professional shows we put on at FemFest in September, The Launchpad will premiere a devised production connected to the FemFest theme just for YOU! The result of ongoing rehearsals over the summer and training alongside professionals! This is an exciting opportunity for both the artists and the spectators alike. The Launchpad ensemble will have the chance to display their hard work for you the audience, while spectators will have the chance to see a brand new work of theatre with a fresh cast and crew.

Facilitating and Coordinating the Launchpad are Victoria Hill and Lindsay Johnson. They are ecstatic to be helping a new group of performers break through and create their own piece for FemFest.

As for the ensemble members… here’s a list of who you can expect to see:

  • A.J. Hotomani
  • Anaka Sandhu
  • Anika Dowsett
  • Emma Welham
  • Jonathan Mourant
  • Karam Daoud
  • Leaf Pankratz
  • Makrenna Sterdan
  • Sara Groleau
  • Sarah Flynn

We can’t wait to see what this amazing team comes up with! We know it will be riveting!

Stay tuned for more details on this exciting project and the up-and-comers involved. Also, check out our just launched FemFest 2019 website!

NEW BLOOD

As we get closer to Fem Fest 2019, we have brought on two new staff members eager to help us ring in the festival year! Please join us in welcoming Sami Desiree as our new Production Assistant and Brooklyn Kilfoyle as our new Marketing and Community Outreach Assistant.  We asked the girls to tell us a little bit about themselves so we can all get to know them a little better.Sami Headshot 2019

Sami Desiree is currently a production student at the University of Winnipeg. Her passion for theatre started at a young age when she began acting. She has since developed her interests and has begun working in various aspects of theatre including production, directing, designing and producing. Sami founded Beau Theatre Co in 2017 and since has produced four full productions with the company. She could not do any of it without the support of her partner Matt and her cat Zella.

Now, she joins the Sarasvàti team as our new Production Assistant! An opportunity Sami says she is, “excited and deeply grateful” for.

“I am blown away by the care Hope and the whole Sarasvàti team puts into their work.”- Sami Desiree

She cannot wait to be part of that initiative.

Currently, Sami is working on a summer tour with Beau Theatre Co, taking the show, Seascape with Sharks and Dancer, to Regina International Fringe Festival and Gimli’s A-Spire Theatre Festival. You may also catch her in a tech booth somewhere controlling light and sound.

Brooklyn HeadshotBrooklyn Kilfoyle has been an active member of the theatre community from a young age. Her passion has always been performing; whether it is on a big stage under lights or in her living room dimly lit by the television. Brooklyn has recently completed her degree in Theatre with The University of Winnipeg. When she’s not performing, Brooklyn enjoys spending time with her friends and family, including (and quite often limited to) her dog and best friend Bowie. Currently, Brooklyn is rehearsing for the 2019 season of the Winnipeg Fringe, where she will be performing with her own company, 803 Productions. This is the first time Brooklyn has both written and will be performing her own work. The play is titled Growing Op and will be performed during The Winnipeg Fringe Festival at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film.

Though her medium bends towards acting, she has joined the behind the scenes action of the theatre world with us at Sarasvàti Productions as our newest Marketing and Community Outreach Assistant!

“I am excited to be part of a theatre company that promotes positivity and change!”- Brooklyn Kilfoyle

Best of luck, Sami and Brooklyn! We’re happy to have you both on board.

Keep an eye out for more information on Fem Fest 2019, coming soon!

Exploring Responses to Reconciliation

We’re excited to share what’s come out of Seven Visions: Reconciliation through Theatre project launch! We’ve had incredible audiences over the last few days respond to the notion of reconciliation. There’s one more chance to be part of the conversation tonight at 7pm!

We’ve had a great experience so far working with the amazing artists who are part of this project – here are just some of the reasons they’re excited to be involved as we look ahead to the next phase of the project!

I’m very excited about this project because I feel like the perspective that comes forward in the play is very important – very comedic, very funny, very relatable – to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. I’m really excited to see how that affects the audience.” – Darla Contois, Performer, OUR HOME & native land and Indigenous Advisory Committee member

 

 

As an artist engaged with this project, I’m hoping to work with some youth on creating art works that really bring forward their voices and their thoughts on reconciliation and what that means to them. The interactive art work we’re creating at the theatre allows for the public to come out and have their voices heard around reconciliation as well.” – Jaime Black, Visual Artist

I think it’s really important to have reconciliation in theatre because it’s a very important way of communicating different styles. Historically speaking, theatre came from settler colonies – Britain, mainly – and First Nations and Indigenous peoples’ way of communicating and passing down knowledge has been storytelling. What is storytelling but performance and theatre? The coming together and meeting in that spot is really important for reconciliation.” – Nova Courchene, Indigenous Project Coordinator

 

 

It’s been almost three years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its final report. It put out a challenge to all Canadians. While it was a legal proceeding and even bringing to bear the need for an apology, that doesn’t really bring reconciliation. What we present is an opportunity to have a difficult discussion in a creative and stimulating environment involving youth. There will be hard discussions and there will be hard topics, but it will also be creative and full of hope.” – Myra Tait, Vice President and Indigenous Advisory Committee member

 

 

We’ve had some incredible audience responses so far as community members interact with the art installations, writing down their thoughts and responses to how each of us can do our part for reconciliation. One audience member mentioned that growing up, Indigenous peoples’ history wasn’t taught in her school and it wasn’t until much later in life that she was able to learn more about her own history. Starting this project with a focus on youth allows for an earlier connection to one’s roots. As well, discussions after OUR HOME & native land focused on how each of us can avoid being a “George”: admitting when we don’t know something and recognizing the importance of listening when others have something to teach us.

Discussions from this event will also help us as we move forward in shaping the full production for May 2020. Huge thank you to Patrick Rabago for these incredible photos from the event so far! For more information on the project, check out our website.

Consulting with Youth: Seven Visions

The first component of our Reconciliation through Theatre project is in the books! Over the past few weeks, our team has been meeting with Indigenous youth to discuss what they’d like to see for our upcoming workshop series. We’ll be sharing a full recap of these first meetings at Seven Visions: Reconciliation through Theatre running May 4-9, but read on for a teaser!

Project Coordinator Nova Courchene, Visual Artist Jaime Black, and our Indigenous Community Outreach Coordinator Marsha Knight have been hard at work meeting with youth across our seven different partner organizations.

 

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For our sessions with Ndinawe, our team looked at creating an ongoing art project for youth to drop in and add on their versions of the teachings. By giving them a way to express themselves, the youth were more likely to open up through art than chatting around a table each session. We’re excited to see how this piece will evolve over time!

At Wahbung Abinoonjiiag, participants believed parents passing along the Seven Sacred Teachings was important to help youth connect with their culture, stemming from elders down to their families and younger siblings.

For one youth, the teachings are about “history, teaching about what your ancestors did. Learning from your history, and how to be a good person.”

“Reconciliation” can mean many different things to different people. At the Indigenous Leadership Development Institute, youth shared their own definitions:

Reconciliation means fixing your wrong doings.”

Reconciling is about your past self and who you are now, and you become your true self from the meeting of the two.”

Reconciliation is about reconnecting others together, bringing people together and connecting one another.”

For youth at Children of the Earth High School, reconciliation takes on a different meaning: “Say someone burned your house down and is now helping you rebuild a house. Not just going ahead and building the house themselves, but finding out what you need in that house.” Youth were also interested in the evolution of Indigenous fashion over time, from the seventies and traditional regalia through to present day appropriation by the fashion industry. As the head of the REDress Project, Jaime was able to offer insight on the use of fashion to shine a light on missing and murdered Aboriginal women across Canada.

Possible art forms for the workshops will cover anything from film, visual art, music, animation, improv, Claymation – you name it! Our team was able to share in a smudging ceremony with the youth at Knowles Centre before kicking off their conversations. For their participants, athletics is an important a way to express themselves and build trust with new members.

For youth at Manitoba Youth Centre, there was an importance of learning about reconciliation with both sides in mind. When two members had had a conflict, they got together and talked.That was an important way to look at reconciliation without placing blame on one side.

Some organizations received an “ancestor stone” to maintain throughout the journey of the project. Marymound youth learned about the importance of the elder stones, how the spirits of their ancestors are contained in the rocks to offer guidance and support.

We’re excited to continue working with these youth and look forward to seeing the final production in May 2020! Join us for one of the 4 presentation dates between May 4 to 9 to learn more and provide input on the project.

 

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Treating the Treaties with Humour

Well-written, very funny.”

“Hilarious!”

“Great way to convey serious info.”

These are just a few of the great things audiences had to say about OUR HOME & native land! Armed with bannock and ancestral knowledge, teaching “Mr. Mansplainer” and “Ms. Selfie-Important” about the Treaties will be as easy as the original signings! OUR HOME & native land confronts treaty violations and our history with wit and sarcasm as thick as the Indian Act.

Jo MacDonald

Jo MacDonald

After winning our 2017 FemFest Bake-Off, and a powerful reading at FemFest 2018, we’re excited to present a reading of Jo MacDonald’s revised script as part of our public project launch Seven Visions: Reconciliation Through Theatre! Writing a comedy that teaches folks about treaties is no easy task, but local playwright Jo MacDonald is up to the task. Jo 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 this past July. Jo’s play NEECHIE-ITAS will premiere in Oklahoma this June.

 

Heidi Malazdrewich Headshot

Heidi Malazdrewich

Directing the reading is Heidi Malazdrewich, who previously dramaturged the play for its reading in September 2018. Heidi is a director, dramaturg, and theatre educator. Selected directing credits: The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night- Time (Canadian Premiere, RMTC/ Citadel Theatre), Ladies Foursome (Theatre Baddeck), Di and Viv and Rose (RMTC), Romeo and Juliet (SIR), Myth of the Ostrich (RMTC), The New Canadian Kid (MTYP), and The Secret Annex (World Premiere, RMTC). Heidi holds an MFA in directing from the University of Calgary and is currently pursuing a PhD in Theatre and Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Manitoba.

There was great feedback on the script in past iterations. It is being reworked with expert support. Acting as dramaturge for this reading is acclaimed Indigenous playwright Yvette Nolan.

 

Yvette Nolan.jpg

Yvette Nolan

Yvette Nolan (Algonquin) is a playwright, director, and dramaturg. Plays include 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.

You can enjoy a reading of MacDonald’s script as part of Seven Visions: Reconciliation Through Theatre project launch and presentation running May 4-9. Admission is pay-what-you-can-afford. For more information and to reserve seats, visit our website!

What Does Reconciliation Mean To You?

In January, we’ll be kicking off our next long-term initiative! Our new collaborative project will focus on reconciliation through storytelling and theatre. A team of Indigenous artists will work with Indigenous youth to capture their lived experiences and bring them to the stage. Storytelling will be used to explore the truth about current experiences of racism and discrimination in Winnipeg.  Ultimately a large community gathering and performance will take place engaging the public in the important and challenging dialogue about how to make a better community. Using the arts to explore the current reality of racism will allow us to take a powerful step forward towards true reconciliation.

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Marsha Knight

Beginning steps on this initiative are being undertaken by our Indigenous Community Outreach Coordinator, Marsha Knight. Marsha has been involved in theatre for over twenty years in many capacities both on and off stage. She has worked on several past productions with Sarasvàti, including consulting on Two Indians at FemFest 2017 and performing in Breaking Through and Eden.

“When I learned of the Winnipeg Foundation’s funding announcement for reconciliation projects, I remember having varied feelings of elation and interest,” says Marsha. “I was quite excited at this opportunity for community building and to know that the Winnipeg Foundation made a commitment to the ongoing process of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.”

This project will involve working with Indigenous youth, Knowledge Keepers, Elders, and professional artists to gather stories. “What is exciting for me is that we are asking the youth, with the guidance of the Knowledge Keepers and the support of artists, to develop a contemporary perspective of the teachings of this region of Turtle Island,” says Marsha.

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Jaime Black

Indigenous artist Jaime Black will also be on board to help bring the project to life.  Jaime is a Metis multidisciplinary artist based in Winnipeg. She studied English Literature at the University of Manitoba and has an Education degree from The Ontario Institute of Studies in Education. She has taught in Opaskwayak Cree Nation in the Pas, Manitoba, has worked developing art curriculum for the Urban Shaman: Contemporary Aboriginal Art, and has long been involved in the Aboriginal writers and artists communities in Winnipeg. She is also head of the REDress Project, an installation-based art project focused around the issue of missing or murdered Aboriginal women across Canada.

Phase One of the project will start this year as we engage in consultation circles within the community and then undertake workshops to explore their connection to the teachings. Phase Two will then bring in artists, performers, designers, and directors to shape the youth’s creations into our next full production, keeping in consultation with Knowledge Keepers to ensure the integrity of their stories as the production develops.

“The voices of Indigenous youth are strong and much wiser than most people allow,” says Marsha. “This production will be a beautiful, awakening message combining traditional and contemporary storytelling.”

We’ll be launching the first phase of the project with a public gathering in May 2019 with the full production to come in Spring 2020. Stay tuned as we announce more on this exciting new endeavour!