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!

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Perogies & Puns Fundraiser – Stuffed with Fun!

Nothing says “Manitoba” quite like perogies – but be warned, these aren’t your Baba’s stuffed dumplings. On March 3rd, join us for our province’s favourite dumpling and some hilarious comedy with Perogies & Puns – a gourmet perogy pop-up dinner! This is a one-time event to raise money to support the transformative theatre work of Sarasvàti Productions.

There will be five courses of perogy deliciousness, including vegan and gluten-free options so every Manitoban can chow down! Providing the perogies will be Chef Keith Csabak, who runs the kitchen at Forth. Mississauga-born, Keith comes from a European-Slavic background so he is more than familiar with the art of perogies! His dough recipe has been passed down through his family with a few modifications made for the gluten-free crowd. The menu for the event includes a beef stroganoff with peppercorn gravy (lentil substitute for vegans), ‘twice baked’ perogy with crab and cheddar, kimchi-style sauerkraut, dill pickle-chip with potato filling and a corn gravy, and blueberry-saskatoon perogies with berry coulis for dessert!

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Angie St. Mars

On the pun side are local comedians Angie St. Mars and Mike Green. In addition to being our former Associate Producer, Angie is a Winnipeg-based comedian and sketch comic known for her tongue-in-cheek feminist-fueled wit. She has been featured multiple times in the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, ODDBLOCK Comedy Festival, the Winnipeg Comedy Showcase, and Queer and Present Danger. She is a staple of the live comedy game show ‘Pants on Fire’ as the team captain of the team that always wins. You can catch her regularly as part of the monthly show, The Rhythm Section at Wee Johnny’s.

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Mike Green

Mike Green has told jokes for years on stages all across the country, including touring with the Raise the Woof fundraiser shows benefitting animal shelters across Canada. He has been building a reputation for the past seven years by working with some of the top comedic acts in North America as well as freelance work with the CBC. He’s always eager to get onstage at any type of show, from running a weekly open mic for the past six years, hosting the inaugural ODDBLOCK Festival, and performing six years in a row with the Winnipeg Comedy Festival.

Pulling the event all together is Delta Hirsch. Delta is a second-year Creative Communications student at Red River College who really likes food. For the past two years, Delta has been a member of the Fundraising and Development Committee with Sarasvàti Productions. She has worked on Perogies & Puns for the past year, hoping to help Sarasvàti continue to present significant social issues, like mental health and equality.

The dinner is Saturday, March 3 from 7 – 10 PM. Seating is limited, so get your tickets today! Tickets are $50 and available here. You can also check out the event on Facebook or contact Delta for sponsorship opportunities.

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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.

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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!

 

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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.

Pushing Past Obstacles

Growth, change, the struggle to fit in, overcoming adversity – all universal experiences and part of what it means to be unstoppable. At this year’s International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues: I Am Unstoppable, our line-up features women of all ages and backgrounds finding the strength to face whatever life threw at them. This week we’re featuring two more exciting pieces: Perfect Pie, one woman’s description of experiencing seizures, and Flight 182, which focuses on what it means to be Canadian.

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Judith Thompson

The artists behind Perfect Pie are Judith Thompson, renowned Canadian playwright, and local performer Anna Binder. Perfect Pie was originally written as a monologue in 1993 before being adapted into a full-length play and later, a feature film. Thompson has won numerous awards for her work, including two Governor General’s Literary Awards for Drama and an Officer in the Order of Canada. We had the pleasure of hosting Thompson for several events at FemFest 2017 including a playwriting master class, a performance of her play Watching Glory Die, and as a ‘book’ in our Human Library.

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Anna Binder

Looking back, Binder believes she was always meant to go into entertainment as she’s always been drawn to the arts. Binder’s parents encouraged her journey into theatre after convincing her to pursue courses that really moved her. She took her first acting course at the University of Winnipeg last year and has been inspired since the first lesson.

“Although my character and I are both disabled women, my piece isn’t actually about her disability,” says Binder. “Disability is just one of the powerful vehicles the piece uses to tell a story that’s relevant to us all. Everyone has challenges that are incomprehensibly steep. To each of us are unique experiences, and part of the human condition is the decision to either tell people what you think they want to hear, or to take a leap of faith; to trust people with your vulnerabilities, then welcome whatever reactions they might answer you with.”

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Anjali Sandhu

Returning for her second year at our Cabaret of Monologues is Anjali Sandhu. In addition to studying law at the University of Manitoba, Sandhu is also a comedian, actor, and writer. She performed stand-up at the SheDot Comedy Festival in Toronto as well as Sirius XM’s Next Top Comic and The Park Theatre’s Empow(her)ment. Sandhu has also appeared in our November Women’s Comedy Night fundraiser as well as The Trump Card at the 2017 Winnipeg Fringe Festival with District Theatre Collective.

Sandhu’s piece, Flight 182, takes its name from the 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182 and the Canadian government’s response to the incident. “It affected all Canadians, but especially the Indo-Canadian community,” says Sandhu. “As an Indo-Canadian, I was able to see myself in the situation that the protagonist of my piece is in. She is still striving to create change from a position in which most people would be ineffective.”

We look forward to presenting our entire line-up of impactful stories on Saturday, March 10th! For more information, click here.

Sharing the Stories of Unstoppable Women

As we gear up for International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues: I Am Unstoppable, we’re proud to present the artists behind two more of our upcoming pieces. ObScene is a performance art piece that explores healthy sensuality as well as the importance of women supporting women. I Am a Warrior focuses on the fact that it is never too late to pursue your dreams.

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Kristy Janvier

ObScene – created and performed by Kristy Janvier

Janvier was born and raised in Flin Flon and is of Dene, Irish, and Ukrainian decent. At the age of eighteen, she began working overseas as a professional actress/dancer. Upon returning to Canada in 2016, she has connected to her roots through contemporary-Indigenous dance. She’s had opportunities to work with Young Lungs Dance Exchange (Winnipeg); 8 Days (Toronto); Aberdeen Cultural Centre (New Brunswick); Dancers of Damelahamid (Vancouver); and Weesageechak Festival (Toronto).

Janvier created ObScene after an experiment conducted during a hostessing gig. “I made a point of only smiling at the women and got very mixed reactions,” explains Janvier. “In my research, I’m looking at how my own beliefs or judgements hold myself back from true expression. I’m curious if women hold ourselves back out of fear of judgement from others. This piece is about exploring our inner sensuality as a means of release, which I hope inspires others to do so as well.”

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Sue Higgs

I am a Warrior – written by Sue Higgs and performed by Cheryl Soluk

Originally from the United Kingdom, Higgs came to Canada by way of Nova Scotia eleven years ago. Higgs didn’t start writing until she reached her fifties, but has since enjoyed being a member of the Eastern Shore Players, who have produced several of her plays. She has been fortunate to have six short comedies performed at the annual King’s Shorts Festival in Annapolis Royal, NS.

Higgs’ piece, I am a Warrior, comes from the inspiration of her mother, who encouraged her to get out there and try everything. “I don’t think age should ever stop you from learning something new,” Higgs says.

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Cheryl Soluk

Performing Higgs’ piece is Cheryl Soluk. Soluk is thrilled to be working with Sarasvàti Productions again, having joined us for 2017’s One Night Stand series and SHORTs for FemFest 2016. She has also performed in a number of local productions: Jim Forgetting (Stars on Moon Theatre); Janitor, 2CentStamp, Recycled (Geri\the\atrics); Blade, Under the Empress of China, June’s Window (Theatre Anywhere); and Jill’s War, Story of Deborah (Sarasvàti Productions).

“One of the greatest joys in life is to be able to tell someone’s story,” says Soluk. “It’s a moment in time where a group of strangers meet in one room so they can all feel something together, and how awesome is that?”

We couldn’t agree more, Cheryl! Join us on March 10th at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film to experience all our artists and their stories. For more information, click here!

Staying Unstoppable Through Change

This week, we’re featuring three more artists from our upcoming International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues: I Am Unstoppable! Get to know them below:

Sweet an Nice – written by Althea Cunningham, performed by Lorraine James

Althea Cunningham headshot 2017

Althea Cunningham

Cunningham is of Jamaican descent and grew up in Edmonton, AB. She is a graduate of the Theatre Arts Program at MacEwan University and a seasoned performer with a background in acting, writing, music and producing.  In 2005, Cunningham founded her three-tier company Nappy Roots Productions, which focuses on positive stories for the black diaspora in the twenty-first century using writing, acting and music as the vehicle.

Her piece, Sweet an Nice, focuses on the story of her mother as a Jamaican immigrant coming to Canada in the 1970s. “Not only was it culture shock, but there were unexpected challenges she experienced up until the day of her death. My mother, being my most beloved parent, left behind a legacy that I feel needs exploring,” says Cunningham. “It’s a story that deals with intense, painful themes: immigration, discrimination, abuse, and codependency. Writing allows me to explore, heal and move forward from the past.”

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Lorraine James

Bringing Cunningham’s piece to the stage is long-time veteran of Sarasvàti, Lorraine James. James has most recently been seen in the 2017 FemFest Bake-Off, The Mousetrap for Christiefest, When God Comes for Breakfast You Don’t Burn the Toast, and The Appointment.

“I get to portray an experience seemingly outside of myself,” says James. “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.”

 

I Got 99 Problems, My Penis is Just One – created and performed by Cynthia Fortlage

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Cynthia Fortlage

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Fortlage has worked as an internationally award-winning information technology executive for the past twenty-nine years with a privately owned Winnipeg company.  She is a board member with various organizations, including Rainbow Resource Center where she sits as President of the Board. Ms. Fortlage came to terms in 2016 with a forty-one-year denial of her true gender identity.

Fortlage created her piece to share some insight as a transgender woman and to share the message of acceptance without understanding. “Acceptance without understanding is a way to see how we interact with each other as human beings first before any gender, sexual preference, age, body shape, country of origin, political or religious beliefs, and so on.”

You can catch these amazing pieces – and many more! – on March 10th at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Ticket information available here!