The Endowment Fund aka The Gift that Keeps Giving!

Back in 2007 a very supportive donor wanted to give us a lasting gift, and with the support of the Winnipeg Foundation we set up our endowment fund. This fund has been a huge support over the years helping us continue to create the work that we do. If you’ve ever thought of donating, now is the perfect time. Until November 30th any donations will be eligible for matching funds through the Endowment Incentive Program!

All gifts to our endowment fund are pooled and are permanently invested as capital, and the income earned is provided to us to continue to produce our annual productions. This creates a stable form of future income to ensure that we are able to continue realizing our artistic goals. Artistic goals that include: making our work accessible to the communities that we work with, supporting emerging artists, and promoting stories from marginalized groups. We can’t rely as heavily on box office revenue as other companies since many of the people we want to welcome to our shows have limited disposable income. We firmly belief that this shouldn’t be a barrier to viewing and participating in theatre.

Here are the top 5 ways the fund has helped us in the past! It has helped us to:

1. Create forum theatre pieces to empower youth around Manitoba:

Giving Voice - The Perfect Family

Giving Voice – The Perfect Family

From Ripple Effect to No Offense… to Diss to this year’s Giving Voice, we have been bringing powerful stories of school violence, racism, and bullying to thousands of students in Manitoba to encourage the discovery of positive solutions. So far Giving Voice has been called “a smashing hit” and an “excellent, excellent show” with amazing student and staff responses.

2. Produce a festival that showcases and celebrates female theatre artists:

The Naked Woman - Nan Fewchuk and Grant Burr

FemFest 2014 – The Naked Woman – Nan Fewchuk and Grant Burr

This year we celebrated the 12th annual FemFest, a festival of life changing theatre by women for everyone. Despite some great plays by women in Manitoba last year, the national statistics for last season reveal that only 23% of plays on Canadian stages were written by women. FemFest continues to support a future where female theatre artists are given equal opportunities.

3. Support emerging theatre artists: It can be a very uncertain world out there in the theatre industry when you are just starting out, we strive to make it less so by offering affordable skill development workshops and opportunities for emerging artists to work with us. We always offer workshops as a part of FemFest, but the past few years we have been working on offering workshop series during the rest of the season too!

Catherine Banks

Catherine Banks

4. Premiere ground-breaking new works: For our spring productions we seek out and develop interesting new works for a full scale production. Past productions include Eden, Jail Baby and last year’s sell out Fefu and Her Friends. This year we are premiering Miss’N Me, the latest play from two-time Governor General Award winning playwright Catherine Banks.

5. Create community-based work: We are excited to work with amazing community organizations who help to make Winnipeg vibrant, supportive and healthy. In the past we have worked with criminalized women through the Elizabeth Fry Society, with Winnipeg Harvest to tour Empty, with youth in care, with immigrant woman…and we are about to embark on our next long-term project exploring mental health in partnership with Red Threads Playback Theatre and the Selkirk Mental Health Centre. It is a timely issue and we know that everyone is touched in some way by mental health issues. We are excited to embark on this new journey!

If you want to help us continue to do all of this and more, please consider donating to our endowment fund. Click here to see our profile on the Winnipeg Foundation website. From here you can make an online gift, but if you’d rather donate by cheque or credit card over the phone, click here for those instructions! If you have any questions feel free to phone or email us: 204-586-2236, info@sarasvati.ca

Playwright’s Log – Opening Night

Opening night – an exciting, anxiety-ridden and thrilling experience for a playwright. Sometimes I think we must be masochists. It is a nerve-wracking experience watching your play performed on opening night. After years of work, hours and hours of laboring over the script, several readings and workshops… you finally find out if it works when it is before a live audience. You put it out there, your creation, for the world to judge.

Being the artistic director of the company as well as the playwright meant I had plenty of distractions the day of opening – dealing with the reception and final marketing. It also means I’ve had to wear two hats during the process and ultimately worry about both the script and the production as a whole. Lots of support from our great team though!

EDEN nightmare footage by Jordan Popowich

We certainly had a great audience to kick off the run! A full house with several of the company’s supporters and friends willing us to do well. The actors really shone and were able to feed off of that positive energy. The technical elements ran smoothly, despite the fact that the video had randomly decided to stop working mere moments before show time. Our tech genius, Chris Coyne, trouble-shot once again all the while remaining calm. It was up and running for performance. It’s amazing what he has been able to pull off in terms of video sequencing with the footage our video designer Jordan Popowich has provided.

Chris, along with myself and the director, chose to watch from the balcony. Removed from the audience so we wouldn’t need to expose everyone to our nervous energy. We all breathed a sigh of relief when it ran smoothly. Now just the rest of the run to go!

It felt great to see the play out there and all the components together. It’s thrilling, but you still second guess and see things that you may want to tweak down the road. What a crazy business this is! I can’t wait to see how the rest of the audiences respond.

EDEN Feature – Ti Hallas

Ti Hallas had the chance to travel to Australia this month, but instead chose to stay in Winnipeg in order to perform in EDEN. She plays Stacy, the Minister of Labour, who is forced to question her life choices. Here are her responses to our questionnaire:

1. What is one thing every actor needs to know? It’s not about you.

2. What does every great story have to have? Guts.

3. What is your favourite word?  I love words. Today my favourite is smooch.

4. If I could grant you a single wish, what would it be? A compassionate planet.

Complete the sentences:

5. If I wasn’t typing this email interview right now, I would be… on my way to Australia.

6. The most surprising thing that happened to me was… moving back to Winnipeg.

7. A common misconception of me is… that I don’t like to party. I do!

8. You know me as a actor but in truer life I’d have been… Jane Goodall II.

Ti Hallas as Stacy in EDEN; photo by Janet Shum

Ti co-founded Chinook Theatre which toured throughout western Canada and produced Canada’s first Fringe Theatre Festival in Edmonton. During her 10 years with Chinook, Ti was actor, director, playwright, stage-manager, tour-coordinator and General Manager. Ti has worked in television as actor, narrator, host and broadcast journalist, for the NFB, the CBC, and the Alberta Access Network, for CBC radio, and in numerous industrial films. She has documentary and docudrama writing credits.   She holds professional teaching certificates for three provinces and has taught Acting, Dance and Voice at various institutions including Grant MacEwan and Laurentian Universities.   Since returning to Winnipeg Ti has performed in AlbeeFest, TremblayFest, and FemFest, toured with Green Kids and performed in several independent film productions, commercials and fundraisers. She is a longstanding member of CAEA and ACTRA, has served as Councilor for ACTRA MB for 8 years and sits on the Community Outreach Committee for PAL Winnipeg.

EDEN Feature – Tracy Penner

Tracy is a new addition to EDEN, but a very welcome addition. She plays Delilah, a character who struggles to survive and find a better life. Tracy likes to keep rehearsals entertaining with her quick wit and talent for puns. She thought these questions were tricky to answer:

1. What is one thing every actor needs to know? How to listen.

2. What does every great story have to have? Conflict.

3. What is your favourite word? Supercalifragilisticexpealidotious.

4. If I could grant you a single wish, what would it be? World peace.

Complete the sentences:

5. If I wasn’t typing this email interview right now, I would be… serving.

6. The most surprising thing that happened to me was… becoming an actor.

7. A common misconception of me is… that I might be something other than normal.

8. You know me as a actor but in truer life I’d have been… a clown.

Tracy Penner as Delilah in EDEN; photo by Janet Shum

Tracy is thrilled to take part in Sarasvàti’s world premiere of EDEN! Other Winnipeg companies Tracy’s worked with include Zone 41 (Village Wooing at ShawFest 2012), Theatre Projects Manitoba, MTC, SIR, WJT, and Dancing Hen Productions. She’s worked in Edmonton with Catalyst Theatre, Shadow Theatre, Concrete Theatre and many others. Tracy is a graduate of the University of Alberta.

EDEN Promo Video Just Released

We are extremely excited to share our new promo video for the world premiere of EDEN by Hope McIntyre, April 27 to May 13. It’s a great sneak peek and beautifully shot by Jordan Popowich.

For full info on the play and to book tickets go to the EDEN webpage.

EDEN Rehearsal Blog – Hope McIntyre

First week of rehearsals are complete! It’s been an amazing start to the process. At the meet and greet the rehearsal hall was full, several tables surrounded by actors, designers and production team members. It is both rewarding and scary to think all these people are here because I wrote a play.

After a week workshop in January, I’ve been rewriting in whatever spare time I had with the excellent guidance of dramaturg Rick Chafe. His attention to detail is amazing, but he’s also been a great cheerleader – giving encouragement to keep me from feeling overwhelmed. Terrence McNally once said that writing is a supreme act of self-confidence. It does certainly take a lot of guts, particularly to keep working through the fog hoping that in the end things will be clear. Since November, the entire structure of the play has changed. It took a lot to let go of the former skin of the play. To find that balance between letting go of what is not working but to hold on to what I know deep down is vital to the story. Then at the reading on Tuesday to hear yet another completely reworked version and to hope that it works. You think it does but you listen to each word watching for reactions, hoping you’ve made it better not worse. The laughter, at the right spots, are so comforting. Then afterwards just a couple of script notes from Rick and director Sharon Bajer – much better than the pages and pages of notes from the previous months!

Terrence McNally also said you have to love your collaborators. What’s not to love about the great group we have! Not only are they talented artists but they care enough to really think about the piece, provide insights and ask really great questions. Plus they’re fun to be around! Even rehearsing over Easter weekend was made less of a chore when Andrea del Campo, who plays Evelyn, decided to organize an Easter egg hunt over lunch.

Director Sharon Bajer and actor Tracy Penner on lunch break

As a playwright watching director Sharon Bajer clarify each moment with the actors is so valuable. Her experience as an actor and playwright really feeds into her work as a director. She’s not even overwhelmed by the fact we have a lot of video to shoot for the play, Cree translation, technical challenges and a tight rehearsal schedule.

Paula Vogel recommends that the playwright not answer questions directly in the workshop and rehearsal process. Of course the actors keep asking them though. I work hard to listen and observe, to see what they get from the script before explaining anything. I’m much more interested in their choices and discoveries than in telling them what I intended. It’s the only way to find out if the script is off the mark.

Okay, yes, it has been an exhausting week with some final script massaging and tweaking. It meant having to ignore everything else for a while, but it is so exciting to see it coming to life! It is a joy to see the work of our amazing design team, to see the actors finding a way to deliver each moment so effectively and to also continue the investigation of the themes that propelled me to spend seven years working on this piece.

Check out the EDEN webpage for tickets and info.

Kevin Anderson as Ophidian in video by Jordan Popowich

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