“Home 2.0” Hits the Road!

Our latest school tour is up and running! After two years of community interviews and storytelling, Home 2.0 hit the road this week to start its Manitoban tour. We’ll be taking the show to high schools in Winnipeg and surrounding areas to share stories of immigration, resettlement, and what it means to start over in a new country.

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“Do you remember your first time on a plane?”

This past week, we opened the show with a public preview at the Graffiti Gallery. The cast got to test-run the show with an audience, getting folks on their feet to help work through the issues presented by the play. One audience member said that the stories felt so familiar. As someone who works with newcomers, she was moved by the common threads between her clients and the characters in the play.

Because Home 2.0 is presented “forum theatre style”, the play shows audiences the worst case scenario for the characters and invites them to explore actions that will lead to a better ending. After the play, audience members were encouraged to swap out with the characters to find a solution together. Audience members stepped into the scenes, offering one student the chance to succeed in sports while another was given help with sponsorship papers. One audience member even stepped into a bully’s shoes to make a newcomer student feel welcome! Home 2.0 is already showing audiences how we can help make a change for the better.

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“Home 2.0” Preview at the Graffiti Gallery

We kicked off the tour on Monday with back-to-back double-show days at Steinbach Regional Secondary School before performing for Seven Oaks Met School and Miles Mac Collegiate.  “The students at our first show were amazing,” shares Director Hope McIntyre, “they stopped the action and jumped in with amazing enthusiasm. In fact, they were competing to get up there.” Want to bring the show to your school? We only have a few dates left before the tour wraps up on December 7 – contact Angelina at touring@sarasvati.ca for more information!

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The cast and stage manager of “Home 2.0”!

Not a student or a teacher? No problem! You still have one more chance to check out Home 2.0 outside of a school – we’ll be at the Millennium Library on Saturday, October 20th at 2PM. While we recommend the show for youth thirteen and up, all ages are welcome! Admission is by donation. For more info, visit our event page!

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OUR HOME & native land: wit and sarcasm thicker than the Indian Act

Who knew that an educational play about the history of the Treaties and how the Canadian government has violated them could be so…funny? And who could write such a play? Jo MacDonald could. And she won last year’s Bake-Off with it!

In case you’re not familiar with it, the Bake-Off is an annual event in FemFest. Playwrights are given just eight hours to “bake” up a scene with three specific “ingredients” (actions or lines) so that they can’t write ahead. The audience is then invited to a reading of these fresh ideas and they get to decide which one has the most potential for a complete play. The winning playwright receives dramaturgical guidance so that they can finish the play and have it read at the following FemFest.

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OUR HOME & native land is about two friends, Niibin and Cheryl, who are leading a workshop called “Understanding the Treaties”. They have their work cut out for them when the self-absorbed Stephanie and the mansplaining George walk in. Neither Stephanie nor George is aware of their privilege, their biases, or their ignorance. When Mrs. Bruneau, warm, friendly, and given to storytelling, comes in, it becomes clear that she does not need the workshop so much as it needs her. She helps Niibin and Cheryl win their reluctant guests over, but you’ll have to come and find out how. The only spoilers that we can give you are that it’s outrageously funny and will make you curious (and angry) about the history of the treaties and how our government has violated them.

In OUR HOME & native land, Jo MacDonald proves herself to be a sharply witty and engaging writer. Recently, her play Mother’s Little Secret was performed to packed houses at the Fringe Festival, directed by our wonderful Indigenous Outreach Coordinator, Marsha Knight. Her play Neechie-Itas was a runner-up in the Native American New Play Festival in Oklahama City. Jo was a big hit at last year’s FemFest and she will be again this year. In fact, her work was also selected to be featured in the FemFest One Night Stand as part of the festival closing night.

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Don’t miss this brand-new play—there will be just one reading at 1:00 pm on Saturday, September 15 at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. You can get your tickets here!

Sound of the Beast: speaking truth to power

In March 2013, Tunisian rapper Ala Yaacoub, also known as Weld El 15, was sentenced to two years in prison for his song Boulicia Kleb (The Police Are Dogs). It was his response to police violence, a cause for anger if ever there was one. Donna-Michelle St. Bernard pays tribute to Weld El 15 in her solo show Sound of the Beast, produced by Theatre Passe Muraille with direction and dramaturgy by Andy McKim and Jivesh Parasram. The piece has continued to evolve since its first performance, so FemFest audiences will get to see the latest version of the piece.

Sound of the Beast is part of Donna-Michelle’s project to write one play inspired by each of the 54 countries in Africa. Yes, that means 54 plays. And yes, she’s an amazing playwright. She’s been nominated for the Governor General’s award. Twice. In Sound of the Beast, Donna-Michelle brings a story from Tunisia to a stage in Canada to remind us that police violence doesn’t just happen far away (or just south of the border). With the passionate power of storytelling, spoken word, and hip-hop, Donna-Michelle calls out the Toronto police for their gun violence, particularly against people of colour.SoundoftheBeast photo by Michael Cooper

Lynn Slotkin’s review states that “Donna-Michelle St. Bernard tells a gripping, compelling story that is happening all over the world. Her stories and their telling are not clichéd into sameness. Each one is perceptively drawn, calmly told, clearly illuminated and will make you suck air for all the right reasons. She is a compelling presence who tells a vital story.” Chris Klippenstein emphasises in his review that Donna-Michelle “get(s) the audience to realize something about themselves” and describes the piece as an “intense, memorable constellation of storytelling.”

Sound of the Beast
There’s a 100% chance that Sound of the Beast will make you feel something. Don’t believe me? There’s only one way to find out. Get your tickets here! You can see it at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film on Thursday, September 20, at 1:00 pm (followed by a talkback), Friday, September 21, at 9:00 pm, or Saturday, September 22, at 7:00 pm. You can also catch Donna-Michelle’s Real Thing lecture on Wednesday, September 19, at 12:30 pm. You won’t be disappointed!

 

“Home 2.0” Comes to Schools This Fall!

“Can you name a time that you’ve had to start all over? New school? New house? New activity? Throughout the course of the show, we’ll be like flies on the wall watching the stories of people who had to start over. What you are about to see is from true stories shared by people about coming to Canada.” – Joker, Home 2.0

Imagine sitting in your school gym and getting to experience music, dance, and visuals from half a dozen different cultural groups played out before your eyes, all threaded together to tell the journey of displaced people arriving to Canada. At the end of the performance, the actors invite you on stage to step in to the shoes of a character and explore solutions to the challenges they faced.

In May, we saw the culmination of the first part of our newcomer community collaboration project, New Beginnings. Now we’re continuing the project with Home 2.0!

Home 2.0 was created especially for youth, focusing on their experiences of resettlement. Young audiences will engage with characters their own age, allowing youth to see themselves and their stories represented onstage. By sharing stories of immigrant and refugee youth who have resettled in Canada, Home 2.0 will foster important dialogue around the challenges of newcomers. For many youth, this might be the first time they see their experiences represented in the arts. For others, it might be the first time they’ve been able to really grasp what it’s like to be forced to leave your home and start again halfway across the world.

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Like our previous school tours, Home 2.0 is performed “forum theatre style”, meaning the audience gets a say in the events onstage. Forum Theatre is a lively and effective way to look at and counter issues that our community faces today by encouraging audiences to take an active role in the show rather than acting as bystanders. The show offers students the chance to watch the “worst case scenario” play out before them – followed by the opportunity to change the ending, offer solutions, or provide support for the characters. By challenging what happens, youth are able to think about how they would act or how they wish they had acted in a similar scenario. Ultimately, the show promotes empathy and compassion, educating students on the experiences of starting over in a new country.

We’ll be touring the show throughout Winnipeg and Manitoba October 15 through to December 7, visiting schools in the community to promote inclusion and understanding. If you’re a teacher looking to bring the show to your students, contact Daphne at associate@sarasvati.ca for more information!

FemFest 2018: Staging Resistance!

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

Bake off 2016

Bake-Off

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

 

One Night Stand

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

 

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

Unstoppable Women in Theatre

International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues: I Am Unstoppable is bursting at the seams with talented writers and creators. Though we’ve long-admired them, we are excited to be working with these artists for the very first time! Get to know them as we do the same in this week’s blog.

I Am Unstoppable created and performed by Joanna Hawkins

Joanna Hawkins is a proud Deaf woman who is strongly involved within the Deaf community. She’s an ambassador to hearing ( non – deaf ) individuals about deaf culture in order to break barriers between their worlds.

Joanna Hawkins headshot 2017Originally from Lodz, Poland, Joanna now resides right her in Winnipeg and we feel lucky to have her. She has a history of working with the Manitoba Cultural Society of the Deaf, as well as performing with 100 Decibels : A Deaf Mime Troupe.

“Being involved with the 100 Decibels troupe, our goal is to create a barrier free world between the Deaf and the hearing (non-deaf), “I Am Unstoppable” is a piece I have been thinking about for a while”, says Joanna.

“I have been rejected to enroll in performing arts at University of Manitoba just because of my deafness. They couldn’t imagine myself acting with a sign language interpreter on the stage. Years later, I landed on the stage as a 100 Decibels actress, including other performances, therefore no one has stopped me from becoming an actress. Having a hearing loss doesn’t mean you need to give up something.”

Saviour Self by Andrea Scott

Andrea Scott is a professional playwright and producer.
“I trained as an actor and still audition but have been transitioning to positions that will allow me to eventually rule the world”, says Andrea.

“‘Saviour Self’ is from a play I wrote called ‘All Most Be Longing’ about the role riots, rebellion, and rage played in forming Toronto starting with the Anti-Greek riots of 1918. the play was developed while I was in the Stratford Playwright Retreat & the Tarragon Workspace program in 2016.

Andrea Scott headshot 2017A friend told me story about how her brothers tried to protect her during the Yonge Street riots of 1992 by ordering her stay home. She chose, instead, to get a front row seat by walking down to the Eaton Centre to watch the chaos. It made me think of how young women are often perceived as invisible when uprisings happen when in reality they are in the thick of the action and, sometimes direct instigators.”

Andrea describes her connection to the piece:
“I grew up in a world where positive images of black females were scarce but my parents always expected me to work towards excellence. Nobody expected anything of me, encouraged my talent, or intelligence in school. In fact, I had a guidance teacher try to get me to drop down to basic levels in English from the advanced levels I was in during my 4 years of high-school. I was told not to bother auditioning for the school play because ‘there were no black roles’, and my favourite high school teacher was surprised to see me go to Graduate school because she always assumed I’d be a housewife (for some bizarre reason).”

“Every person of colour who was a teenager knows how it feels to be watched in a store. Well, what if the perceived greater danger existed outside the doors of the shop rather than inside and embodied by a black girl? And what if she used that small window of time to help herself in a way that escapes the awareness of so many people? ”

See these pieces and so many more created and performed by women on March 10th. Tickets are on sale now!

Stay tuned for features on the rest of our fabulous artists in upcoming blogs!

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.