Changing Lives: Students and Teachers Respond to ‘Diss’

Yesterday was the last show of our tour of Diss and we have completed 28 shows to 4000+ students, teachers and community members! This tour has been a success because of the wealth of encouragement and support we have received thus far! We wanted to take the time to show you some of the ways Diss has affected students and teachers. Compiled here is only a sample of the responses we have received. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we have!

photo by Janet Shum   photo by Janet Shum

“Great performance – great cast!”

“The actors were highly engaging, and the creative team on the whole did a great job with the storytelling.  The forum theatre approach offered the students an opportunity to explore in depth the hard hitting issue of new immigrant gang involvement.   Those who took part in the interventions experienced on a personal level the struggles that surround the issue.  The ensuing discussion was authentic and informed in a way that would not have been possible without the forum theatre model.”

“[The students] said at first they thought it was going to be lame but they all really got into it.  The part where the mom kicked Sam out was the part that they all commented on.  I think they can all imagine (or have had) that type of fight with their parents and it really resonated with them.”

“The next day I talked some of the students to get some feedback, and I only heard positive praise. One student is sixteen and last year was wearing gang colors and had dropped out of school. Shortly after the play I approached this same student and asked him what he thought of the the play, and he responded with honesty, “It was good”. Another student the next day confessed that he had family members involved in the gang life and was more open to talking about his concerns with the school counsellor. I believe that this play might have been the turning point in possibly changing someone’s life.”

“It was funny, interactive and it made you want to pay attention.”

“Our reaction to the production was very positive and enthusiastic. Artistic Director, Hope McIntyre, succeeds in having youth actors fully engage with the community’s youth, and thus creates positive, much needed discussion around the issues of youth and gangs. Interesting and productive discussion was very much alive within our very interactive and lively audience. Their openness to youth coincided nicely with play’s theme of newcomer youth and their struggles with integration and gangs. Overall a very positive, informative experience… it would be great to see what else Winnipeg’s art scene has to offer!”

“Showed a good message and it was super enjoyable to watch.”

“I just wanted to thank you again for helping bring DISS to our school yesterday.  We had a diverse mix of students in the audience and this helped create a productive, positive, and memorable dialogue.  Such a great play and a great cast that connected well to our high school kids. Loved it.  Just loved it.”

Thanks again to all of those who attended shows at their school, community groups or the free show at the Winnipeg Public Library! Thank you as well to ArtCity, Evolution AV, the Manitoba Arts Council, The Winnipeg Arts Council, Manitoba Community Services Council Inc, the Richardson Foundation and the Winnipeg Foundation! Stay tuned for even more inspiring and energetic productions throughout our 2012-2013 theatre season! For more information on what we have to offer, visit www.sarasvati.ca!

Diss Evolution AV thanks

Making Their Mark: ‘Diss’ Actor Bios Part 1

Our high school and community group tour of Diss is underway! We are excited to perform for a variety of audiences and to encourage students to make positive choices in their communities. The actors in Diss are excited to see the reactions from the students and to work with them to creative meaningful interventions. So far the show has received rave reviews, enthusiastic participation and allowed youth to find solutions to peer pressure and gang violence.

Speaking of our actors, here’s a chance to get to know more about these talented artists! They come from a variety of backgrounds and levels of experience and have truly brought Diss to life. Today we feature part 1 of our actor biographies!

  • Eugene “GeNie” Baffoe plays EmJay the DJ, narrator and facilitator of the show. GeNie is an established hip hop dancer/choreographer in Winnipeg originally from Montreal, Quebec.  In the artistic world acting is his second passion. It has taught him how to play and/or create diverse characters and personalities. GeNie has yet to take a professional acting course of any kind but has managed to land a few high profile roles in stage productions such of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and RENT. Every year he hosts a non-profit charity dance showcase called “Dance 4 MS” which he began in 2009. Audiences have been amazed by his energy, ability to tackle a variety of characters and his confidence in guiding audiences through the interventions.
  • John Echanoplays Tyrone, a teen who quickly becomes embroiled in the gang lifestyle.John appeared in many school plays when he was a student at Tec Voc. Recently he appeared in an episode of the television program Todd and the Book of Pure Evil. He has taken classes at the Prairie Theatre Exchange for the past year. In his spare time he likes to ride his unicycle or play fetch with his dog Frodo. John has one of the biggest challenges in Diss as he plays a character who resorts to violence to solve his problems. When John comes out after the show audiences are amazed to find he is a really sweet guy. He even brings cake for the cast road trips!
  • Braiden Houle  plays the ringleader Jesse.Braiden was inspired to become an actor after learning of his relation to Adam Beach at the age of 12. After 2 weeks, he got his first audition for feature film Juliana and the Medicine Fish. After this experience, Braiden studied theatre at the Manitoba Theatre for Young People (MTYP). Braiden loves theatre and continued on with productions such as Will Work 4 Home (2009), Jumping Mouse (2010), The Moving Gallery (2010), and Fringe shows Little Red Riding Hood (2011) and Wings Of Darkness (2012). He was previously cast in Sarasvàti Productions forum theatre piece No Offense. We are excited to have Braiden back as he often has the challenge of improvising throughout multiple interventions.

Don’t forget to mark your calendars! Our free, public show of Diss is taking place on November 7th at 630pm at the Millennium Library. Reserve your spot today (204-586-2236) as seating is limited.