Behind the Scenes with Breaking Through

With less than two weeks until Opening Night, the cast of Breaking Through are delving deep in to their characters who are born out of so many Winnipegger’s stories. For this week’s blog we visited the actors in action for a behind the scenes look into Breaking Through.

Harry Nelken as "Joe" in Breaking Through

Joe (Harry Nelken)

Harry Nelken plays Joe, a sometimes prickly, sometimes charming mental health centre resident with the story of a lifetime.

“What excites me about Joe: he’s a fighter, he’s compassionate, he thinks of others, he nurtures, he’s loving, and a kidder”, says Harry, “most of all, he accepts who he is and his lot in life.”

 

Richie Diggs plays an array of different characters as the Male Ensemble in Breaking Through.

Richie Diggs as "Absame" in Breaking Through

A fateful encounter at a bus stop between Absame (Richie Diggs) and Stef (Elena Anciro)

“Everyone needs a healthy mind, but anyone can get a sick mind.” My character says this in the play, thereby distilling the entire play to that simple comprehension, says Richie. “It is a key point to note, not just because one’s own self may sometimes be confronted with the challenges of living with a mental illness, but that when we encounter others battling these health challenges, that understanding, and support will be our participation, rather than stigma, or exclusion, or fear.”

Elena Ancrio as "Stef" in Breaking Through

Joe (Harry Nelken) and Stef (Elena Anciro); Joe fulfills duty as the unofficial ‘welcome committee’ of the mental health centre.

“What I love about Stef is that she is strong and resilient, that even when she is struggling, she has a quick wit and the instinct to help others”, says Elena Anciro. “The journey she goes on during the play has a really important message for all of us. I think whenever you are tasked with playing a character that is based on a real person or is experiencing something very specific (in this case, anxiety and OCD), it’s hard not to feel nervous about “getting it right.” It’s been amazing to work with Hope and Cairn’s script and to explore the text / subject matter with the cast. There’s been a very supportive and ‘safe space’ vibe to our rehearsals, which has really helped me feel relaxed about finding Stef and telling her story.”

 

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Val (Spenser Payne) saves face!

Spenser Payne plays Val. “I think Val’s story is a really great story to witness, says Spenser.  “It’s hard to live up to certain beauty standards in our world, and doing my research on this character, really realized how common it is for women, and men to deal with an eating disorder. It happens to anyone, doesn’t matter your size, or gender. There is massive pressure from our social media world to look a certain way, or act a certain way, and I think seeing Val struggle with This concept will really resonate with audiences.”

 

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KoKo (Josh Ranville) is visited by spirit guide (Marsha Knight)

“I play different family members to more than one character so I am in relationship with more than one other person who has mental health concerns”, says Marsha Knight, who plays the Female Ensemble.

 

“Not only am I looking at the nuances for each character”, says Marsha, “I am also looking at the relationship. Those are areas that every actor addresses – characteristics, a uniqueness, the dynamic. This time around, there is a heightened awareness when it comes to the relationship part.”

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Molly (Dorothy Carroll) stirs things up at the mental health centre.

 

“Molly is so intensely dynamic”, says Dorothy Carroll. “We see her in her highest and lowest moments, which has made it a real challenging journey. Finding a way “in” to someone struggling as Molly does, and discovering the “whys” has been most enlightening.”

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Dr. Morgan (Richie Diggs) and KoKo (Josh Ranville

“KoKo is a voice of wisdom in the play”, says Josh Ranville. “There are beautiful painful moments of hopelessness at the start of the play but I also get to climb out of the muck. KoKo is a light beacon for the other characters to accept themselves for who they are. What a journey I get to go on every night we perform.”

Breaking Through runs May 23-28 at the Asper Centre for Theatre an Film. To see a full list of showtimes and to book tickets visit sarasvati.ca.

Photos by Janet Shum.

Breaking Through HarryNelken_ElenaAnciro_JoshRanville_SpenserPayne_DorothyCarroll

L to R: Joe (Harry Nelken) Stef (Elena Anciro) KoKo (Josh Ranville) Val (Spenser Payne) and Molly (Dorothy Carroll)

 

 

Fefu and Her Friends: Final Two Talents!

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Have you got your tickets to the Winnipeg premiere of Fefu and Her Friends yet? Better hurry! This compelling story will come to life in just over one month and tickets are selling fast. Written in 1977 by Cuban American playwright Maria Irene Fornes, Fefu and Her Friends is recognized as a feminist piece for its use of an all-female cast, central ideas of gender roles, its bold deviation from conventional theatre and for its unique staging. It is a theatrical experience for women and men alike! On today’s blog, we are pleased to feature the final two members of our all-female cast. Tracey Nepinak will play the role of Emma and stage veteran Megan McArton will lead the cast as the one-and-only Fefu! Look familiar? You may recognize both these woman from the world premiere of Jail Baby last spring! Sarasvàti Productions is incredibly pleased to have them on board once again. Keep reading to find out more.

Tracey Nepinak - HeadshotTracey Nepinak has appeared in: Good People, The History of Manitoba from the Beginning of Time to the Present in 45 Minutes (RMTC); Jail Baby (Sarasvàti); Ernestine Shuswap Gets her Trout (Firehall Arts); The Moving Gallery: Beyond Reconciliation (Urban Indigenous Theatre); Romeo & Juliet, Silverwing, The Happy Prince (MTYP); The Rez Sisters, Great Expectations, fareWel (PTE); The Sleeping Land (Globe); Cruel & Unusual Punishment (Theatre Projects); The Crisis in Oka,Manitoba (As the Bannock Burns).

 

Megan McArton - Headshot

Megan McArton is delighted to be working on another Sarasvàti production. Her experience last year in Jail Baby was enjoyable and enriching. She has just finished performing in Harvest at PTE and is looking forward to summer.

These two local actors are keeping busy! Tracey can currently be seen in RMTC’s Good People and Megan closes PTE’s Harvest this weekend. Dying to know more? Keep reading to get the inside scoop and find out what these stars would take  with them if they were stranded on a desert island.

 

Where would you love to travel?

TRACEY: Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.
MEGAN: Australia and New Zealand.

What would you do if you won a million dollars?

TRACEY: Get off the grid.
MEGAN: Share with others.

If you were on an island and could only bring 3 things, what would they be?

TRACEY: Cigarettes, matches, chocolate covered almonds.
MEGAN: 2 friends and a box of books.

Fefu and Her Friends will run from May 22nd-June 1st inside the beautiful Ralph Connor House (54 West Gate). With only 60 seats per performance, there is no better time to book your tickets then right now. Our print-at-home ticket option makes the process incredibly simple! Did we mention you can also choose to have them mailed straight to your door? And don’t forget Mother’s Day is just around the corner on May 11th! Give the gift of live theatre to that special woman in your life. In fact, take her out for a night on the town! Grab a bite to eat, stroll down the beautiful streets of West Broadway, admire the old character homes and then catch Fefu and Her Friends! We guarantee it’ll be her most memorable gift yet.

 “I had never seen intelligence and intuition, history and character, environmental and realistic theater, narrative and experimental techniques combined in such an extraordinary way.” -Oskar Eustes

 

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.

Cabaret of Monologues: 10 Young Women Rise Up!

Teen truckers, therapy sessions, beauty pageants, and literary obsessions! Find out what 10 young women have to say about the state of the world. Next week, we will be producing and taking to the community our Cabaret of Monologues event in celebration of International Women’s Week. The evening will offer a diverse line-up of monologues by Canadian playwrights and will be performed by a talented local cast. We are pleased to have these 10 young, up-and-coming women on board! Keep reading to find out more about our cast and about how you can catch these hilarious and inspiring performances.

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Cast:

Kaeleigh Ayre is thrilled to be working for Sarasvàti and to be bringing Kendra Jones’ words to life again, after being a part of FemFest in the fall. After taking a much needed break following Lion in the Streets at the Black Hole Theatre, Kaeleigh is looking forward to what 2014 will bring.

Shae Burstow is an aspiring actor and theatre student at the University of Winnipeg. This is her first appearance with Sarasvàti Productions and she is thrilled to be a part of this year’s cabaret of monologues. She is set to appear as Isabella and Win in the U of W’s upcoming production of Top Girls.

Victoria Hill is 23 years old, and is currently pursuing a double major in Theatre and Politics at the University of Winnipeg. Victoria has not only managed to put herself through school, while working, and doing theatre and film projects but she also enjoys volunteering in her community, and feels that love and compassion are so valuable in this life.

Andrea Houssin is very excited to be joining Sarasvàti Productions in celebrating International Women’s Week. Recently returned from Vancouver, Andrea made her hometown debut in Ginny Collins’ play Good Intentions at Winnipeg Jewish Theatre this season. Coming up: Waiting for the Parade at Western Canada Theatre.

Ashley Kowalchuk is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg’s Theatre and Film programme. Her latest feminist theatre foray was during ChurchillFest in 2010 with an appearance in Skyline Theatre’s Owners.

Hailley Rhoda is a recent graduate of the University of Winnipeg’s Theatre and Film Department. She has worked with Sarasvàti Productions several times in the past, and is happy to be back on such a fun project.

Shanley Spence is a 21 year old Cree and Ojibwa woman who was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba originally from Mathias Colomb Cree Nation on her mother’s side and Lake St. Martin First Nation on her father’s. She is a student at the University of Winnipeg, working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre and International Development.

Ali Tataryn is an Actor, Performance Artist, and a Founder of Frame Arts Warehouse. Ali works as an actor for film and television and has been included in such projects as CBC’s Mr. Hockey and Less Than Kind. Ali graduated from Red River College Applied Counseling Skills Program with Honours in 2006 and the Academy of Acting in 2007.

Brittany Thiessen is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg’s Acting Honours Program. She was last seen in The Samovar at this year’s Master Playwright Festival. Acquetoré: Swan Doll and Harold and Vivian Entertain Guests mark her most recent credits with Sarasvàti.

Samantha Walters is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg’s Acting Honours program and of Canada’s National Voice Intensive. She was last seen playing the role of Irina in Three Sisters (Chekhovfest 2014). Samantha is currently working as the Associate Producer for Sarasvàti Productions.

Don’t miss these 10 women rock the stage on March 7th and 8th at 8:00pm at the Colin Jackson Studio Theatre (at Prarie Theatre Exchange, 3rd Floor Portage Place)! This popular event has sold out in the past so we highly recommend you purchase and/or reserve your tickets NOW to avoid disappointment. Tickets are just $10 and can be purchased online by clicking here. To make a reservation or to purchase tickets from our office, please give us a call at 204-586-2236! Our typical office hours are Monday to Friday from 9am-3pm.

How will you be celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD)? Share your celebrations with us on Facebook and Twitter!

SYTYCA: Less Then One Week Away!

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After months of planning, preparing, and patiently waiting, our 3rd annual So You Think You Can Act is finally here! On February 19th, less than a week away, seven local celebrities will rock the stage at the Gas Station Arts Centre but only one will take home the trophy prize. Have you got your tickets yet? Don’t worry, there’s still time! Keep reading for more details on the event, how to purchase tickets, and for details on our amazing raffle prizes!

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For those of you who are not familiar with the event, So You Think You Can Act will feature seven local celebrities, famous for things other than theatre, testing out their acting chops on stage in front of a panel of judges and an audience. Each celebrity will be paired with a local actor to perform a scene and gets one rehearsal with our amazing director Cairn Moore. The night of the event our panel of judges will provide hilarious commentary in the style of many reality-television competition shows. The best part of it all? YOU get to vote for the winner of the trophy prize (and bragging rights of course)!

SYTYCA 2012 _Winner

SYTYCA 2012 Winner Ace Burpee with Scene Partner Jane Burpee

We are thrilled to have some of Winnipeg’s biggest names in this year’s event. Our celebrities include: Alison Gillmor (Winnipeg Free Press and CBC Radio), Jim Ingebrigtsen (radio/tv producer and host), Obby Khan (former Winnipeg Blue Bomber), Eva Kovacs (Global), Kris Laudien (CTV), Big Daddy Tazz (comedian), and Troy Westwood (former Winnipeg Blue Bomber). We are also extremely pleased to have Ace Burpee of Virgin Radio 103.1 as our emcee for the evening. Ace was the inaugural event winner in 2012 and is excited to be back on the stage!

Not only will the evening feature hilarious entertainment but a fantastic line-up of raffle prizes as well! Thanks to the generosity of so many local businesses and organizations, we have collected thousands of dollars in incredible raffle prizes which could be yours. Prizes have been donated by places such as Assiniboine Park Zoo, Aura Hair Salon, Celebrations Dinner Theatre, Children’s Museum, Fort Whyte Alive, FUDE, Goodlife Fitness for Women, Manitoba Theatre Centre, Winnipeg Folk Festival and the Winnipeg Jets just to name a few (licence MGCC#5542).

The evening will conclude with a complimentary wine reception in the lobby following the winner announcement and raffle prize draw!

SYTYCA Kerri and Cheryl with trophy

SYTYCA 2013 Winner Kerri Salki with Scene Partner Cheryl Gensiorek

So You Think You Can Act is truly a fun fundraising event! All money raised will go directly back to Sarasvàti Productions and support our transformative theatre work. Tickets are $25 dollars and can be purchased online by clicking here. You can also give us a call at (204) 586-2236 and make arrangements to come down to our office and pay with either cash or cheque. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door but we strongly recommend purchasing your tickets in advance in order to avoid disappointment! Box office open at 6:00pm and the show will begin promptly at 7:00pm.

We hope you’ll join us for a fantastic evening filled with plenty of laughter, great prizes, and free food and drink! See you on February 19th at So You Think You  Can Act!

                                                

SYTYCA Presents: Eva Kovacs

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As a news anchor, Eva has no problem speaking in front of a camera. But what will happen on stage in front of a real live audience? Will she rise to the challenge when put outside her comfort zone? See for yourself on February 19th, 2014 at our 3rd annual So You Think You Can Act fundraising event! Eva will take on the role of Francis in a scene from Wendy Lill’s The Fighting Days. Keep reading to find out more about Eva, her last time on stage, and her father’s excellent advice!

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!

Eva Kovacs – Global Morning News

Eva Kovacs-HeadshotEva Kovacs reflects on a childhood memory reciting Hungarian poetry at cultural events, her father coaching her to ‘project to the back of the room’. “On the Morning News,” Eva smiles “I only have to project to the microphone clipped to my blouse. Acting and large audiences still freak me out.” She sees her role as news anchor at Global Winnipeg as providing a grounding presence to the spontaneous fun that often erupts during the 3 hour morning cast: keeping it all under control. “I’m curious to see how I perform when I’m totally outside my comfort zone at So You Think You Can Act, and I hope I remember my father’s advice.”

So You Think You Can Act promises to be an entertaining evening filled with plenty of laughs! The event will also feature fantastic raffle prizes donated by local businesses such as the Winnipeg Folk Festival, FortWhyte Alive, Goodlife Fitness for Women, and  the Winnipeg Jets just to name a few (raffle licence # MGCC#5542). Don’t miss out! Help support the transformative theatre work of Sarasvàti Productions and get your tickets today.

SYTYCA Presents: Jim Ingebrigtsen

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Last year, radio host Kerri Salki of 102.3 Clear FM dominated the stage and took home the trophy prize! Will Jim Ingebrigtsen prove radio hosts have what it takes? Join us on February 19th, 2014 and see for yourself. Jim is a former radio and television producer/host and will try his hand at acting at the 3rd annual So You Think You Can Act. Catch him as Galbraith in a staged reading from The Essay by Canadian playwright 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.

Jim Ingebrigtsen – Radio and Television Producer/HostJim Ingebrigsten - Headshot

Jim has written, produced and hosted radio and television programming for more than three decades. His career also includes writing, producing and/or voicing over 3000 commercials. Jim sits on many boards and committees including Manitoba Theatre for Young People, Special Olympics, Winnipeg Harvest and the Wells Foundation. He is a former president of the Advertising Association of Winnipeg. Jim is a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for contribution to community and country.

Celebrities, raffle prizes, free wine and more! Don’t miss your chance to see some of Winnipeg’s top names get up and act out hilarious scenes on stage. Tickets to So You Think You Can Act are $25 and include a fabulous wine reception after the show! To purchase tickets, click here or call us at (204) 586-2236.