ENVISION – Sarasvàti Productions 2017/18 Season Launch

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Sarasvàti Productions invites you to envision a season of life-changing theatre that is inclusive, full of possibility and absolutely thrilling!

From FemFest 2017: Coming of Age to the 2018 International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues: I Am Unstoppable, to a formidable season of workshops geared to supporting youth and emerging artists: we are so excited to get started! Join us on August 4th at the Saddlery on Market (114 Market Ave)–a beautiful new spot in the Exchange District. This party is absolutely free. Show up by 7pm to enjoy the entire evening, or pop in throughout your First Friday adventures.

We’ll be celebrating FemFest’s 15th birthday by having some of our staff and artists share things they wrote as a child.

Let us entertain you with a Cabaret-style line-up featuring artists from our season to come. RobYn Slade presents a sampling of 50/50 theatre-improv fusion from the FemFest 2017 Cabaret. Reena Jolly performs a monologue devised from interviews with young newcomer women as part of New Beginnings development. Melanee Deschambeault and Erica Wilson perform a teaser  from FemFest featured show Two Indians and much, much more!

See what you envision at our awesome build-your-own kaleidoscope station courtesy of ArtsJunktion mb.

And as always we’ll have plenty of decadent cupcakes supplied generously by Cake-ology.

So join us on Friday August 4th as we envision an incredible season of Winnipeg theatre.
See more event details here.

 

FemFest Celebrates 15 Years!

Our beloved festival in support of women playwrights turns 15 this year! We are celebrating with the theme Coming of Age and a line-up that will blow you away.

We are ecstatic to be bringing in one of the most highly regarded playwright’s in Canadian history, two-time Governor General award-winning playwright Judith Thompson!  Thompson will join us for Mulgrave Road Theatre’s production of her play Watching Glory Die,  a harrowing play based on the true story of Ashley Smith. She will also teach a playwriting master class (September 20, 21 and 22 from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.) give a Real Thing lecture and be part of the Human Library ™.

Tomboy Survival Guide is a live stage experience that defies genre and gender boxes with fearless truth-telling and compassionate defiance. Ivan Coyote and an all-tomboy band take the audience on a musical journey navigating the narrow halls of public washrooms, skirting the childhood threat of being picked to be a flower girl, triumphing over tying a double Windsor knot, and discovering the beauty in being handsome, not pretty, all along. This is also our first time taking FemFest to the West End Cultural Centre!

We focus our in-house attention on producing Two Indians by Falen Johnson directed by Sonya Ballantyne. After years apart two cousins meet in a Toronto alley to recreate a ceremony from their childhood, but can they remember how? When the words missing and murdered, truth and reconciliation, occupation and resistance are everywhere, how do two Mohawk women stand their ground?

We’ll share a workshop preview of New Beginnings, a work in development created with the Winnipeg newcomer and refugee community.  Come and see a preview of this exciting culmination of story and dance from around the world.
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As a company dedicated to transforming society through theatre, we’ve witnessed the impact  that story-sharing can have on breaking down stereotypes and prejudices. This year we are thrilled to present a Human Library ™ as part of FemFest.  In partnership with the Millennium Library, Sarasvàti Productions has curated an incredible line up of Human Books that you can ‘take out’ for a one-of-a-kind learning experience.

Bake off 2016The beloved Bake-Off is back! This FemFest favourite challenges 5 local female playwrights to write a scene in 8-hours using three key top-secret ingredients. Scenes will be performed as part of the Festival on Sept. 18.
Winner of the FemFest 2016 Bake-Off, Jessy Ardern presents a reading of her play in progress, Kit and Joe.

WebFor ages 6 and up, Castlemoon Theatre presents Grounded Heroes. 10 year old Jess loves Lego, but her friends think it’s childish and weird. While researching a class assignment, Jess encounters three girls from history who were also a little bit weird for their time, and together they discover what it means to be true to yourself.

And you definitely won’t want to miss our closing night! This season, we brought our classic One Night Stand play reading series back with a vengeance. In honour of Winnipeg’s own celebrated female playwrights we’re curating a special One Night Stand dedicated to showcasing works in progress by some of these prolific writers who will be joined by Judith Thompson.

Workshops, readings and a dynamite Opening Cabaret will be a staple again this year. Get your passes now and celebrate 15 years of FemFest!

Art Beyond the Stage

The artistic showcase is going beyond the stage at this year’s International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues with the help of our amazing Outreach Coordinator, Audrey Unger! A Masters student at the U of M, Audrey has been working with Sarasvàti Productions since September 2016 as part of her practicum in Peace and Conflict Studies.

“The theatre workshops done with several groups of women in November 2016 were a particular highlight”, said Audrey, who helped to organize these story-gathering workshops at a variety of organizations that serve immigrants and refugees. “Much joy and laughter was shared through interaction with theatre games and new friendships were formed by listening to each other’s stories.” Some of the pieces that will be performed on March 11th were developed directly from these workshops.

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Sarasvàti Outreach Coordinator Audrey Unger

Audrey has also been curating an incredible display of visual art in order to highlight this year’s Cabaret theme of “Starting Over”. The collection is made up of pieces in many mediums that have been created by Winnipeg-based artists including photography from the Eritrean Women’s Association and traditional outfits from Uganda and Iraq. Professional Artist Xavier Mutshipayi, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, will be present with his collection of paintings titled “Awakened Consciousness.”  Artist Briand-Nelson Mutima will also be present with a collection of his paintings. The lobby installation represents different moments from these artists’ experience as newcomers at various stages of life in Canada. “This is an opportunity for artists to showcase and discuss their work with the public audience”, said Audrey. “It has been a joy to connect with these new faces in the community.”

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Professional Artist Xavier Mutshipayi with his collection of paintings titled “Awakened Consciousness.”

There will be interactive opportunities as well! Many of the artists will be there to meet the public and chat about their work. Members of the Canadian Muslim Women’s Institute, who were part of our story-gathering workshops, will be set up in the lobby to share info about their call for donations of winter clothing, blankets, toiletries, and furniture to meet the needs of newly arrived refugees. There will be opportunity to purchase items from Sew Fair, a local fair trade company that employs newcomer women.

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Last but not least, check out our photo booth, where you and your friends can take a selfie with your own call to action. We’ll have #beboldforchange arm bands and signs as part of CUPE’s International Women’s Day 2017 campaign.

You can take part in our lobby installation at the Asper Centre for Theatre & Film before and after the performances on March 11th at 4pm and 8pm. Tickets are just $15 and available on-line or at the door. See you there!

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Tales of Starting Over Tackled by a Stellar Cast

We’ve got a lot of local talent packed into this year’s Cabaret, some familiar faces, and some new to Sarasvati. We’re pleased to introduce to you to some of the cast members of the 2017 International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues. Stay tuned next week for part two!

Cherrel Holder is an actress, dancer, and teacher in both arenas. She is a passionate multi-tasker who describes herself as “raw, enthusiastic, and annoyingly positive.” Cherrel will perform In My Country, an exposé of how Canada can appear to some as they arrive from other countries.

Many of you will be familiar with actor Erica Wilson who has worked with Sarasvàti many times, most-recently on Shattered.”I’m a girl with many faces”, says Wilson, “once a women said I had 5, I laughed and told her I currently had 7. I’m a workaholic that tries to do better every single year.” Wilson plays an Ojibwe Activist who finds herself faced with a big choice after speaking out at a rally.

Johanna Burdon is an actor and avid cyclist–perfect for her role in this year’s Cabaret where Johanna plays a character who is part-way through cycling across Canada.”I really like riding my bike”, said Burdon. “It’s my go-to form of transportation because it’s fun, healthy, good for the environment, easy, inexpensive, and reliable.”

Melanee Deschambeault is a full-time student in her 3rd year at U of M. She is an actor as well as one of the facilitators of Sarasvati’s  North End Youth Workshop Series. Melanee performs Questions and Answers, a piece that finds a young woman at a challenging moment in her life  as she attempts to re-enter the dating world after surviving rape.

And finally introducing Sarah London. Sarah is in her first year of studies at the University of Winnipeg. She was recently the subject of a mini-doc for The Orange Daisy Project which advocates for young women’s mental health. London will perform Wild Orchid, the monologue of a young woman with Autism who is trying to come to terms with the idea of breaking patterns.

We caught up with these performers to ask them a few fun questions and  get to know them better as they begin buckling down to rehearse!

If you could wake up tomorrow with any new skill, what would it be?
Erica Wilson: Contortionist, hands down. Its always been in the back of my mind but the way I’m going its such an unreachable goal.
Sarah London: A photographic memory to expand my capacity for knowledge.
Johanna Burdon: To be able to speak, write, and understand every language.
Melanee Deshcambeault: I would love to bilingual. French would be awesome!
Cherrel Holder: Sing like Lea Michelle.

Who is a local woman that inspires you?
Cherrel Holder
: My mom, Junette Holder, because she is a single parent from a third world country who fought to bring me and my two sisters to Canada for a better life, and in doing so has taught me the value of love and forgiveness.
Erica Wilson: I have been able to meet and work with so many kick-ass women in my life, just to name a few, Madison Thomas (also the playwright for the monologue I’m performing), Frances Koncan, Victoria Perrie, Emily Barker and Dee Thomas are just doing so well for themselves.
Sarah London:Your mom…just kidding. My mom inspires me, I probably don’t know your mom.

What would you do if you won a million dollars?
Sarah London: I would invest it, learn to play the stock market, take risks. Turn that million into millions.
Johanna Burdon:
Put half of it in a fund of some sort, so that it would grow, and spend the other producing theatre/donating to theatre companies.
Erica Wilson
: I’d pay off my mom’s debt, get her into her own little house fully paid and utilities paid for up to 20 years. Once that’s done pay my rent off for a year and travel. I’m a simple gal.

If you had to start over again in a new place, where would you want to go?
Cherrel Holder: New York – especially if it was Christmas!
Melanee Deschambeault: I would love to go to Montreal and audition for the National Theater School Of Canada.
Johanna Burdon: I can’t imagine getting a better start in any other city.

We are excited to get down to work with such an amazing cast. For more info on the pieces, or to get tickets visit our website!

 

Starting Over/Finishing Stronger – Ten Powerful Monologues

What do a mystical meeting on a cycling trip across Canada, the inner monologue of a woman’s return to dating after surviving rape, and discovering the cold of Canadian winters have in common? They are all pivotal moments in women’s lives when they must face challenges and forge ahead.

This International Women’s Week Sarasvàti brings you ten engaging stories on the theme of “Starting Over.”

“Character is defined by the choices you make at junctures like these”, said Angie St. Mars co-writer of two pieces, “this year’s Cabaret showcases tangible women characters who define themselves in the moments you see played out before you. It’s exciting and scary and empowering all at once.”

After receiving an amazing array of selections from across Canada, we are honoured to share the final line-up and list of writers. This year our writing contributors include playwrights, poets, and young film makers. With a desire to reflect diverse voices and newcomer experiences our team also worked with women to put their stories in to monologue form.

Take a peek at what we have in store and check out our website for full descriptions.

  • The Pit by Alissa Watson
  • Questions and Answers by Sonya Ballantyne
  • Aabamii (Rise Up) by Madison Thomas
  • Wild Orchid by Bev Brenna
  • Three Totems by Natalie Frijia
  • Places that have no names by Fauzia Rafique
  • Diaspora by Angie St. Mars and Alka Kumar
  • You Say Tomato, I Say…Fine by Angie St. Mars from a story gathered through interviews
  • Lost Girls by Hope McIntyre with the women of IIWR-MB
    Performed and Choreographed by Sydney Macfarlane
  • In My Country by Hope McIntyre with the women of IIWR-MB

Get your tickets now. Performances on March 11 at 4pm and 8pm at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Contact Erin at touring@sarasvati.ca to book a performance at your community venue and stay tuned as we announce the actors!

 

 

Starting From Scratch – Stories of Starting Over

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“I don’t deserve this,” she thought as she arrived at the Winnipeg airport to a crowd of greeters with coats, mitts and open arms. The memory brings tears to her eyes. She felt so much love. She did not choose to come to Winnipeg, she fled persecution. Now it is her home.

Home is defined by so much more than a fixed address. As record numbers of people settle in Winnipeg they bring with them an incredible array of stories. Each story is unique; including the reasons for coming to Winnipeg and the obstacles met upon arrival. Starting Over, the theme of this year’s International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues poses many questions about new beginnings, among these questions is, “when does Winnipeg become home?”

Sarasvàti artists have been working with newcomer women through interviews and workshops in order to get to the heart of what it means to start over.  We’ve spoken to women individually, many of whom were put in touch with us through the Institute for International Women’s Rights – Manitoba. We feel privileged to hear these stories and to work with real women to share their experiences on stage.

“Although starting over can happen in many ways, transitioning to a new country is huge. These women are incredibly strong,” Artistic Director Hope McIntyre shares after conducting interviews. “The theme this year has allowed us to showcase incredible true stories, as well as written pieces by established playwrights tackling life-changing events.”

Photos from the International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues 2016: Stolen Sisters

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As with every year, we plan to tour selections throughout community venues across the city. We are looking forward to providing a platform for the stories of newcomer women and sharing them with both their community and the larger Manitoba community.

Whether starting over in a new country, a new relationship, or a new chapter of your life, this year’s Cabaret includes an incredibly diverse collection of life-changing moments as experienced by women.

Stay tuned for more details on this year’s selections that we guarantee will move and delight you! Be sure to mark March 11th in your calendar so you don’t miss the full public performances at either 4pm or 8pm. Tickets available here.

Opening with a Bang!

With aerial acrobatics, high-energy contemporary dance, and the side-splitting comedic offerings of Winnipeg’s funniest performers, it’s no doubt Sarasvàti knows how to throw a party!

FemFest 2016: Transformation kicks off with the FemFest Opening Night Cabaret. The annual variety show is jam-packed with some of the most talented entertainers this city has to offer; everything from music, dance, comedy, theatre and film. Now, feast your eyes and ears on the incredibly entertaining line-up of the FemFest 2016 Opening Night Cabaret!

Lara Rae, Comedian/Host – Guiding you through the evening’s festivities will be stand-up comedian and Winnipeg Comedy Fest Artistic Director, Lara Rae.

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Comedian Lara Rae, Photo:Ruth Bonneville

Lara Rae is the founding Artistic Director of the Winnipeg Comedy Festival. She was the Just For Laughs National Champion at the Homegrown Comedy Competition in Montreal in 2000 and won a Gemini Award and Prix Roma Prize from Italy for her work on Little Mosque on the Prairie. She is a regular instructor at the McNally Robinson Community classroom on opera, comedy and various genres of literature. She’ll be bringing the cabaret a taste of her signature wit and we couldn’t be happier to have her.

Robyn Slade & co., 50/50  – Serving up a delightful dash of improv-theatre fusion is Robyn Slade & co. With 50/50, one actor memorizes lines from a unique play and is paired with an improviser who has no idea what their partner has rehearsed. This combo is sure to bring hilarious and unexpected entertainment.

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Crash Site by Sonya Ballantyne

Sonya Ballantyne, Filmmaker, Crash Site – Originally from Misipawistik Cree Nation, Ballantyne is a self-proclaimed nerd whose work is infused with iconic comic book colours and feel. A graduate of the National Screen Institute New Voices program, Ballantyne uses her films to address issues facing aboriginal women and girls. She’ll be presenting a screening of her new animated film, Crash Site, about a young girl who meets a superhero.

Raye Anderson, Pearl in the Egg- Enjoy a solo performance by theatre artist and former theatre educator, Raye Anderson. She’ll present her new piece, Pearl in the Egg. The work combines storytelling, spoken word and visual arts to reclaim the power of older women storytellers and their stories.

Alissa Watson and Spenser Payne, Buzzkill and Tattletale in: You Win Some, You Lose Most – The Winnipeg clown duo behind The Red Nose Diaries is spending the summer entertaining the masses at the Winnipeg and Edmonton Fringe Fests with THE POLKA DOTS OF DEATH: The Making of the Supervillain. The duo makes their triumph return at the opening cabaret with Buzzkill and Tattletale in: You Win Some, You Lose Most.

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Lost, Dancer: Jillian Groening Photo: Bruce Monk

Gearshifting, Lost – Contemporary dance company Gearshifting will be storming the stage with their intricately moving piece, Lost. Featuring dancers Jillian Groening, Elise Page and Carol-Ann Bohrn with choreography by Jolene Bailie, the audience will surely be mesmerized by the poetry hidden in human movement.

Jennifer Genest, Break the Silence – Genest will light up the night with her famous LED glow poi dance. Genest creates dramatic, colourful images in darkened spaces through her use of rhythmical movements and geometric patterns. Infusing her routine with contemporary dance, Break the Silence, will be an awe-inspiring show.

Ruth Baines, Wolf Woman – Bringing a different exploration of physical storytelling, is aerial artist Ruth Baines. Baines is known for her beloved blend of theatrical aerial dance and monologue. Presenting her latest gravity-defying act, Wolf Woman, Baines will be treating the audience to sky-high entertainment.

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Wolf Woman, Ruth Baines. Photo: Leif Norman

The entertainment doesn’t stop there. Throughout the evening, the lobby will be packed with amazing artwork from local visual artists, Teresa-Lee Cooke, Debbie Machula and Susan Aydan Abbott. We’ll also have work by graphic artist Autumn Crossman-Serb, whose comics feature Muslims and women of colour as protagonists.

And lastly, it wouldn’t be a party without treats and the chance to mingle and meet the artists, so of course we have that too. We’ll have delectable dainties and delicious food with an array of fun-filled raffle prizes from vendors across the city.

Stay tuned for more artists and news to be announced.

FemFest 2016 Opening Night Cabaret takes place September 17, 2016 at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (University of Winnipeg). Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at femfest.ca or by calling 204-586-2336.