Welcome to our Summer Students!

It’s been a hectic month for us here at Sarasvàti Productions! We’ve finished up our season with workshops and a world premiere, but we’re already looking ahead to next season with FemFest 2018: Staging Resistance. Thanks to Employment and Skills Development Canada, we’re welcoming two summer students onto the team to help make the festival happen: Anya Steur and Reid Girard!

20180606_083123.jpgAnya Steur is currently an undergraduate classical piano student at the University of Manitoba. She is primarily a pianist and also a singer, composer, dreamer, and nerd. Anya loves theatre, especially the musical variety, and has acting and singing experience in MTYP and school productions. She aspires to specialize in contemporary music and enjoys playing both solo and collaborative works. When she’s not practicing, you might find her with her nose in a book.

“I’m so glad I got a job relating to the performing arts! How lucky am I?” says Anya. “I’m really glad I got the opportunity to participate in something creative instead of destructive. Sarasvàti’s mission to transform society through theatre is exactly my cup of tea. I believe that with a little critical thinking and a lot of compassion, artists can have a powerful effect on our global culture.”

Anya is our Marketing and Community Outreach Assistant for FemFest, helping spread the word about the festival throughout the community. “I’m really excited to help make FemFest happen, especially because it’s becoming more and more about inclusion and intersectionality! Representation of human diversity in art is vital. I’m really glad this year’s program features characters from a few different cultures, including Indigenous characters, who we definitely don’t have enough of in any medium.”

img_0212.jpgJoining Anya for the summer is Reid Girard. Reid is currently attending the University of Manitoba and is planning to finish with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English and Theatre. He has also been an active member of the Black Hole Theatre Company during his time at U of M, performing in three mainstages and working backstage on many shows as well.

“What excites me most about working at Sarasvàti Productions is having the opportunity help an organization that is devoted to stimulating positive change in the community,” says Reid. “I am looking forward to working on FemFest 2018 and getting to meet all the amazing people that make theatre so magical!”

As our Production Assistant, Reid got his start helping us with New Beginnings back in May. “The most interesting part of this job (so far) has been the wide variety of tasks I’ve gotten the opportunity to complete.  Whether it be hanging paintings on a wall, scheduling auditions, or changing sets between shows, this job has kept me busy with new things to try.”


Reid and Anya will be planning our 2018-2019 Season Launch, coming this August! Stay tuned for more details on what this great team has in store!


Our Next Community Collaboration Project!

A team of 9 artists collaborating, 9 performers, 9 dancers, musicians and dozens of community participants! It’s going to be one heck of a show. Over the past two years, we’ve been interviewing community members who are newcomers to Canada, working with numerous newcomer agencies and hearing the stories of dozens of individuals who have experienced resettlement. Now, we’ve compiled their stories into our final show of the 2017-2018 season, New Beginnings!


“New Beginnings” Preview at FemFest 2017

The project incited passionate responses at the preview at FemFest 2017. This was the first step towards realizing this production on stage. Professional theatre artists teamed up with new arrivals in an exchange of stories, music, and dance. Inspired by the input we received, we’ve been workshopping the script since September and continuing to add stories from newcomers of all ages and backgrounds.

new beggining.jpgWe are excited to finally bring the collaboration to the stage later this spring! Witness the coming together of a diverse range of artists, community members, recent newcomers and established immigrants. Through the use of dance, music, visual art and storytelling, we will come together to explore the themes of displacement and resettlement.

Before the performance, you can also check out our lobby art installation featuring paintings, photography, and film by local refugee artists. We’ll also be offering an ASL-interpreted performance, translation services, and child-minding to make the show as accessible as possible. Following the performance, we’ll be hosting regular conversation circles to foster dialogue about the stories depicted and welcome people to offer their own stories in return.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we feature the amazing artists participating!

27907465_1675043125940329_5390131185813551337_o.jpgThis unique production will also run in the same space as One Trunk Theatre’s new show Boundary Avenue: a documentary-style play co-created by Liam Zarrillo, Andraea Sartison, and Caroline Wintoniw. The show looks at the town of Emerson and the influx of asylum seekers who have crossed into Manitoba over the past year. One Trunk Theatre is excited to share their research and to support those who lent their stories for the development of the play by donating back the proceeds from this production. There will be special opportunities to see both productions – check out Brown Paper Tickets for package deals!

You can catch the world premiere of New Beginnings May 22-27 at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (at the University of Winnipeg). For more details and to purchase your tickets, click here!

Looking Back on IWW18

Another International Women’s Week has come and gone! We are so grateful to everyone who helped make our Cabaret of Monologues such a success: whether you supported our “Buy a Butterfly” campaign, hosted a performance, attended the show, or were a part of the Cabaret itself: thank you all so much! With your support, we are truly unstoppable.


Our lovely wall of butterfly donations!

Here are some of the great reactions we’ve had to this year’s lineup. You can also check out our full list of video testimonials!

“This is the first time I’ve been to one of [Sarasvati’s] productions and I thought it was just awesome. Everything came together seamlessly from one piece to the next and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing each and every one of the performers. I thought it was very moving and representative of non-traditional female experiences. Thank you very much for producing such a wonderful event!” – Rebecca Cramer, Audience Member

Thank you Sarasvati Productions, Hope McIntyre, Rachel Smith, and Sandy for the opportunity to perform in tonight’s show. It was an amazing experience with amazing women!– Cynthia Fortlage, Writer/Performer, I Got 99 Problems (My Penis is Just One)

What a special day I will forever cherish and remember… Thank you to the amazing cast and crew! You are truly unstoppable! And a big THANK you to A.B. Norris – you are absolutely beautiful! Thank you for the opportunity to share this story. It wasn’t an easy journey on some days but your support and love made me a stronger person and better artist throughout this process.” – Monika Thurn Und Taxis, Performer, I’ve Never Been Very Good at Drawing Hearts (But I Keep Trying)

It was awesome. It’s so great to hear people go out on the stage and show us something that they’ve created and be vulnerable… I think that is so amazing and should be celebrated!– Pamela Wolk, Audience Member


The cast getting ready backstage!

Thanks to Althea Cunningham for writing such a wonderful piece… Thanks to Sarasvati Productions for taking me on, for the umpteenth time. I look forward to more productions with y’all. Thanks for the company of wonderfully talented women I shared the stage with – may we work together again. Thanks to the crew for your level-headedness, your encouragement, and your guidance throughout the performances – and car rides.Lorraine James, Performer, Sweet an Nice

So honoured to have my work out there and being performed in other cities. What a life…what a life…– Althea Cunningham, Playwright, Sweet an Nice

Hope and Anjali on Global

Anjali and Hope getting ready for their Global TV Interview

I am so full of all the wonderful ideas, writing and acting I’ve heard this afternoon! I just feel unstoppable. Sarasvati is so wonderful for providing the encouragement and the space for people to say all these things that would be left silent for so much longer. Thank you for giving us your voices- you’re wonderful!” – Beverly Grace, Audience Member

It was amazing – there were so many great performances and so much that was put into these productions. Women were putting their heart and soul into their performances to advance equality, diversity, and just be champions for women’s rights!” Rochelle Squires, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women


Lounging in the green room! (Photo: Rachel Smith)

A special thank-you to our generous donors like the Manitoba Status of Women and the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg as well as Arts AccessAbility Network Manitoba for supplying our very first ASL Interpreters! Thanks to their support, we were able to provide access to those who would not otherwise have been able to attend.

Finally, thank you to all the playwrights and performers for sharing your talent with us. We could not have asked for a better team to represent the incredible diversity of female experiences. Thank you to everyone who made this year’s Cabaret of Monologues such a success!

Unstoppable Women in Theatre

Happy International Women’s Day! Since starting our International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues in 2003, we’ve had the pleasure of showcasing over a hundred playwrights from all across Canada. Again in 2018 we’re taking to the stage to present a diverse range of stories from women of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, and abilities.

We asked the performers in this year’s Cabaret a couple of questions to get to know them better. Check out their answers!

  1. How would you describe yourself to a stranger?

Cynthia Fortlage, I Got 99 Problems, My Penis is Just One: A women, who happens to be Transgender.

Anjali Sandhu, Flight 182: My mother taught me not to talk to strangers, or take candy from them…but I’d be lying if I said I’d never taken candy from a stranger, honey.

Joanna Hawkins, I am Unstoppable: A proud Deaf woman who is strongly involved within the Deaf community, as well as an ambassador to hearing (non-deaf) individuals about deaf culture to break barriers between their worlds.

Lorraine James, Sweet an Nice: I’m an extroverted introvert, or an introverted extrovert.

Reena Jolly, Saviour Self: I would start by saying that I have a very interesting sense of style. I can go from looking homeless one day to looking like a lady the next day. I would also say that I am a learner and always want to be improving or learning more about things.

Kristy Janvier, ObScene: Quietly observing the unfolding events of life on Earth.

Cheryl Soluk, I am a Warrior: I am a strong advocate for things I believe in, I am mindful of things around me and great at reading people. I love puns & animals, especially cats, owls, dogs and cows. I am always told I should do comedy. I love belly laughs!

2. What are some of your favourite hobbies?

Monika Thurn Und Taxis, I’ve Never Been Very Good at Drawing Hearts (But I Keep Trying): I love hiking and exploring nature. My Instagram profile is filled with some great nature photography from Manitoba. I love to encourage people to get out into nature and explore all that it has to offer.

Anna Binder, Perfect Pie: In my free time I love to tell audio-visual stories through the colloquial medium of “AMV”. I’ve won a few video contests for this work, as well as a few costume contests at the same venues. I’m also involved with local medieval battle recreationist groups.

Ady Kay, Captain of My Ship: I do all sorts of things like performance, singing, dancing, clown, painting, poetry, etc. I love all of it and it sometimes gets frustrating deciding which one I need to prioritize.

Kristy: I’ve studied and taught yoga since 2009. Current hobbies are herbalism local to the Boreal Forest, astrology, and tarot.

3. What excites you about performing this piece?

Monika: The theme of the eclipse and the symbolism is a very close theme to my personal life. I believe deeply in the reflection of our nature in the sky and an eclipse is an important moment that asks us to be present with the darkness around us and shine our inner light.

Anjali: My piece is inspired by a major event in Canadian history that affected all Canadians, but especially the Indo-Canadian community. As an Indo-Canadian, I was able to see myself in the situation that the protagonist of my piece is in.

Lorraine: Through this piece, I’m gaining insight on what it must’ve been like for my parents to uproot their lives to come here, to realize that there are people out there who feel threatened by immigrants and yet have no idea about the real struggles.

Anna: Disabled characters are often written as static people that belong more on cardboard cut-outs than something three-dimensional and real. The piece in unashamed by honesty, and I find it especially refreshing because my character is allowed to exist as her own person.

Joanna: I was rejected from enrolling in performing arts at the University of Manitoba just because of my deafness. Years later, I landed on the stage as a 100 Decibels performer; therefore no one has stopped me from becoming an actress. Having a hearing loss doesn’t mean you need to give up something.

Ady: I am excited about this piece because not only does it speak to a matter that I care about very much, it also is beautifully described through poetry. And with poetry, so much is possible as a physical performer.

Reena: It is such a wonderful monologue it’s impossible not to be excited. I don’t feel like I’m acting during this piece because the character is so much like me: a bright, strong willed, young, girl of colour.

Cheryl: I lost my Mom in 2013. She was my best friend and biggest cheerleader. Even though she wasn’t physically with me anymore, I still spoke to her and shared my day with her, especially the good news.  Now when I think of her, it is like a warm hug, a feeling that fills my heart and I know that she is still my cheerleader who is always in my corner.

Cynthia: The piece is about my life so very connected to the story being told. I created this piece to share some insight as a transgender woman, and share the message of acceptance without understanding. I am a much stronger woman than I ever was as a man – I am unstoppable!

Screenshot-2018-3-7 Sarasvàti Productions ( sarasvati_wpg) • Instagram photos and videos

You can catch all ten of these inspiring performers on Saturday, March 10th. Don’t miss out – get your tickets today!

Taking our Show on the Road!

International Women’s Week is only a week away! As part of our annual event, we’re taking our Cabaret of Monologues out into the community, touring a number of different venues so everyone gets the chance to see these amazing artists at work. Here are the organizations we’ll be touring:

IWW Community TourSunday, March 4thUkrainian Labour Temple (public)

Celebrating its 100th year, The Association of United Ukrainian Canadians is a progressive organization with strong and durable roots in the people and history of Canada. The AUUC is a national cultural-educational non-profit organization established for Ukrainians in Canada, sponsoring such cultural activities as dance groups, orchestras, choirs and children’s activities.

2018-03-05 Cabaret of Monologues by Sarasvàti Productions-Womyn's Centre

Monday, March 5thUniversity of Manitoba Womyn’s Centre (public)

The Womyn’s Centre is a feminist collective on campus as well as a safe space to work, share and learn together. The Centre advocates on behalf of womyn of the university and offers a wide range of services to the collective members, university students, and the outside community.

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Reena Jolly, reading up on ‘Saviour Self’

Tuesday, March 6th – North End Women’s Centre (public)

The North End Women’s Centre has been serving women and their families for since 1984. Their purpose is to provide a friendly atmosphere where women can receive the understanding, support, and resources they need to make informed choices about their lives.  The centre offers a wide range of services including counselling, outreach, employment programs, and transitional housing.

Wednesday, March 7th – Mount Carmel Clinic

Mount Carmel Clinic is a non-profit community health centre committed to helping families live healthier lives by addressing the root of poor health. Founded on the belief that everyone has the right to accessible health care, Mount Carmel Clinic goes the extra mile to help clients connect with the services they need—in their homes, workplaces and neighbourhood.

WTSC-IWWposterWednesday, March 7thWomen-Trans Spectrum Centre (public)

The Women-Trans Spectrum Centre is an accessible and inclusive resource centre for women and trans students on the University of Winnipeg campus. The centre is a great space to hang out, study, and build community as well as organizing events that examine and challenge women and trans oppression.

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Cheryl Soluk rehearsing “I am a Warrior”

Thursday, March 8th – St. Aidan’s Christian School

St. Aidan’s School Aberdeen Campus is a Grade 6-10 school, primarily focused on newcomer and aboriginal students. Their newcomer students come from a wide range of nations, such as Eritrea, Ethiopia, Burundi, Rwanda, Congo, Columbia, Cree, Tanzania, Metis, Kaska, Canada, and Ojibway.

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Lorraine James, looking over lines for ‘Sweet an Nice’

Friday, March 9th – Interlake Women’s Resource Centre (public)

IWRC is a grassroots, community-based resource centre dedicated towards improving the quality of life for women, children, families, and the communities in which they reside. The Centre provides services and programs for women and their children living in or having left domestic violence situations, in order to help women make informed choices for themselves and their children.

Full cast at dress rehearsal

If you can’t make it to the shows on March 10th, consider attending one of our community performances instead! (Please note: the shows at Mount Carmel and St Aidan’s are closed to the public.) The one and only time to view the full line-up of our Cabaret of Monologues is Saturday, March 10th. Get your tickets today!

One Night Stand Returns!

Feature by Daphne Finlayson

Sarasvàti Productions is thrilled to announce that we’re bringing back the One Night Stand series for another year! After a nine-year hiatus, the series returned in 2017 to showcase established writers, playwriting students, and upcoming Fringe productions. The series was produced by Tatiana Carnevale, who also brought One Night Stand to FemFest 2017.

The purpose of the series is to provide emerging and established playwrights with audience feedback on new material or works-in-progress. The evening will feature a line-up of short scenes read by a team of local actors. For many, this will be the first time their work is performed and offers the chance for an outsider’s perspective on a new script.

Daphne Finlayson 2017

Daphne Finlayson

In addition to being the new associate producer here at Sarasvati, I’m also coordinating and directing this year’s One Night Stand series. As for my experience, I’m a recent graduate of the University of Manitoba’s theatre program with a focus on directing. I’ve directed a number of shows in the past, including Stewart Lemoine’s Pith! for the Black Hole Theatre’s 2017-2018 mainstage season as well as shorter one-acts. My play, The Committee, also placed third in this year’s Winnipeg Fringe Festival New Play Contest.

I’m so excited to be working on this series. In the past I’ve helped friends workshop their plays and it’s always so rewarding to see the final product after months of rewrites and tweaking. Anything I can do to help a writer see their work realized on stage for the first time is always such an amazing experience.

Submissions can be anything: a scene that’s giving a writer some trouble, wanting to hear how their dialogue sounds in performance, or seeing how an audience responds to a new short play. The goal for this year’s series is to place a greater focus on serving the playwright’s needs. I’d like to keep the readings simple so the focus stays on what’s on the page, making sure the playwrights get to hear the audience’s response to their work. It’s easy with staged readings to want to turn it into a full-fledged performance, but that takes the focus off the script by making it more about the audience than the playwright.

It’s important to have a series like this to get audiences excited for what’s coming next from new and established talent. We have so many talented writers in this city who need an outlet to showcase their work. One of the biggest challenges with a script is that feeling of ‘what now’: how do I turn this from an idea I had into an actual performance? This series is part of that first step by helping playwrights learn how an outsider – like a director or an actor – has interpreted their work.

Come be a part of this amazing series dedicated to showcasing the future of Winnipeg theatre. The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, February 21st at midnight, emailed to associate@sarasvati.ca. See the submission notice below for guidelines!


One Night Stand Call for Submission Feb 2_18.jpg

Expanding Our Work in the Community

We need to be doing more to honour our responsibility to reconciliation. This was the commitment when Sarasvàti Productions signed on to the Winnipeg Indigenous Accord and put in to action specific goals. Thus far we have recruited better Indigenous representation on our Board, established an Indigenous Advisory Committee, and hired the amazing Elissa Kixen as Indigenous Community Outreach Coordinator. She will be exploring better ways to serve, work with and build partnerships.

A first step this past week was bringing back our workshop series with Children of the Earth High School! We began the series in 2017 to provide students with information about the world of theatre since the school does not currently offer a drama program. This ten-week series gives North End youth the opportunity to learn about acting, writing, and directing for the stage. Students are given the opportunity to meet and speak with professionals who work in the arts and build connections for the future. The series will also take students to sit in on rehearsals, tour Winnipeg theatres, and see live performances!

The workshops run Mondays from 3:45pm-5:45pm at Children of the Earth High School, Room 103. All North End youth (ages 14-18) are welcome to attend, free of charge!

Joshua Ranville

Joshua Ranville

Facilitating the workshops are familiar faces Joshua Ranville and Marsha Knight, plus a roster of amazing guest artists. Ranville is an actor/musician from Winnipeg with twenty years’ experience in theatre and film. He has also been an art mentor to children for over ten years. Ranville has quite the history with Sarasvàti, having appeared in our FemFest 2017 Bake-Off, Breaking Through, and Eden. He has also worked with MTYP on the one-man show, Routes, as well as instructing at Rainbow Stage’s Camp Rainbow this past summer.



Marsha Knight

Marsha Knight

Knight has been involved in theatre for over twenty years, starting with Ian Ross’ Governor General award-winning drama fareWel (PTE). She has worked on several past productions with Sarasvàti, including consulting on Two Indians at FemFest 2017 and performing in Breaking Through and Eden. She has also performed with a number of local companies, including Time’s Fancy: The War of King Henry V and Joan of Arc (Sixth Planet Productions); Rez Sisters (PTE, Theatre Northwest, Magnus Theatre); Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun (Theatre Northwest); Antony & Cleopatra (Shakespeare in the Ruins); and Crees in the Caribbean  (Magnus Theatre).


Elissa Kixen 2018

Elissa Kixen

Our coordinator Elissa Kixen is an Anishinaabe Ikwe (woman) comedian and producer of WOKE Comedy Hour. She has been performing for twenty years and has been teaching for seventeen. Her passion is to bring Indigenous issues to the forefront of her comedy.

We have several other initiatives in the works and will continue to gather input in the coming months.