Powerful Performances Provoke Dialogue

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Record-breaking attendance, 10 stories, 11 community performances and over 800 people affected. This year, we set out to do something different with our Cabaret of Monologues. We had chosen a challenging theme, Stolen Sisters, with the goal of inspiring change by creating a platform for women to share perspectives on gender-based violence. In order to include more perspectives we worked with many women who do not traditionally tell their stories in a theatre setting. We welcomed these women’s stories to the Cabaret in diverse forms; dance, spoken word, slam poetry, oral storytelling, and visual art. The result of these collaborative efforts was an incredibly powerful production.

“What a beautiful show. I don’t know how you do it again and again…was so moved by all of the pieces” said Cairn Moore, who was in the audience for Saturday’s matinee. Cairn is a playwright and director who’s play Shiksa is currently premiering at Winnipeg Jewish Theatre.

“The relevance of the topics, the passion of the performers and the emotional impact on the audience are transformational”, said  Ms. Terry Price, Department Head of Professional and French Language Services with the Manitoba Teachers’ Society. Ms. Price hosted performances of three pieces at the Canadian Teacher’s Federation Women’s Symposium.

Sharing the stage with non-traditional theatre performers was an exciting experience! So was performing the pieces throughout the community in non-theatre settings. Intimate, informal, and often ad hoc DIY performance spaces can pose challenges, but our performers rose to these challenges with exuberance! This gave us the chance to make this art accessible and to connect with so many non-theatre goers in our community.

“It was such an honour performing as part of the Sarasvati Transformative ‪Stolen Sisters‬ Cabaret of Monologues this evening at the Thunderbird House on ‪International Women’s Day‬”, said Shaneen Robinson, reporter at Aboriginal Peoples Television Network and performer in Stolen Sisters. “Thanks to all who came to show support in our fight to raise awareness and put a stop to ‪‎MMIW‬ in our country.”

We are especially thankful to have had the chance to perform this productions for staff and clientele of crisis and resource centres in and around Winnipeg.

“As a Manitoba women’s shelter director, I know that our staff hear many stories from women escaping abuse and violence – our work is very challenging. Today’s monologues were outstanding and I found the theme very relevant to the clients we support” said Pam Hadder, Executive Director at Agape House-Eastman Crisis Centre in Steinbach, Manitoba.

“The performers and the content of this year’s monologues were incredible! Each performer did an outstanding job of entertaining us and informing us of current social issues. Very dramatic, very thought provoking, and very important! Thank you so much for giving us this opportunity to build awareness in our community”, said Anna Pazdzierski, the Executive Director of Nova House Inc.

Thank you to all of our supporters, volunteers, audience, community hosts, performers, writers, Board of Directors and funders for helping to make our International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues – Stolen Sisters a huge success. It was a pleasure to work with so many amazing women.

Fefu and Her Friends: Female Talent Galore!

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Murder, tea, and nightmare interrogations in a big old heritage house?!? We bet we’ve got your attention now. Sarasvàti Productions is thrilled to bring Winnipeg audiences the incredible Fefu and Her Friends by Maria Irene Fornes next month. Set in the spring of 1935, the play takes place inside a country house and takes the audience through an entire day, beginning in the morning as Fefu’s guests arrive to plan a charity event and climaxing in a murder scene in the evening. On today’s blog we are pleased to continue to introduce our incredible cast of 8 local female theatre artists! This week, meet Brenda McLean and Tracy Penner, two fabulous Winnipeg Women who are no strangers to the stage. Watch out for Brenda who will play the role of Christina and Tracy who will take on the part of Cindy in this much anticipated Winnipeg premiere. Keep reading to find out more about these local stars and this unique production.

Brenda McLean_HeadshotBrenda McLean is excited about working on this play in the beautiful and inspiring historical setting of the Ralph Connor house. Her previous collaboration with Sarasvàti was directing “Harold and Vivian” in their last FemFest, where she had many many laughs. This spring she is directing “The Weir” for PTE’s Adult Company and Costume Designing “The Comedy of Errors” for SIR. Brenda is also Co-Artistic Director of Theatre Incarnate, who will be doing a reading during Carol Shields this May.

Tracy Penner_colourTracy Penner is delighted to be working with Sarasvàti again! Other local companies she’s worked with include RMTC, TPM, zone 41, Root Sky Productions, SIR, and WJT. In Edmonton, select theatre companies include Catalyst Theatre, Shadow Theatre, Concrete Theatre, and Vault: Theatre of Invention. Tracy is a graduate of the University of Alberta.

Get to know these stars better with our hilarious up close and personal questions. Any guesses as to which famous Shakespearean character these stars both want to play someday? Keep reading to find out!

 

Where would you love to travel?

BRENDA: London, Ireland, Spain. I’d start in London and travel south.

TRACY: There are many places I’d love to see, but my top picks would have to be Greece and The Maritimes.

If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?

BRENDA: Maybe something from Adele or Bruno Mars.

TRACY: ‘Blue Skies’ would be my pick but if that were too old school, maybe John Legend’s new song ‘All of Me’.

What role would you love to play one day?

BRENDA: Lady Macbeth

TRACY: I would love to play Shakespeare’s ‘Lady M’ one day!

Fefu and Her Friends is a site-specific theatrical experience that is sure to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The piece will be presented inside West Broadway’s Ralph Connor House (54 West Gate). We are incredibly excited to use this heritage house venue as it fulfills our mandate of using new or non-traditional forms of theatrical representation to tell stories. Fefu and her Friends will have audiences travel to different spaces throughout the house while watching its compelling story unfold. Don’t miss out on this event! Due to our unique venue, there are only 60 seats per performance. Act now and get your tickets before it’s too late.

SYTYCA Scenes Announced!

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Fighting for women’s rights, worst way to get a date, unplanned pregnancies, underpants, and more! We bet we’ve got your attention now. Today, we are pleased to announce the scenes we will be featuring in this year’s So You Think You Can Act fundraising event. Each celebritiy will be paired with an actor to perform one of these contemporary plays. This year’s theme is The Revolution Starts Now and has resulted in a collection of scenes with something for everyone! The scenes feature an array of works by Canadian playwrights including a scene from local playwright Ginny Collins piece Good Intentions which premiered at the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre this fall, and  a piece by Christopher Durang who is known for his outrageous and absurd comedy. Keep reading to find out which scene your favourite celebritity will be featured in!

SYTYCA 2014 Featuring:

Alison Gillmor as DEB in The Girl Who Loved Castro by Colleen Curran
Deb is sipping a Mojito in a small cantina in Havana, Cuba boasting about her admiration for Fidel Castro. What will Maria, the fed-up cantina keeper, do when she’s finally had enough?

Jim Ingebrigtsen as GALBRAITH in The Essay by Hannah Moscovitch
What is history? It’s up for debate as Galbraith and Jeffery, his teaching assistant, argue the merits of a female student’s paper.

Obby Khan as WENDLE in Riot by Andrew Moodie
If you ask Wendle, the first thing he’ll say is “*$@# Quebec”! After all, English is the international language of business. Who needs French?

Eva Kovacs as FRANCIS in The Fighting Days by Wendy Lill
Francis is loud, Francis is proud, and Francis will NOT make a spectacle of herself at the suffrage parade! She believes change is coming, great change, but we must keep fighting!

Kris Laudien as PETER in Good Intentions by Ginny Collins
Peter just isn’t good at asking a beautiful women out on a date. Will he get the girl?

Big Daddy Tazz as SIMON in Kiss The Moon, Kiss The Sun by Norm Foster
You’re what??!! Simon swears this must mean only one thing. He does in fact have lasersperm.

Troy Westwood as LEONARD in Why Torture Is Wrong, And The People Who Love Them by Christopher Durang
Leonard is on a serious mission with his trusty side-kick Hildegarde. He only wishes her panties would stop falling down.

So You Think You Can Act: The Revolution Starts Now will be held on Feburary 19th, 2014 at 7:00pm at the Gas Station Arts Centre (445 River Ave.). There will be thousands of dollars worth of raffle prizes donated by local businesses plus a wine reception afterwards! Tickets are $25 dollars and can be purchased online by clicking here or by calling our office at (204) 586-2236. We hope you will join us for a fantastic evening in support of the transformative theatre work of Sarasvàti Productions!

Get The Inside Scoop!

What teen playwright will be showcased at this year’s Cabaret of Monologues? Join our mailing list and find out! Worried about our messages flooding your inbox? Don’t be! We know people receive far too many e-mails, so we will only send you our quaterly newsletter with information on what is keeping us busy and a limited number of special news updates leading up to our events. Still not convinced? Keep reading for more reasons why you should join our mailing list and for a special sneak peek at our latest December 1st newsletter sent out earlier this week!

Top 5 Reasons Why YOU Should Join Our Mailing List:

1. It’s easy! Simply click here and provide us with your name and e-mail. That’s it! If you prefer to provide your information over the phone, feel free to call our office at (204) 586-2236 and request to be added to our list. We are happy to help!

2. Be the first to know! All our mailing list subscribers will receive The Pulse, our quaterly newsletter, which includes exciting news about upcoming events and what’s in the works for Sarasvàti Productions.

3. Find out about upcoming talent in Winnipeg! In each newsletter, we feature a Rising Star to watch out for in Winnipeg. Read more about this months Rising Star below in a special sneak peek.

4. We appreciate you! We understand you have many options to choose from when it comes to mailing lists and we greatly appreciate that you’ve chosen ours. Becoming a subsciber will allow us the first of many opportunities to connect with you and thank you for your ongoing support and encouragement.

5. It’s easy and safe to unsubscribe. If you ever decide you don’t want to receive updates from us, simply click the unsubscribe option at the bottom of the e-mail.

Join our mailing list now and stay on the lookout for our next issue of The Pulse to be released on March 1st, 2014! Before you go, be sure to check out the Rising Star section of our recent December 1st newsletter below.

Rising Star

Hannah Burns

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We are excited to have Hannah on board as one of our teen writers for this year’s Cabaret of Monologues. Who better to write about young women taking a stand then a young woman herself?

Hannah Burns is a seventeen year old student at St. Mary’s Academy. Last year she took her first year of drama and stumbled upon her passion. Auditioning for a small part in a school play, she enjoyed acting, but really found joy in writing. Her play Schitz won first place in the Scirocco Playwriting competition and since then she has been writing as much as possible.

Click here for the full newsletter!

Transforming Tomorrow – Help us make a difference!

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“I laughed so hard my face hurt!” This is just one of the comments from the sold out crowd at our recent Rumor’s Comedy Fundraiser. A huge thank you to all of our supporters for coming out, to our amazing board for their work and to the Fundraising and Development Committee who coordinated it all. We know there is fundraising fatigue out there. It’s a tricky business trying to bring in the funds necessary to support the arts. The question is often raised why the arts can’t support themselves. From our perspective it is the nature of the type of art we create. It is community based, our goal is to make it accessible to all and it often includes working with marginalized groups who do not have the funds to cover the costs. The power of the work we do is clear to those who see it in action. More broadly as we joined our colleagues for Arts Day at City Hall on November 12th, what became clear is that the arts are an important investment not just due to their community building potential but because of their strong economic impact. With 25,000 Winnipegers employed in the industry and 1 billion in gross domestic product, we contribute a huge amount to the local economy and for each dollar spent on the arts it comes back several times over in benefits to other local businesses.

So, although we love creating great art and believe in the impact of the work, we also know we cannot do it alone. There are lots of ways you can get involved as volunteers and as audience. We are about to announce our So You Think You Can Act line-up and tickets for this fundraiser are already available. It is always a great time as you watch local celebrities try their hand at acting. As the holidays approach consider tickets to this amazing night out as a gift for friends or family. As well, the end of November is the deadline for us to receive matching funds for donations to our endowment. Your contribution to the endowment fund will result in double the value and provides you with a charitable tax receipt before the end of tax year.

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Our endowment fund is held at The Winnipeg Foundation and is another great way to nurture growth in your community and maximize available funding. Long term financial stability is essential to achieving our mandate. By making a donation to our endowment fund, you will help us to continue creating and producing important, powerful works. In the past, interest from the endowment fund has supported our annual FemFest and unique projects like Jail Baby. One project we are extremely excited about is Giving Voice, our latest youth-based piece created by and about youth in care. This piece will tour to Manitoba high schools in the fall of 2014 in order to increase understanding of what youth in foster care and group homes undergo. Community support has allowed us to workshop with over 30 youth in care and share the work with test schools. We need your help to make the tour accessible to all youth!

Don’t forget that a donor’s gift may be doubled and the next deadline for the federal matching program is November 30th. If you are considering a gift to the company now is the time! Click here and help us make a difference in our community and transform lives through the power of theatre.

Sneak Peek at International Women’s Week!

Teen truckers, gender therapy, white girl problems from the perspective of a mixed-race girl and Judith Thompson! This March will mark Sarasvati Productions’ 10th Cabaret of Monologues in celebration of International Women’s Week. This year’s theme is Rise Up, which means that stories will focus on young women, the next generation of subversion, new forms of advocacy and ways young women tackle adversity! We are excited to offer a diverse line-up of monologues by Canadian playwrights, performed by a talented local cast. We love presenting this unique event as it gives voice to women of all backgrounds and covers topics from the hilarious to the inspiring. Today, we offer you a sneak peek into some of the pieces we will be featuring as part of our line-up! Keep reading to find out more.

Something’s Not Right by Wren Hookey – Our mothers raised us with the best intentions, but somehow, it’s just not really working out how everyone thought it would. Instead of being strong and confident, we’ve turned out insecure and confused. How many therapy sessions is this going to take?

Teen Trucker by Sara Arenson – Ever since she was young, 19-year old Genevieve knew what she wanted to be. This piece explores her dream career as a long-haul truck driver in the face of social expectation and family struggle.

Hide Away by Kendra Jones – Katie, a 23 year old prostitute, finds herself on the run hiding from local police. She finds a safe place and confides in a friend about the events that ultimately drove her to the streets.

#White Girl Problems by Frances Koncan – A stream–‐of–‐consciousness rant by a Mixed–‐race girl growing up in a largely Caucasian world.

Plus new pieces by the amazing Judith Thompson, teen writers Hannah Burns and Sarah Simpson-Yellowquill, and a special slam poetry performance by Ali Tataryn!

Getting excited? Stay tuned for details on the remaining three pieces! Join our mailing list, “Like” us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter to stay up to date as we announce more information over the coming weeks!

Creating Change

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VOICES Giving Voice reading

Part of our mission is to educate the public at large with respect to significant social issues. Throughout our history, we are particularly proud of the work we have done with Manitoba youth. We continue to develop new works which are relevant, relatable and that spark important dialogue with young members of our society. Earlier this week, we had the opportunity to read the revised version of Giving Voice with several youth at VOICES: Manitoba Youth in Care Network.  We received some fabulous feedback and suggestions on how to get this important work out into the community. This week, these youth and the celebration of the annual We Day event has inspired us to reflect on some of the ways we work with youth in our communities and inspire them to become agents of change.

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Diss

It is our tradition to tour a show every two years to Manitoba high schools. These shows include Ripple Effect, No Offense…, Diss, and our most recent work in progress, Giving Voice. These projects have explored a range of topics relevent to youth including violence in schools, racism, gun violence and how the marginalization of immigrant youth makes them susceptible to gangs. Our latest work tackles the realities of youth who experience life in care. Many of these plays have been performed in Forum Theatre style which is a lively and effective way to look at and counter issues that our community faces today. After the play is performed, scenes are replayed and the audience is able to stop the action and step in with solutions. This provides a chance for those watching to discuss what happens and participate in changing the ending.

Ripple Effect 2008

Ripple Effect

This year, we are excited to be part of The Winnipeg Foundations Youth in Pilanthropy annual conference! YiP is a program designed to introduce local high school students to philanthropy and community development. The program provides hands-on experience that benefits both participating students and local charities. On November 7th, we will be  speaking to a group of youth who have chosen to attend a session called “Art: It’s Not all Drawing”. The session will feature local organization run arts initiatives that encourage people to tap into creative abilities and express themselves through artistic outlets. They will have the opportunity to learn about how different forms of art not only provide a creative release, but also work to support community. We are thrilled to have been invited to speak at this event and hope to inspire many youth who are curious about how theatre can indeed create social change.

Here is to youth creating change!