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.


 

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.


 

New Year, Same Us

It is officially a new year AND a new decade! Happy New Year and welcome to 2020!

2019 has come and gone which means the second half of our 19/20 season is underway. We are so excited to tell you a little bit about what we have in store for all of you in the upcoming months…


IMG_5259International Women’s Week 2020 Cabaret of Monologues: Changes

Have you heard? Our annual Cabaret of Monologues is happening from March 2-8, 2020! We have been doing our best to update you on our performers and playwrights, if you’ve missed any of our past blogs, you can meet some of this year’s artists HERE and HERE.

This year we have monologues but also music, dance, mime, and comedy!

Stay tuned for our tour schedule, but in the meantime, tickets are now available for our public performance on Saturday, March 7, 2020 at 4pm and 8pm. Get your tickets HERE!


Workshops$25(1).jpg

As always, we have a ton of workshops in the works for you for 2020. Have you registered for our Movement for Actors Workshop with Ali Robson? This workshop will take place on January 19th, 2020 for $25. If you want more info, click HERE, if you want to register email liz@sarasvati.ca

It doesn’t end there! Coming soon, we will be hosting workshops on the following topics…

Accessibility in Theatre Panel, April 4th, 2020

Diversity Panel, February 16th, 2020

Fringe Production 101, May 16th, 2020

And more!


Jo MacDonald

Jo MacDonald

Reconciliation Through Theatre

We completed our Seven Visions workshops in 2019, now comes the process of creating one big final production! We are so excited to be working with Playwright Jo MacDonald and Director Tracey Nepinak to create our final performance piece for May 2020!

The performance, entitle Songide’ewin (Courage), will take place at The Forks and feature art created by youth during our workshops. We are so excited to share the voices of Winnipeg’s youth and tell a story of reconciliation in a time that gravely needs it.

More on the reconciliation project HERE!


As we move in to the fall of 2020, we will actually be launching our 20th season in Winnipeg!! Yep, we’ve been creating transformative theatre for two decades. This anniversary season will see the transition to a new Artistic Director, new community-building processes, and some of our usual offerings.


School Tour

DSC_0398Every second year we hit the road with an interactive performance, using Forum Theatre principles. It is an amazing way to engage youth in a discussion about how to be active participants in their community. This year’s touring show will be built from the material gathered as part of our Reconciliation Through Theatre project. Stay tuned for full details.


FemFest 2020opening

And of course, 2020 will play host to our 18th annual FemFest! 18 years of transformative feminist theatre AND counting! As always, the festival won’t happen until September, but the work starts now as we begin to read scripts and performance pieces and choose our line-up for the 2020 festival.


Thank you all for making 2019 such a fantastic year, here’s to 2020 and all of the exciting new theatre to come!


 

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

LaurenMarshall_photobyPatrickRabago2

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!


WorkshopsFemFest2019_WorkshopDSC04910.jpg

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!


Picture3Seven Visions

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!


FemFestFemFest2019_StanleyDSC01572.jpg

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!


 

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.


 

Reconciliation: It’s Not Scary!

Nope, these aren’t Halloween masks. They’re the creation of youth from Knowles Centre, just one example of product from our The Art of Reconciliation workshops!

Reconciliation through theatre is not a one-day job. Since April, our team has joined community organizations to facilitate workshops with youth in the name of Reconciliation and completed the final workshop on October 24, 2019. The amazing team behind these innovate workshops is comprised of Nova Courchene- Project Coordinator, Marsha Knight- Indigenous Outreach Coordinator, and Darla Contois- Workshop Facilitator. Most workshops were also facilitated by various guest Indigenous artists.

DSC_0475We were also happy to host a fundraiser event on October 23, 2019. The fundraiser was a huge success, with a delicious indigenous 1491 meal prepared by Steven Watson and special guest artist KC Adams who spoke beautifully on her experience as an Indigenous artist. The fundraiser helped support Sarasvàti’s transformative theatre work.

We asked Nova Courchene to comment on Reconciliation Through Theatre as we wrap the first phase of the project, she spoke passionately on the subject…Nova Courchene Headshot

“It’s been an emotional, but amazing experience to work with youth who have experienced so much in their lives as Indigenous youth. The youth we had the privilege to work with and get to know on a very personal level shared their experiences and how they view reconciliation, how racism has affected their experiences, and stories about their everyday lives.”

Each workshop offered something unique – whether it be painting, drawing, rapping or acting. The workshops offered a creative outlet that allowed the youth to thrive and demonstrate their talents as young artists.

“We’ve met such talented and creative young emerging artists. From charismatic budding actors who stole the show, to extremely talented visual artists including comic story tellers, to gifted painters, sketchers, costume designers, and various other visual arts.”

Now that the workshops have concluded, phase two of the project begins. All of the art and stories collected throughout the workshop process will be compiled by our team. We will welcome playwrights Jo MacDonald and other artists as we work towards finding the most exciting way to turn the work in to a performance in May 2020 at The Forks. However, the work with the community doesn’t end there!

DSC_0395The preparation has begun for the next stages and we are currently in search of established and emerging Indigenous talent as set designer, costume designer, lighting designer and other production team members.

It is important to us to maintain the relationship with the community throughout this entire project. This is why we are on the lookout for Indigenous community members who would like to be involved with the second phase of this project. If you or someone you know has experience in production please send us an email at info@sarasvati.ca or feel free to give us a call at (204) 586-2236!

Stay tuned for more information on Reconciliation Through Theatre and the final performance in 2020!

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Coming Up Next…

With the glitter swept off the stage, the Bake-Off winner crowned and the touring companies headed home; FemFest 2019 has come and gone. Now comes the question, what’s next for Sarasvàti Productions?


MARCH MONOLOGUES

As always our annual International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues will take place this upcoming March. IWW Cabaret of Monologues is a touring production that features monologues and performance pieces by various women on various subjects. Be sure to stay tuned for more information on the Cabaret!32368407097_56886e8a14_z


RECONCILIATION

Another exciting project and our current main focus of the season, is on Reconciliation Through Theatre.

Over the past few months, Sarasvàti Productions has been holding a series of workshops at 7 different youth organizations, in the spirit of art and reconciliation. Organizations worked with so far include, Wahbung, Children of the Earth High School, Ndinawe, and DSC09386IDLII. In the next month we will also work with youth at Marymound, Knowles Centre and Manitoba Youth Centre. Youth are creating amazing art work that expresses what reconciliation means to them. All of the artwork and stories shared will be compiled into a final performance at The Forks, May 2020. Reconciliation is the restoration of friendly relations. It is a simple concept, but challenging to achieve when much reparation needs to be done. As a true community collaboration, the final performance will come directly from participants working alongside professional artists.

In support of this final event, we will be hosting a fundraiser called The Art of Reconciliation!

68928970_10157632839367533_3029259069731897344_nOn October 23rd, you are invited to join us at Crossways in Common (222 Furby Street) for a special dinner with a 1491 menu, a cash wine bar and special award-winning multi-media artist KC Adams. All proceeds will go towards the funding of our 2020 event. The youth and community members have worked so hard to create moving and captivating art work, from paintings, to sewing and written words of wisdom and hope. Help us open up the conversation to as wide an audience as possible!

The results and lessons learned from the project will also have a long-term impact with changes to Sarasvàti’s practices moving forward. We are so grateful to be working within our community and hearing the stories of those who come out to our workshops.

For more information on The Art of Reconciliation, visit our website HERE.65204148_10157491192852533_8197606934581346304_n


WORKSHOPS

Finally we are preparing this year’s workshop series for artists. We had full to capacity sessions at FemFest including a Pop Art Performance workshop and playwriting masterclass. There will be plenty more opportunities for professional development. Stay tuned for the full calendar and in the meantime to whet your appetite join our Artistic Director, Hope McIntyre, for Creating the Space For Empathy, Risk & Growth In Theatre Training. She and Shannon Vickers with moderator Krista Jackson will gather for a sharing circle about how we can begin to create change in theatre school training. Hope and Shannon recently attended the Got Your Back Canada National Educators conference that identified issues in theatre training and will be sharing key ideas from this national discussion as well as possible new approaches. October 7, 2019 at 7pm at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (University of Winnipeg – 400 Colony St).