Looking Back on a Remarkable Year

Wow! It’s hard to believe how much can happen in a year. This week we look back on our greatest endeavours of 2017 made possible due to the amazing support of our donors, funders, volunteers, artists and community partners!

  • Theatre Workshops with North End Youth

We launched into 2017 with a focused series of theatre workshops for North End youth. Youth Coordinators Frances Koncan and Cherrel Holder alongside a series of guest artists introduced theatre techniques and worked on scenes with youth. On February 22nd we celebrated with a showcase of the youth involved. We have already heard from multiple youth that they have decided to pursue theatre and we have had the pleasure of continuing to work with these youth in skill-focused workshops and mentorship sessions. We are thrilled to be continuing with a series of theatre workshops at Children of the Earth School in the New Year!

“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to study theatre but now I’m sure!” – Sabil, Youth Participant

  • International Women’s Week

Last March, ten amazing women took to the stage in our International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues. The theme was Starting Over, sharing stories of displacement, resettlement and life-changing moments. We toured to new community venues like North End Family Centre. We were so honoured to facilitate the sharing of these crucial perspectives which are all too often silenced.

“The performances took place in our typically very busy and noisy drop in space. However, the performances were so captivating that you could have heard a pin drop!”
-Kristi Beaune, Mount Carmel Clinic
“Our students connected with what the presenters were saying on a deep level. I would highly recommend the monologues.”
-Rob Visch, Principal St. Aidan’s Christian School

  • Launch of New Beginnings15781754_10211121667098878_6849065531477230353_n

We used the story-gathering conducted for International Women’s Week as a spring board to soar into our next community-based project: New Beginnings. We began reaching out to artists and meeting with partner organizations. In September, we gave audiences a sneak peek at what we have in the works at a FemFest preview. From May 22-27, 2018 you can witness the coming together of a diverse range of artists, community members, recent newcomers and established immigrants. Through the use of dance, music, visual art and storytelling we will share stories of resettlement.

“Great evening at FemFest and Sarasvati production of New Beginnings! Congratulations to Rosemary Kezaabu and Gertrude Hambira, two of the women who told their stories.” – Mary Scott, Audience Member
“It was such a wonderful night yesterday! So glad I was able to participate in this project.” – Patricia Gordon, Performer

  • FemFest 2017: Coming of Age

This FemFest audiences and artists came together to celebrate 15 years of life-changing theatre.  We were proud to present such provocative touring shows as Watching Glory Die by Judith Thompson. We had some incredible first-times, partnering with the West End Cultural Centre to present Tomboy Survival Guide and partnering with the Millennium Library to present The Human Library! It was so rewarding to offer filmmaker Sonya Ballantyne her first opportunity to direct for the stage with Two Indians. We were proud to honour some of Winnipeg’s most prolific female playwrights at the One Night Stand and toast to 15 years. Believe it or not planning has already begun for FemFest 2018!

“…one of the most incredible and moving pieces of art I have ever seen” – Tatiana Carnevale, Audience Member at Tomboy Survival Guide at FemFest 2017
“Wow. I have not been so moved by a piece of theatre for a long time” – Cheryl Costen, Audience Member at Watching Glory Die at FemFest 2017

  • Second Annual Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser

Thanks to two fantastic audiences and eight hilarious comedians we almost sold out two back-to-back shows for our Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser. We heard nothing but glowing remarks from audience members. We can’t wait for next year!

“Awesome” – Audience Member
“Everyone is so talented!” – Audience Member

  • Workshops for Emerging Artists

    This season we’ve provided workshops and mentorship in theatre design, tech, directing, auditioning and more! One of the highlights was our playwriting masterclass with master playwright, Judith Thompson. We aren’t slowing down anytime soon! You can look forward to workshops in vocal technique, auditioning , dramaturgy and more in 2018!

    “Extremely beneficial. Going through the audition process (before, during, after) has made me feel that I have a much better idea of how the process works, especially with professional companies.” – Participant in Auditioning 101
    “All of it was pure gold.”
    – Participant in Coffee with Ann Hodges

We also rebooted our One Night Stand series with three opportunities throughout the year for playwrights to test material under the amazing leadership of Tatiana Carnevale!

  • COMMUNITY

This year also allowed us to work with several amazing community organizations. From doing workshops with youth leaders at SEED to presenting an overview of our work for the Council of Women of Winnipeg and PCWM. The largest initiative was the amazing experience preparing Can You See Me Now in partnership with West Central Women’s Resource Centre.  The women shared their experience of homelessness with such power that it truly opened eyes and hearts.

Here’s to another year of making and experiencing tranformative theatre together!

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Talking Comedy with Kate Schellenberg

Kate Schellenberg - Headshot (2)So far this year Kate Schellenberg has performed at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, Oddblock Comedy Festival and Rumor’s Comedy Club. After being a stand-out in the Rumor’s Roast Battle, Kate began producing and hosting her own Roast Off at Wee Johnny’s. She was recently named one of CBC Manitoba’s Future 40 young change-makers. We are so glad to have this unstoppable force of comedy in our Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser on November 15th.

Why do you do stand-up comedy?

KS: Because telling jokes to my house plants stopped being fulfilling after a while and my parents started screening my calls. Honestly, I think it is a special gift when you can make people laugh and bring them joy. There is a special connection you make with people when you make them laugh and I love the feeling I get when I do.

What drives you to talk about the things you talk about on stage?

KS: I mostly talk about dating, my mom and the embarrassing things that happen to me on a daily basis. I talk about these things on stage because I think so many people take themselves too seriously and are afraid to be vulnerable (myself included!) I love challenging myself to laugh about a really bad date or feeling too hairy. I think it opens up other people to talk more about these things in real life.

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Kate hosting the Wee Johnny’s Roast Off

What are you looking forward to about the women’s comedy night fundraiser?

KS: Probably the jello shots that I will bring and invite the other comedians to take with me! Any show that features a lot of female comedians always has an amazing energy and vibe that the comedians feel but the crowd also picks up on, it makes the night more enjoyable for everyone!  Secondly, it’s great to help support organizations that are actively working for good change in the performing arts world.

What would you say to someone who has never been to a Winnipeg comedy show?

KS: Comedy fans, if you have never been to a show that features all female and female-identifying comedians, do yourself a favor, come! Every comic on this show is a real heavy-hitter and will be bringing their a-game (is that enough sports metaphors for you?) Come see these comedians do their best stuff and support a great cause!

Our second annual Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser is at the King’s Head Pub and tickets are just $15! The early show at 7pm is just about SOLD OUT and the 9:30pm racier show is starting to fill up as well. Get those tickets!

Talking Comedy with Danielle Kayahara

The Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser brings you eight hilarious comedians with eight diverse comedic styles. Danielle Kayahara did her first ever open mic this past May. Her unique blend of honest observation and storytelling made her an instant favourite among crowds and comedians alike. Since then, Danielle has been lighting up stages all over Winnipeg, including being featured in the Winnipeg Comedy Festival’s Comedy All Year: Winnipeg Women.  This week, we talked comedy with the undeniably funny Danielle Kayahara.

What drives you to talk about the things you talk about on stage?

Danielle Kayahara - HeadshotDK: I think too much and I worry too much, I’m not sure I could keep that off of the stage if I tried. I like finding silliness in everyday experiences because it takes some of the seriousness out of the world. Sometimes it means over analyzing etiquette, other times it’s pointing out flaws in technology, sometimes it means anthropomorphizing my cat, and other times it’s confessing that I had to Google “anthropomorphizing” to make sure I knew what it meant and could spell it properly. I’m drawn toward the idea that we’re all more alike than we realize, and as strange or exaggerated as a joke might be, I like to think there’s still something relatable at its core.

Why stand up comedy?

DK: That’s a question I ask myself all the time! It’s terrifying and anxiety-inducing but for some reason, I keep coming back. There’s something magical about bringing people together in a moment of laughter and shared understanding. As a fan of comedy, I’ve always loved those moments and now I do what I can to try and create them.

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Danielle Kayahara on stage at Winnipeg Comedy Festival’s Comedy All Year: Winnipeg Women

What are you looking forward to about the Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser?

DK: I’m looking forward to having a chance to perform alongside some amazingly talented comedians and all for a great cause. I’ve been lucky enough to find my voice through comedy, Sarasvàti Productions helps give a voice to meaningful stories which might otherwise go unheard.

What would you say to someone who has NEVER been to a Winnipeg comedy show?

DK: To those who have never been to a Winnipeg comedy show, I was like you once. I didn’t even know that Winnipeg had comedy shows. I didn’t know that I could spend an evening watching a show and giggling uncontrollably in a fantastic pub environment. Now, I regret that I was kept in the dark for so long! To those who are fans of comedy, I feel as though there isn’t much to say. I know that as a fan, if I didn’t have the honor of performing at this show, I’d already have my ticket. Either way, come check out this show, support an awesome cause, bring your friends, enjoy some drinks and laugh all of the laughs.

The Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser sold out last year. Get your tickets in advance!
Womens Comedy Night Fundraiser 2017

Spring into FemFest 2017 with a daring Cabaret

We absolutely love launching into FemFest with a dazzling Cabaret showcase of some of the most talented entertainers this city has to offer. The Cabaret has it all: everything from music, dance, comedy, theatre, film and a party to follow! Come and celebrate the launch of our 15th annual FemFest with us and enjoy this unstoppable line up of entertainment.

Cabaret BUNNY Now

BUNNY

Arguably Winnipeg’s best all-female-90’s-R&B-comedy-ukulele-duo, Bunny members B-Rabbit and HunnyBunny’s charming and unapologetic attitude will take you by surprise. This is the perfect duo to host the opening Cabaret, singing about everything from Instagram to networking to unsatisfying sex, this disarming pair doesn’t shy away from taboo subjects and real-life problems.

Opening Cabaret

Prairie Caravan Tribal Bellydancers

The awe-inspiring Prairie Caravan Tribal Bellydancers are back to entertain at another Cabaret! “Our women are a gorgeous mix of sizes, ages, and certainly personalities, but that is the beauty of Tribal”, says the troupe. “We are proud to say our troupe represents FIVE decades of age ranges among our ladies, proving that age is only a state of mind.”

Cabaret ChimwemweUndi - FemFest 2

Chimwemwe Undi

Chimwemwe Undi is a local poet and linguist, who has performed across Canada and the UK, and has been published widely. We’ve been hoping Chim would be in town for the Cabaret for a couple years now and we are so excited to have finally have her here to perform for all of you!

Phenomenal talents RobYn Slade and Jane Testar of Outside Joke take you on the wildly fun, unpredictable ride that is 50/50 Improv-Theatre Fusion. Actors have learned their half of the scene while talented improvisers go in blind. Audiences watch as each unlikely pair creates non-stop entertainment that will never be seen again.

Cabaret 5050 RobYn Slade Jane Testar

RobYn Slade and Jane Testar

Cabaret Logan Jax

Logan Jax

Logan Jax is a Cabaret past fave! Born on the day of Elvis, Logan took his first steps back in May 2015. Now, Logan is exploring his new voice and the world around him as his authentic self. Logan is writing, but not by way of music. Logan is writing policy that would protect transgender inmates from discrimination and violence in Manitoba prisons. While Logan isn’t busy smashing the patriarchy, he’s cuddling with his beautiful daughter who lights his life.

 

Cabaret Dianna Rasing Now

“I am a Sign Language Interpreter (by day) and have not done enough Stand Up to even call myself a stand-up comedian!”, says Dianna Rasing. But the audiences who saw Rasing’s breakout stand up set at Sick & Twisted’s Lame Is… a disability cabaret would say otherwise! Although brand new to stand up, Dianna’s sense of humour shines strong. You might also recognize her from the 2016 Winnipeg Fringe Festival where she wrote & performed Seducing Father Brian.

 

Cabaret CharleneMoore-Now

Charlene Moore

Charlene Moore is the director and producer of Moccasin Stories as well as a masters student of the Indigenous Governance program at the University of Winnipeg . “Moccasin Stories is my way of educating Manitoba on the reason for loss of this skillful craft”, says Moore, “[of] how this skill is coming back, and how resourceful, skillful, strong, and powerful Indigenous women are.” We are thrilled to give you a sneak peek of this awesome new film.

Ady Kay, Emily Solstice and Victoria Emilie Hill combine forces to perform Green.  Ady and Victoria are recent graduates of the Honours Acting Program at the U of W, and have continued to work together on projects such as The Patriarchy, their two-woman Acapella band.  Emily Solstice is a dancer in the School of Contemporary Dancers Senior Professional Program and has worked as a choreographer and performer in Winnipeg and across Canada.   They aspire to create meaningful movement based work and collaborate with other artists working in various mediums.

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Cabaret Connie Chappel-Now

Connie Chappel

Visual art joins our Cabaret thanks to MAWA. Connie Chappel’s piece Away from the Dark is a mixed media assemblage sculpture composed of familiar forms that reference the natural landscape and investigate life cycles through connections of fragments that transform from one material, structure or state to another.  Away from the Dark will be displayed in the theatre all evening.

Mindy and Marge are worldly travellers! The nomadic duo has done so much travelling that they feel it is their duty to pass on their wisdom to others. You may have already received expert travel advice from them if you saw Tourology: A Mindy and Marge Adventure as part of the Winnipeg and Edmonton Fringe Festivals in 2015, or Iceology: A Mindy and Marge Adventure as part of One Trunk Theatre’s Dollhouse of Commons last winter. Now enjoy Worldly Rituals: A Mindy and Marge Presentation at the Cabaret!

Stick around and mingle over pizza generously supplied by Garbonzo’s at the U of W AnX and wine from The Winehouse at our reception party after the show. We can’t wait to launch FemFest 2017 with you!

Back with a Vengeance – the One Night Stand makes a triumphant return

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The ensemble cast and Director, Kim Kakegamic take a bow

Six short plays, a responsive audience and valuable feedback! We were excited to offer our re-boot of the One Night Stand Series on February 2nd thanks to the support of PTE Theatre and Film School. Under the guidance of event producer Tatiana Carnevale, seven actors brought to life the works on progress with director Kim Kakegamic. The series is designed to give an enticing taste of new theatre and leave audiences wanting more. In just over an hour everyone enjoyed a taste of comedy, suspense, and wit. By the end of the evening, there was definitely food for thought and some new favourite artists to look out for!

“It was a great chance to see work by novice and experienced playwrights.”
– Andrea Geary, audience member.

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Adrianna Koller and Rachel Smith read ‘Cherries’, an adaptation of Chekov’s “The Cherry Orchard”, written by Per Brask

After the event playwrights were provided with audience feedback so they can continue their work on the pieces. Hearing dialogue out loud and seeing how audiences is respond is integral to the writing process.

“Amazing job, everyone! And for those involved in [my piece], thank you so much for helping me bring that world to life… Truly an inspirational night!” – Marjorie Roden, a featured playwright in last Tuesday’s One Night Stand.

“It was a great evening of theatre with so much variety and imaginative stories!”
– Craig Russell, featured playwright.

Join us for the next One Night Stand, March 2nd 7:30pm at the Colin Jackson Studio.
The theme is Student Night: presenting stand-out work by students from PTE Theatre and Film School, the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg. Stay tuned for the announcement of this formidable line-up!

“Thanks for a fun, fabulous, very satisfying One Night Stand everyone!! What a great evening.” – Kimberly Kakegamic, Director

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Starting from Scratch with a cast of expert story-tellers

This 2017 International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues is over-flowing with talent! Check out part two of our feature on the stellar cast.

Just off the Manitoba school tour of Sarasvàti’s Shattered, Reena Jolly has delved right back into work with us for the Cabaret. She will be performing “You Say Tomato, I say Goodbye”, a piece she resonates personally with about a difficult conversation with first-generation newcomer parents. Reena has been working hard on mastering an accent for this piece and we can’t wait to see it come to life!

Kim Kakegamic made an impact in last year’s Cabaret as an outrageous game show host. In fact this will be her third year doing a monologue for this event! Here’s something that you probably didn’t know: Kim loves geocaching and feels the exact opposite about slow-walkers. This Cabaret, Kim performs a gut-wrenching comedic piece, “The Pit” by Alissa Watson.

Brand new to the Sarasvàti team is Anjali Sandhu. Anjali studied stand-up and improv with Second City Toronto. You can see her regularly around town performing improv and stand-up comedy. Anjali will be performing a provocative and poetic monologue by Fauzia Rafique in this year’s Cabaret, called “Places that have no names.”

Nalini Reddy is also new to Sarasvàti, but is no stranger to the stage. She studied theatre in the Black Hole at the U of MB, performed in several fundraising productions for the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre (the annual joint RMTC-MB Bar Association show), been a performing member of Manohar Performing Arts. She’s even had her own band! Nalini will be performing, “Disapora”, the story of a woman struggling to define home while splitting her life between Winnipeg and Delhi.

You’ll remember Sydney MacFarlene from last year’s Cabaret of monologues; she was the only one who did not speak throughout her entire piece! Sydney is a devoted dancer who’s always on the move. She has been developing choreography as part of an oral-telling of a Lost Girl from South Sudan for this year’s Cabaret. During the week you’ll find her studying Kinesiology and tap-dancing under her desk.

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 have coffee with any person who has ever existed, who would it be?
    Nalini: Vandana Shiva
    Reena
    : God. I have a few questions I’d like to ask.
    Anjali: Vincent Van Gogh (This is a lie, my true answer is Taylor Swift)
  • Who is a local woman that inspires you?
    Anjali: Pam Oberman
    Kim: My co-worker Rosalyn Boucha (who is also an amazing artist) – she is smart, creative, and aspires to learn something new everyday.
    Sydney: There isn’t just one local woman who inspires me, I find inspiration in every woman I meet. They each have their own unique stories and advice that I definitely learn from.
    Nalini: Fiona Smith
    Reena: My mum hands down. She is incredibly smart and perceptive. She has a great sense of humor and makes me laugh all the time. She is extremely hard working and never gives up. My mum is a real life wonder woman.
  • If you could wake up tomorrow with any new skill, what would it be?
    Nalini: Super-memory
    Anjali: Mind control or singing.
    Kim: Drawing
    Sydney: I would want to be able to memorize information just by reading it, I always have to write things out and it can be quite time-consuming.
  • If you had to start over again in a new place, where would you want to go?
    Sydney: If I had to start over again, I would be in the Caribbean or somewhere in South America.
    Kim: If I could speak Swedish I’d pick Sweden. It’s where my mom’s family is from and those Nordic countries seem like pretty fabulous places to live. On this side of the ocean? Honestly, probably Regina. Haha! I’ve started over twice there before and maybe third time’s the charm!
    Reena: New Orleans. The music and art are so vibrant! Plus, they have rich history and the food would be amazing. I’ve never been there… but, I saw The Princess and the Frog one time and wanted to move there instantly.

We are enjoying getting into the rehearsal process with this amazing cast. We look forward to sharing women’s stories on a theme we can all relate to: Starting Over.  For more info on the pieces, or to get tickets visit our website!

 

Going Above and Beyond in 2017!

Happy New Year! We are excited to announce our goals for 2017! We aim to break new ground and cover uncharted territory in order to realize our vision of transforming society through theatre. Check out what we are setting our sights on this year:

1.PROMOTE DIVERSITY ON THE STAGE

If you think the Equity in Theatre stats on women in the industry have a long way to go, wait until you see the stats on diversity. Promoting diversity in the local theatre scene generates growth, equity and human understanding within the arts community and audiences.  We are proud to produce a season of theatre and workshops that respond to the lack of equity on Canadian stages proactively. January 11th marks the launch of our second round of free theatre workshops for Indigenous and newcomer youth in Winnipeg’s North End.  This March, we highlight the stories of newcomer women throughout International Women’s Week with the 2017 Cabaret of Monologues: Starting Over.

 

2. SUPPORT EMERGING ARTISTS

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Coffee with a Pro

After successfully piloting Coffee with a Pro, an informal mentorship series that sets emerging artists up with an established artist in their field to talk shop over coffee, we look forward to expanding the series into even more disciplines in 2017.

We have received ample requests for an Audition workshop geared to those who have never auditioned before. This Spring, Hope McIntyre will facilitate just that with Auditioning 101. Stay tuned for details.

3. HAVE SOME FUN AND RAISE SOME FUNDS

audience-shotWe’re rolling into uncharted territory with a brand new fundraising event. On April 9th at Academy Lanes some of the most well-known CEO’s and business leaders in Winnipeg will square-off in a Strike-a-Thon with pledges and proceeds going to Sarasvàti Productions.

Plus last year’s Women’s Comedy Night was such a success that we can’t wait for round two in the fall of 2017!

4. BUST BARRIERS

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Staged reading of Breaking Through, May 2016

After over two years of community-based research, workshops, and interviews we are thrilled to present the full production of Breaking Through May 23-38, 2017.

The Mental Health is Everyone’s Health project saw Sarasvàti’s artists team up with Artists in Health Care, Red Threads Playback Theatre and the Selkirk Mental Health Centre as well as multiple community organizations and members of the public to create a play that takes a realistic look the way mental health issues affect us all. The result is a bold theatrical experience that is guaranteed to spark dialogue.

5. CELEBRATE SUCCESSES

FemFest turns 15 this year! We are working on the line-up that will appropriately celebrate our landmark festival of plays by women for everyone! You can look forward to some exciting surprises and special guest artists.

 

That’s our top 5, but when all is said and done we are basically going to produce kick-ass art and we want you to be a part of it!  Stay posted on our events by following us here!