Wishing You an Inspiring Holiday Season!

It’s been an exciting year for Sarasvàti Productions, made all the better by our incredible board members, volunteers, artistic teams and of course our great audiences! We cannot thank you enough for your ongoing assistance and encouragement. Over the holidays we want to give thanks for all of our supporters and celebrate a wonderful year!

sytyca_20140219_IMG_9166 (1024x695)

The year began with our first ever tie between two celebrities for So You Think You Can Act when Troy Westwood and Big Daddy Tazz wowed the audience with their acting skills. Who knows what this year has in store with our diverse range of celebrity guests! Will the Taz name carry good luck and bring the trophy to Taz Stuart? Will dance beat out music as RWB’s André Lewis competes against musician Romi Mayes? Or will it be a second year for a former Bomber to adorn their mantelpiece with Chris Cvetkovic? Tickets are now on sale and make great gifts for loved ones!

Group Selfie of 2014 IWW Cabaret of Monologues Actors

Group Selfie of 2014 IWW Cabaret of Monologues Actors

Last March 10 talented actors took the stage in our International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues. The theme was Rise Up, which meant the stories focused on young women. This year the theme is SuperWomen and will feature stories of women who have done incredible things! There will be a rebellious nun, a pioneering woman and an actual superhero, don’t miss it on March 7th!

Fefu Ensemble

Fefu Ensemble

We have been so pleased with the success of our annual spring production. Last year Fefu and Her Friends sold out many performances at the historic Ralph Connor House. It was a long awaited for production and the marvelous 8 women cast did an amazing job of it. This year we’re changing it up and will be bringing a completely new play to the stage in the premiere of Catherine Banks’ Miss’N Me. We can’t wait! Don’t miss Dawna’s road trip to meet Missy Elliot and all the strange characters she meets along the way.

Janis and Jujube lead the closing cabaret in song.

Janis and Jujube lead the closing cabaret in song.

Of course we rolled right in to a summer of planning FemFest 2014. Full of unforgettable moments capped by the audience sing along at the closing cabaret. Believe it or not planning has already begun for FemFest 2015: Hear Her Roar!

GV Group Shot

Giving Voice Team

We are ready for a holiday rest, after finishing off our fall with the results of our two year long collaborative production Giving Voice. We performed for over 4,400 people at 33 high schools and communities. This project was created in partnership with VOICES: Manitoba’s Youth in Care Network to help give youth in and from care a voice. Many students had their eyes opened and youth in care were empowered. It was amazing to see that show completed after years of hard work.

It has truly been a transformative year for us as we continue to challenge artists, audiences and society while promoting and reflecting diversity. Thank you all for helping to make this such a great year, and from all of us at Sarasvàti, we wish you and yours the happiest of holidays!

Advertisements

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

The Wait for Fefu Is Over!

It’s finally here: the Winnipeg premiere of Fefu and Her Friends by Maria Irene Fornes. We’re so happy to be able to bring you this exciting story that has been a theatrical dream of Sarasvàti Productions for years. And the excitement isn’t contained within the massive walls of Ralph Connor House, the play’s venue. We’ve received wonderful coverage from Winnipeg media over the past week.

Check out the previews:

CTV Morning Live

The Uniter – Thank You For Being a Friend

Winnipeg Free Press – Ladies of the House

If that isn’t enough to peak your interest, here are the Top 10 reasons why you shouldn’t miss Fefu:

  1. A story set in 1935, written in in 1977, and performed by Sarasvàti Productions in 2014: When else will you get to enjoy three eras for the price of one?
  2. For those of you interested in a Winnipeg history lesson every now and then, you can get your double dose of culture and story with Fefu and Her Friends, as the venue of the play is a Manitoba Heritage Building.
  3. Fefu and Her Friends is performed by 8 of Winnipeg’s most talented female performers, it’s directed by one of Winnipeg’s most talented directors and it was written by a world famous female playwright. What better way to experience so much female talent in 1 (okay, 4) rooms.
  4. You know when you’re watching a play and despite the fact that it’s very entertaining you feel a little restless from sitting in the same place for too long. Audience members will actually get to move around the venue, 54 West Gate, with the play.
  5. And to push the sensory experiences even further, audience members will be entertained by water and ice cube fights contained within the story of the play.
  6. For those of you who like to sneak a musical or two into your theatre schedule every year, Fefu and Her Friends doesn’t hold back from belting out a note here and there.
  7. We all secretly enjoy the sighting of a vegetable or a fruit that looks alarmingly like certain parts of the human anatomy—Fefu and Her Friends also don’t shy away from indulging in humour of all shapes and sizes.
  8. To add to the intimate nature of the play’s story, every showing of Fefu and Her Friends includes only 60 audience members.
  9. The first couple of shows are already sold out, don’t be left out of seeing this unique production.
  10. As Emma says in the play “Life is theatre. Theatre is life. If we’re showing what life is, can be, we must do theatre.”
Fefu Ensemble

Fefu Ensemble

Get your tickets before it’s too late!

Fefu – A Labour of Love

A Labour of Love by Hope McIntyre, Director

Julia and Fefu (2)“Fight!…I need you to fight.” Watching our initial run-throughs of Fefu and Her Friends, this is what stands out – the need to fight against the things that stop us from being fully alive. The need to deal with the injustice we see in the world. The need to keep struggling to improve the world we live in. A message many of us need to hear when we feel that we’ve been fighting the same battles for too long. It is a powerful and inspiring moment in the play. Of course there is so much more than this rallying cry though. The moments of great pain are immediately turned to moments of silliness, laughter and games. In her typical way, Maria Irene Fornes has confronted us with fear and allowed us to see the pleasure in the world all at once.

The performers have struggled in their own way with the deeply layered script, with the sharp changes in tone, with the magical elements that won’t line up with logical approaches. They have also found beautiful moments of connection, of longing and of course fun. With eight women in the cast, our female stage management team and a female assistant director; there is a real sense of community in the room and a lot of laughter. Emma and Julia

“Intimacy, pleasure, truthfulness, and innocence willing to be taken by surprise. These are all crucial attributes of Fornes’ theater.” – Scott Cummings

Yesterday Fornes turned 84, yet she has given us a gift with this beautiful script that we cannot wait to share with our audiences. After waiting many years to direct the play, I can truly say that I have the ideal cast, ideal venue in the beautiful Ralph Connor House and have loved immersing myself in the world of Fefu. We are one week away from opening and we want to welcome you to a different kind of theatre, one that allows for laughter and pain, struggle and discovery…Ultimately Fornes believed she showed things as they are and it was up to the audience to find ways to improve the world as a result, but her writing is also filled with moments of mischievous celebration and joy.

 

Buy your tickets for this unique experience!

Fefu and Her Friends: Final Two Talents!

Fefu FB cover pic

Have you got your tickets to the Winnipeg premiere of Fefu and Her Friends yet? Better hurry! This compelling story will come to life in just over one month and tickets are selling fast. Written in 1977 by Cuban American playwright Maria Irene Fornes, Fefu and Her Friends is recognized as a feminist piece for its use of an all-female cast, central ideas of gender roles, its bold deviation from conventional theatre and for its unique staging. It is a theatrical experience for women and men alike! On today’s blog, we are pleased to feature the final two members of our all-female cast. Tracey Nepinak will play the role of Emma and stage veteran Megan McArton will lead the cast as the one-and-only Fefu! Look familiar? You may recognize both these woman from the world premiere of Jail Baby last spring! Sarasvàti Productions is incredibly pleased to have them on board once again. Keep reading to find out more.

Tracey Nepinak - HeadshotTracey Nepinak has appeared in: Good People, The History of Manitoba from the Beginning of Time to the Present in 45 Minutes (RMTC); Jail Baby (Sarasvàti); Ernestine Shuswap Gets her Trout (Firehall Arts); The Moving Gallery: Beyond Reconciliation (Urban Indigenous Theatre); Romeo & Juliet, Silverwing, The Happy Prince (MTYP); The Rez Sisters, Great Expectations, fareWel (PTE); The Sleeping Land (Globe); Cruel & Unusual Punishment (Theatre Projects); The Crisis in Oka,Manitoba (As the Bannock Burns).

 

Megan McArton - Headshot

Megan McArton is delighted to be working on another Sarasvàti production. Her experience last year in Jail Baby was enjoyable and enriching. She has just finished performing in Harvest at PTE and is looking forward to summer.

These two local actors are keeping busy! Tracey can currently be seen in RMTC’s Good People and Megan closes PTE’s Harvest this weekend. Dying to know more? Keep reading to get the inside scoop and find out what these stars would take  with them if they were stranded on a desert island.

 

Where would you love to travel?

TRACEY: Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.
MEGAN: Australia and New Zealand.

What would you do if you won a million dollars?

TRACEY: Get off the grid.
MEGAN: Share with others.

If you were on an island and could only bring 3 things, what would they be?

TRACEY: Cigarettes, matches, chocolate covered almonds.
MEGAN: 2 friends and a box of books.

Fefu and Her Friends will run from May 22nd-June 1st inside the beautiful Ralph Connor House (54 West Gate). With only 60 seats per performance, there is no better time to book your tickets then right now. Our print-at-home ticket option makes the process incredibly simple! Did we mention you can also choose to have them mailed straight to your door? And don’t forget Mother’s Day is just around the corner on May 11th! Give the gift of live theatre to that special woman in your life. In fact, take her out for a night on the town! Grab a bite to eat, stroll down the beautiful streets of West Broadway, admire the old character homes and then catch Fefu and Her Friends! We guarantee it’ll be her most memorable gift yet.

 “I had never seen intelligence and intuition, history and character, environmental and realistic theater, narrative and experimental techniques combined in such an extraordinary way.” -Oskar Eustes

 

Fefu and Her Friends: Female Talent Galore!

Fefu FB cover pic

Murder, tea, and nightmare interrogations in a big old heritage house?!? We bet we’ve got your attention now. Sarasvàti Productions is thrilled to bring Winnipeg audiences the incredible Fefu and Her Friends by Maria Irene Fornes next month. Set in the spring of 1935, the play takes place inside a country house and takes the audience through an entire day, beginning in the morning as Fefu’s guests arrive to plan a charity event and climaxing in a murder scene in the evening. On today’s blog we are pleased to continue to introduce our incredible cast of 8 local female theatre artists! This week, meet Brenda McLean and Tracy Penner, two fabulous Winnipeg Women who are no strangers to the stage. Watch out for Brenda who will play the role of Christina and Tracy who will take on the part of Cindy in this much anticipated Winnipeg premiere. Keep reading to find out more about these local stars and this unique production.

Brenda McLean_HeadshotBrenda McLean is excited about working on this play in the beautiful and inspiring historical setting of the Ralph Connor house. Her previous collaboration with Sarasvàti was directing “Harold and Vivian” in their last FemFest, where she had many many laughs. This spring she is directing “The Weir” for PTE’s Adult Company and Costume Designing “The Comedy of Errors” for SIR. Brenda is also Co-Artistic Director of Theatre Incarnate, who will be doing a reading during Carol Shields this May.

Tracy Penner_colourTracy Penner is delighted to be working with Sarasvàti again! Other local companies she’s worked with include RMTC, TPM, zone 41, Root Sky Productions, SIR, and WJT. In Edmonton, select theatre companies include Catalyst Theatre, Shadow Theatre, Concrete Theatre, and Vault: Theatre of Invention. Tracy is a graduate of the University of Alberta.

Get to know these stars better with our hilarious up close and personal questions. Any guesses as to which famous Shakespearean character these stars both want to play someday? Keep reading to find out!

 

Where would you love to travel?

BRENDA: London, Ireland, Spain. I’d start in London and travel south.

TRACY: There are many places I’d love to see, but my top picks would have to be Greece and The Maritimes.

If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?

BRENDA: Maybe something from Adele or Bruno Mars.

TRACY: ‘Blue Skies’ would be my pick but if that were too old school, maybe John Legend’s new song ‘All of Me’.

What role would you love to play one day?

BRENDA: Lady Macbeth

TRACY: I would love to play Shakespeare’s ‘Lady M’ one day!

Fefu and Her Friends is a site-specific theatrical experience that is sure to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The piece will be presented inside West Broadway’s Ralph Connor House (54 West Gate). We are incredibly excited to use this heritage house venue as it fulfills our mandate of using new or non-traditional forms of theatrical representation to tell stories. Fefu and her Friends will have audiences travel to different spaces throughout the house while watching its compelling story unfold. Don’t miss out on this event! Due to our unique venue, there are only 60 seats per performance. Act now and get your tickets before it’s too late.

Fefu and Her Friends: More Amazing Talent!

Fefu FB cover picAs the days grow longer, the countdown to opening night gets shorter! We are extremely excited here at Sarasvàti Productions for our upcoming spring production of Fefu and Her Friends. Known for its unique absurdist and surreal elements and its powerful use of space, we are positive this show will impress audiences and leave them wanting more. As a continuation of last week’s post, today we are pleased to feature two additional members of our talented all-female cast! Meet Elena Anciro who will play the role of Sue and Kelci Stephenson who will take on the role of Julia. Find out more about these two homegrown talents below.

Elena Anciro - HeadshotElena Anciro is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg’s Department of Theatre and Film. She is excited and honoured to bring Fefu and Her Friends to life with this fantastic group of women! Her previous Sarasvati credits include: A Kick in the Head (as director), Generation Nexxt, the International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues, Empty, and Flood Control.  Her recent onscreen projects include “Foot of the Bridge” (40below Films), “Siberia” (NBC), and “Schism” (ZenFri). When she isn’t performing, Elena has the pleasure of working with youth across Manitoba as the Curriculum Developer for Career Trek, Inc.

Kelci Stephenson - HeadshotKelci Stephenson is happy to be home in Winnipeg again after a long winter traipsing around the prairies on tour. A graduate of the University of Winnipeg Honours Theatre program, she spent the past six months on the road with Stripped-Down Hamlet (Shakespeare In the Ruins), and Portage & Munsch: 50 Below (Prairie Theatre Exchange).

We got up close and personal with our stars so you could get to know them better! Take a look at what they shared with us.

What is your favourite play?
ELENA: That’s a tough one, but the most recent play I’ve read is “Kim’s Convenience” by Ins Choi. It’s been a while since I’ve read something that made me laugh that hard!

KELCI: August: Osage County or King Lear

What is your favourite thing to do on your day off?
ELENA: Playing with my nephews and breakfast with friends.

KELCI: Bake banana bread and read a book.

Where would you love to travel?
ELENA: New Zealand and Newfoundland are at the top of my travel list!

KELCI: New Zealand, Vietnam.

What would you do if you won a million dollars?
ELENA: The first two things I’d do is take my family on a trip and create a foundation that would support organizations working in the arts, community development, and education.

KELCI: Dance around like a maniac! As for what I would do with the money; take my family on a crazy vacation, and use the rest toward sustainability initiatives in Uganda with the Winnipeg-based organization Kwagala Foundation.

Fefu and Her Friends is a unique and immersive theatrical experience! The show will run from May 22nd-June 1st inside West Broadway’s stunning Ralph Connor House (54 West Gate). Want to find out more? Click here for more information on the show and to purhcase your tickets online. But hurry! With only 60 seats per performance, this show is bound to sell-out well in advance. Contact us to get your tickets today!