Ready For Launch

-Written by Emma WelhamEmma Welham Headshot

As I enter the final year in my undergrad degree, my thoughts have been on what to do after I graduate. Many professors say “Make your own work!”, but I will admit that idea always scared me slightly. When the time came, would I know how to create a piece from scratch? Would I be able to cover not only everything on the artistic side of the process but on the production and business side of things as well?

Thankfully, the universe has a way of giving you what you need, and this past May I learned about Sarasvàti Production’s Launchpad Project. Aimed specifically at emerging artists, The Launchpad Project gives artists like me the chance to create our own show over the period of three months; culminating in three performances of the show at their annual FemFest.

Starting in mid-June, myself and eight other incredible emerging artists began workshops with industry professionals in devised theatre, movement, improv, and directing before beginning to cultivate and create material that we would like to put in our show. Now a month into this project, I can easily say that being a part of this initiative is one of the most fun and artistically fulfilling projects I have ever been involved in.

non binaryWe meet twice a week (soon to become three in mid-August), and create, create, create! Each of our eight members takes turns leading the rehearsals and we have two facilitators in the room in order to keep things running smoothly. Each member of our group comes from a different background both in theatre and in life, and one of my favourite parts of rehearsal are our group discussions, because everyone brings such a unique perspective to the table.

As we approach August our show is starting to take shape as we begin to piece together material previously created and begin to create the structure of our show.

Be sure to follow Sarasvàti Productions on Facebook, Instagram (@sarasvati_wpg) and Twitter to keep up to date with all future The Launchpad Project updates including blog posts and Instagram takeovers! For more information on FemFest 2019, visit our website HERE!

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To Infinity… And Beyond!

Forging a future for FemFest requires providing a space for the next generation of voices. To this end we have initiated an exciting new program. At this year’s FemFest, you will get to see the results of their development in progress! “The Launchpad Project” compiles a roster of emerging women and non-binary artists whose creative mediums range from a variety of disciplines: directors, dancers, performers, playwrights, technical crew, etc. This diverse and well rounded team will take part in intensive workshops over the summer including: movement work, vocal work, improvisation, devised theatre and scene-writing. Professionals working in Winnipeg’s theatre industry will lead these workshops and mentor the creative team.

The goal of this project is to give emerging artists a chance to learn, develop skills and network with industry professionals. How does it tie into FemFest? Along with all of the professional shows we put on at FemFest in September, The Launchpad will premiere a devised production connected to the FemFest theme just for YOU! The result of ongoing rehearsals over the summer and training alongside professionals! This is an exciting opportunity for both the artists and the spectators alike. The Launchpad ensemble will have the chance to display their hard work for you the audience, while spectators will have the chance to see a brand new work of theatre with a fresh cast and crew.

Facilitating and Coordinating the Launchpad are Victoria Hill and Lindsay Johnson. They are ecstatic to be helping a new group of performers break through and create their own piece for FemFest.

As for the ensemble members… here’s a list of who you can expect to see:

  • A.J. Hotomani
  • Anika Dowsett
  • Emma Welham
  • Jonathan Mourant
  • Karam Daoud
  • Leaf Pankratz
  • Makrenna Sterdan
  • Sara Groleau
  • Sarah Flynn
  • Bennette Villones, ASM

We can’t wait to see what this amazing team comes up with! We know it will be riveting!

Stay tuned for more details on this exciting project and the up-and-comers involved. Also, check out our just launched FemFest 2019 website!

Making A Living In Theatre

  • By Brooklyn Kilfoyle, Marketing and Community Outreach Assistant

Are you new to the world of theatre? Just graduated? Feeling a little lost? Or have you worked in the industry for years and are looking to share and hear common experiences? Every year, we hold a series of panels, workshops and discussions. Next on the docket, we are hosting a round table discussion all about, “Making a Living in Theatre.” In such a competitive and intense field of work, it can be hard to navigate the path towards finding success in the theatre industry. We want you to find success in your passion and that is the goal of our next professional development offering on June 22nd.

We have brought together professionals who not only work in the theatre industry, but who have found success in their respective fields. In the round-table, you will sit among professionals and newbies alike and discuss the theatre industry. You will have opportunities to ask your own questions and have them answered by people who have experienced exactly what you are working towards, all while sharing a common love of theatre.

As a recent graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, I know I am constantly full of questions. “Where should I be looking for jobs?” “How do I network?” These questions can be daunting and scary and there have been many Brooklyn Kilfoyle, a twenty-two year old woman with green eyes and short dark hair wearing a pink turtle neck.times I wished there was someone to guide me. One of the most prominent questions others seem to ask me is, “is it even possible to make a living in theatre?” And of course it is! There are so many professional people right here in Winnipeg who live very successful lives working in theatre. Of course, it’s hard to remember that when you don’t personally know these people. Which is why this session is such a great opportunity for fresh graduates like me, it’s a starting point. A chance to meet people in the industry and get a sense of what it’s like to fully submerge yourself into it.

This discussion isn’t just for the newbies, like me. It’s for anyone trying to make a living in theatre! Whether you’re new to it, or been in the industry for years. We want this to be a safe and productive space where you can share your experiences, have others relate, ask your questions and have them answered. Or simply, just come and listen! We will have a panel of professionals signed on and ready to share.A group of men and women of various ages sitting in a circle, talking

The round table discussion will take place on June 22nd at The Asper Centre For Theatre and Film (400 Colony) at 2PM in room 2T05. Access to the discussion is on a “pay what you choose” donation basis, we ask that if you plan on attending the round table, you send an email to Sami at production@sarasvati.ca. Show up with your questions ready, sit, listen, learn and share your own experiences! We hope you can make it!

More details on who you can expect to see at the round table coming soon, so stay tuned!

Exploring Responses to Reconciliation

We’re excited to share what’s come out of Seven Visions: Reconciliation through Theatre project launch! We’ve had incredible audiences over the last few days respond to the notion of reconciliation. There’s one more chance to be part of the conversation tonight at 7pm!

We’ve had a great experience so far working with the amazing artists who are part of this project – here are just some of the reasons they’re excited to be involved as we look ahead to the next phase of the project!

I’m very excited about this project because I feel like the perspective that comes forward in the play is very important – very comedic, very funny, very relatable – to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. I’m really excited to see how that affects the audience.” – Darla Contois, Performer, OUR HOME & native land and Indigenous Advisory Committee member

 

 

As an artist engaged with this project, I’m hoping to work with some youth on creating art works that really bring forward their voices and their thoughts on reconciliation and what that means to them. The interactive art work we’re creating at the theatre allows for the public to come out and have their voices heard around reconciliation as well.” – Jaime Black, Visual Artist

I think it’s really important to have reconciliation in theatre because it’s a very important way of communicating different styles. Historically speaking, theatre came from settler colonies – Britain, mainly – and First Nations and Indigenous peoples’ way of communicating and passing down knowledge has been storytelling. What is storytelling but performance and theatre? The coming together and meeting in that spot is really important for reconciliation.” – Nova Courchene, Indigenous Project Coordinator

 

 

It’s been almost three years since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its final report. It put out a challenge to all Canadians. While it was a legal proceeding and even bringing to bear the need for an apology, that doesn’t really bring reconciliation. What we present is an opportunity to have a difficult discussion in a creative and stimulating environment involving youth. There will be hard discussions and there will be hard topics, but it will also be creative and full of hope.” – Myra Tait, Vice President and Indigenous Advisory Committee member

 

 

We’ve had some incredible audience responses so far as community members interact with the art installations, writing down their thoughts and responses to how each of us can do our part for reconciliation. One audience member mentioned that growing up, Indigenous peoples’ history wasn’t taught in her school and it wasn’t until much later in life that she was able to learn more about her own history. Starting this project with a focus on youth allows for an earlier connection to one’s roots. As well, discussions after OUR HOME & native land focused on how each of us can avoid being a “George”: admitting when we don’t know something and recognizing the importance of listening when others have something to teach us.

Discussions from this event will also help us as we move forward in shaping the full production for May 2020. Huge thank you to Patrick Rabago for these incredible photos from the event so far! For more information on the project, check out our website.

Bringing Seven Visions to Life

Last week we posted about what Indigenous youth brought up in our seven consultation circles, this week it’s time for visual artist Jaime Black to echo their comments in an interactive art installation!

dsc_0065.jpgJaime is a Metis multidisciplinary artist and is well known for her REDress Project which she created to give voice to the hundreds of murdered and missing Indigenous women across Canada. For this project she is finding a way to visually represent ideas of the Indigenous youth who participated in the consultation circles and transmit that to audiences of Seven Visions: Reconciliation Through Theatre. There will be an opportunity for all attending to interact with and add to visual representations as we continue the conversation of what reconciliation means.

dsc_0059.jpgAudiences will be able to participate prior to the reading of Jo MacDonald’s play OUR HOME & native land (so feel free to come early!), during intermission, or after we’ve completed the presentation. While we’ll be holding conversation circles, we understand talking about these issues may not be the best form of communication for everyone. This is why Jaime has been part of the project since the beginning. Our aim with this presentation is to share what we’ve learned so far and to gather more information on current thoughts and feelings about reconciliation and treaty relations. We want everyone to feel comfortable doing so in whatever medium they choose.

Starting Wednesday Jaime has been setting up several stations throughout the theatre. She is using a variety of materials to provide several options for audiences to engage with. Including fabric, paper, and even rocks! While that’s a lot of material, she’s still leaving room for us to set up conversation circles, and space for our actors.

DSC_0027Also helping to bring the public presentation to life are actors Darla Contois, Patricia Hunter, Kevin Klassen, Marsha Knight, and Spenser Payne with Stage Manager Tamera Grace reading stage directions! With the guidance of director Heidi Malazdrewich these actors have been hard at work rehearsing Jo’s witty play confronting treaty violations and our history. Their rehearsals have been filled with laughs and deep conversations, and we’re excited to share this play with audiences during our Seven Visions presentations!

If interactive art installations and a great cast aren’t enough incentive to come out, there will also be food at intermission. And, the presentations are pay-what-you-can-afford. What is there not to love?

Book your tickets today on our website or call our office to reserve (204-586-2236). We will also accept cash, cheque or credit card at the door. For more information please visit our website by clicking here!

 

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Consulting with Youth: Seven Visions

The first component of our Reconciliation through Theatre project is in the books! Over the past few weeks, our team has been meeting with Indigenous youth to discuss what they’d like to see for our upcoming workshop series. We’ll be sharing a full recap of these first meetings at Seven Visions: Reconciliation through Theatre running May 4-9, but read on for a teaser!

Project Coordinator Nova Courchene, Visual Artist Jaime Black, and our Indigenous Community Outreach Coordinator Marsha Knight have been hard at work meeting with youth across our seven different partner organizations.

 

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For our sessions with Ndinawe, our team looked at creating an ongoing art project for youth to drop in and add on their versions of the teachings. By giving them a way to express themselves, the youth were more likely to open up through art than chatting around a table each session. We’re excited to see how this piece will evolve over time!

At Wahbung Abinoonjiiag, participants believed parents passing along the Seven Sacred Teachings was important to help youth connect with their culture, stemming from elders down to their families and younger siblings.

For one youth, the teachings are about “history, teaching about what your ancestors did. Learning from your history, and how to be a good person.”

“Reconciliation” can mean many different things to different people. At the Indigenous Leadership Development Institute, youth shared their own definitions:

Reconciliation means fixing your wrong doings.”

Reconciling is about your past self and who you are now, and you become your true self from the meeting of the two.”

Reconciliation is about reconnecting others together, bringing people together and connecting one another.”

For youth at Children of the Earth High School, reconciliation takes on a different meaning: “Say someone burned your house down and is now helping you rebuild a house. Not just going ahead and building the house themselves, but finding out what you need in that house.” Youth were also interested in the evolution of Indigenous fashion over time, from the seventies and traditional regalia through to present day appropriation by the fashion industry. As the head of the REDress Project, Jaime was able to offer insight on the use of fashion to shine a light on missing and murdered Aboriginal women across Canada.

Possible art forms for the workshops will cover anything from film, visual art, music, animation, improv, Claymation – you name it! Our team was able to share in a smudging ceremony with the youth at Knowles Centre before kicking off their conversations. For their participants, athletics is an important a way to express themselves and build trust with new members.

For youth at Manitoba Youth Centre, there was an importance of learning about reconciliation with both sides in mind. When two members had had a conflict, they got together and talked.That was an important way to look at reconciliation without placing blame on one side.

Some organizations received an “ancestor stone” to maintain throughout the journey of the project. Marymound youth learned about the importance of the elder stones, how the spirits of their ancestors are contained in the rocks to offer guidance and support.

We’re excited to continue working with these youth and look forward to seeing the final production in May 2020! Join us for one of the 4 presentation dates between May 4 to 9 to learn more and provide input on the project.

 

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Building Bridges

We have kicked off our next long-term initiative and it has us busting at the seams – both with excitement and literally needing a bigger office space for our staff team! Our new collaborative project focused on reconciliation through storytelling is bringing together a team of Indigenous artists to work with Indigenous youth. Thanks to the generous support of the Winnipeg Foundation, we’re welcoming Nova Courchene to the team as our Project Coordinator for this exciting artistic community-based creation! Sarasvàti Productions joins twenty community organizations who have received funding from the Winnipeg Foundation for projects that work towards reconciliation.

 Nova Courchene Headshot
Nova Courchene is Anishinaabe-kwe from Sagkeeng First Nation and Rolling River both located in Manitoba. Nova has been involved in music and theatre for five years, working with musicians and in theatre organizations out of Toronto and Winnipeg. Currently situating herself in Winnipeg, she is actively working as the Assistant Program Director at the Native Youth Theatre program, run out of Manitoba Theatre for Young people. With experience in her past as an Arts Administrator Intern at Native Earth Performing Arts, and two intern positions at Manitoba Music including a Music Administrator Internship for 3 local Winnipeg Recording Music Artists.

Nova has a deep understanding of the challenges Indigenous people face in their daily lives and the conflict that colonization brings to everyday life. She is excited to dig into the reconciliation project. After meeting with Marsha Knight, our Indigenous Community Outreach Coordinator, she will be moving forward with coordinating the logistics of the project.  Discussions continue with various organizations as we welcome sponsors, partners, and participants. She hopes to bring her administration and coordination skills to the project to provide a safe and accommodating space for all involved in the project.

Nova has been surrounded by various Indigenous creatives including emerging playwrights, songwriters, and theatre professionals. She is excited to participate in Sarasvàti’s on-going pledge dedicated to using theatre to promote human understanding and the presentation of evolving experiences on stage. She holds strongly to the ideas of developing young Indigenous voices, experiences and representation within the theatre industry. 


The full project will include consultation circles in the
spring of 2019 leading to an initial public gathering in May 2019. Here artistic means will be used to share what has been captured to date, while also allowing for public dialogue around next steps in the project. From there we will continue to work with partner organizations to structure workshops with Indigenous youth at seven different locations. These sessions will allow arts skills to be transferred to participants, while also having them collaborate on a large-scale public performance in May 2020. The results and lessons learned from the project will be explored and methodologies built in to Sarasvàti’s practices moving forward. We are excited to continue to work with new partner organizations and artists with whom relationships are built as part of this process. Through long-term relationship building, collaboration, and welcoming amazing new team members like Nova we hope to continue the on-going commitment to true reconciliation.


Visit our website to keep tabs as the project develops or feel free to contact ncourchene@sarasvati.ca for information or to get involved.