‘Empty’ Shines a Light

Empty, our original, in-house production (created with the support of the Winnipeg Arts Council ‘With Arts’ Program and the Winnipeg Foundation), had its world premiere at FemFest 2012 last week to an extremely enthusiastic and responsive audience. We knew before FemFest that we wanted to take this show out into the community and thanks to the additional support of RBC Foundation this has been made possible. It is important to us to share this incredible work with folks who may not have access to or typically go to theatre shows. To kick-off our tour, we brought the play into the place that inspired the play: Winnipeg Harvest. Over the lunch hour, we performed the show for Winnipeg Harvest volunteers, staff and community members. The response has been overwelmingly positive.

“On behalf of all the Winnipeg Harvest team members who were there, thank you so much for presenting Empty today at lunchtime. You have done an excellent job of capturing the reality faced by Winnipeg Harvest clients in your script. The actors, director and crew all make it come alive and be real. As I looked around the room during the performance, I could see that you were having a profound effect on everyone there. Many, including David, were moved to tears. Your play was acting as a catalyst for their increased consciousness of their individual situation and how that is reflected in the systemic reality. Drama can be a powerful force for social change. Emptyis very powerful. We all hope it leads to the kinds of changes we all want.” – Donald Benham, Director of Hunger and Poverty Awareness (Winnipeg Harvest)

Sylvia Kuzyk, Elena Anciro and Melanie Dean; photo by Janet Shum

As we were approaching community groups and schools about this project, the response and interest was paramount. There is such a thirst for ‘real stories’ about ‘real people.’ We are excited to be offering a production that was written not only with food bank users in mind, but with direct input from food bank users, volunteers and staff throughout the entire creation and writing process. When our own Artistic Director Hope McIntyre was commissioned to write this piece, she knew from the start that this project and the resulting production would be able to reach out to individuals and communities in an enlightening way. We look forward to a successful run!

We have two community shows that are open to the public and you’re invited!

7pm Thursday, September 27 in partnership with the Provincial Council of Women at the Society of Manitobans With Disabilities (825 Sherbrook Street); $10 admission
8pm Thursday, October 4 at Graffiti Art Gallery a special show for youth (109 Higgins Ave); admission is free but seats need to be reserved (call 204.586.2236 for details)

September 24 2012 – FemFest 2012: a Smash Hit!

Sarasvàti Productions is humbled by the unwavering support and love that we have received from the fantastic turn-out and interest in FemFest 2012: Staging Identity. The festival closed this past weekend and although we are sad that it is over, we are happy to know that so many Winnipeggers were able to experience and appreciate transformative plays by women. It is hard to pick out highlights from this years festival because of the wide variety of topics and issues each of the plays raised. The audience response to our shows has been overwhelming! We are proud of the work we have put out this year and for the last 10 years of Winnipeg’s only and Canada’s favourite female playwright festival!

As part of our 10 year anniversary of FemFest, we have put together a series of videos, speaking with many of the amazingly talented women who have contributed their stories and work to the festival over the years. As well, we have compiled a short video, looking back on this past FemFest and what some favorite moments were! Check it out on our youtube page!

Just because FemFest has passed does not mean Sarasvàti takes time off! We are excited to announce that Empty, an in-house production that debuted at FemFest, will be touring Winnipeg high schools and community groups in the upcoming weeks. The tour starts tomorrow, with a free show at Winnipeg Harvest at 11:45am! Admission is free but we encourage you to bring a tin for the bin!

As well, we will have many more events and shows throughout the 2012-2013 season – and we cannot wait to see you at all of them! For more information about our season line-up, check out www.sarasvati.ca

FemFest 2012 to wrap up this weekend!

We could not be more thrilled with the incredible amount of support and encouragement we have received this week as part of FemFest 2012! There are only two days left of the festival but there are still tons of incredible performances to see!

Friday, September 21:

7pm – Empty: Created with the assistance of the Winnipeg Arts Council WithArts Program, Empty tells the true and poignant stories of people at a local food bank and explores the human side of poverty.

8:15pm – The Possible Lives of Dolores Garcia Rodriguez: a reading by playwright Jordan Hall, Co-created with ACTvist Theatre Collective’s Zoe Green, Possible Lives explores the 2006 repeal of therapeutic abortion rights in Nicaragua and their effects on the lives of three different women. When do we decide to create change, and when do we decide to ignore the issues?

9pm – My Pregnant Brother: a one-woman show by Montreal playwright and actor Johanna Nutter, this stranger than fiction story is based off of the true events that took place when one day on a park bench, Johanna’s brother revealed that he was pregnant! Absolutely heart wrenching and mesmerizing!

My Pregnant Brother; photo by Pam Price

Saturday, September 22:

2pm – Empty

7pm – Immigration Stories: SOLD OUT!: Created in partnership with the Immigrant Women’s Association of Manitoba, Immigration Stories tells the true stories of senior immigrant women and their experiences coming to and navigating through their new lives in Winnipeg. Experience the trials, tribulations and triumphs of these amazing, head strong women. Although tickets are sold out audiences are welcome to take a risk and come just before the show in case there are no-shows.

9pm – Closing Cabaret: Hosted by Virgin Radio’s Chrissy Troy, the closing cabaret is a celebrating of female talent from across disciplines! Including: Gear Shifting Performance Work, MAWA artists Cindy Dyson and Nora Kobrinsky, slam poetry by Ali Tataryn, Prairie Caravan Tribal Bellydance, a short film by Leslie Supnet and musical guest Flo!

Tickets can be purchased online at www.femfest.ca or you can try your luck by purchasing at the door! (We recommend buying ahead of time – shows are filling up quickly! Tickets bought ahead of time will be available at the box office)

FemFest 2012 – Opens Tonight!

The clock is ticking… Sarasvàti Productions 10th annual FemFest 2012 is only a few hours away. Performers, directors and staff have been working tirelessly to prepare for what we consider to be our best and biggest festival yet!

We have an incredible line-up to open the festival today; we have something for everyone! Tell your friends!

1pm – A reading of In Waiting by Claire Therese

3pm – A workshop presentation of Cry After Midnight by Talia Pura

7pm – Opening Cabaret! Featuring wonderful and eclectic performances by Mad Young Darlings, members of Young Lungs Dance Exchange, Lynn Langdon and many, many more! Reception sponsored by Stella’s to follow the cabaret!

For the full festival line up and how you can purchase your tickets (while they’re still available) go to www.femfest.ca

Dinner and a Show with Garbonzo’s!

Can you believe that FemFest is only TWO days away? What a special treat we have lined up for FemFest attendees!

Sarasvàti Productions is thrilled to announce a special community partnership with Garbonzo’s Pizza Pub! During FemFest 2012: Staging Identity (September 15-22) bring your ticket stub to Garbonzo’s (471 Portage Avenue) and receive 20% off food and beverages (alcoholic beverages not included); half price off pizzas; and Coors Light for $3.25!! This is an exclusive offer for those who attend FemFest and can be used any time of day throughout the festival!

We especially encourage FemFest attendees to come on down to Garbonzo’s on September 17,2012 after the Bake Off for a special meet and greet with performers, directors and Sarasvàti staff and volunteers!

Sonofabitch Stew Rides in to FemFest

There is something about westerns, animal hides and cowboy hats that just make you feel… shameless.

Sarasvàti Productions is proud to be presenting Sonofabitch Stew: The Drunken Life of Calamity Jane at FemFest 2012: Staging Idenity. The one-woman show comes from Vancouver’s Shameless Hussy Productions.

Daune Campbell – Shameless Hussy Productions Co-Artistic Director – stars as Janet Payne a cussin’, fussin’, drinkin’, brawlin’, women’s studies professor who has become a legendary maverick by kissing off life’s middle of-the-road for the rougher and more thrilling ride on the trail of her lifelong heroine Calamity Jane. Haven’t you ever wanted to take on the persona of one your personal heros (mind you not everyone can pull that off)? Sonofabitch Stew has opened to rave reviews around the country and we couldn’t be more thrilled bring this rootin’ tootin’ performance to Winnipeg!

For those who are uninitiated, the real Calamity Jane, AKA Martha Jane Canary, was an American frontiers woman, who was famous for her kindness and compassion and infamous for her gung-slingin’ and drinkin’. For more info on Calamity Jane, click the pic below!

Sonofabitch Stew: the Drunken Life of Calamity Jane makes its FemFest debut on Tuesday, September 18 at 9pm, with additional shows on Wednesday, September 19 at 2:30pm and 9pm. Tickets are $10 and are available at www.femfest.ca or at the door. Can’t wait to see you there!

In Depth: FemFest Workshops

Every year when planning FemFest, Sarasvati Productions looks for new and exciting ways to connect with Winnipeg communities. We strive on representing as many communities as we can and helping them tell their stories. FemFest 2012: Staging Identity is so much more than just some actors on a stage. Women’s storytelling aims to engage the audience and force them to see something inside themselves and create their own artistic viewpoints and spaces. We are pleased to present, as part of our already stellar festival line-up, two excellent, hands-on workshops from two of our touring performers and companies.

Another exciting aspect about FemFest is the opportunity to present readings and lectures from distinguished and established playwrights and artitsts. It is importanting to attend readings of works in progress in order to better understand and appreciate the writing process. We are proud to be presenting writers from across Canada and across genres as part of the line-up of FemFest ancillary events!

johanna nutter Continue reading

urban ink are lookin’ for fish!

Women in Fish will be making its Winnipeg debut at FemFest 2012 this September. Outside of the festival line-up, there are many other opportunities for you, your grandmother, your friends, and anyone else you might know to meet with the amazing cast and crew behind Women in Fish and to learn more about women’s contributions to land-based industries.

September 12 @ 7pm (Asper Centre for Theatre and Film – 400 Colony Street) – A community gathering with a historical focus; discussions will centre on women’s participation and contributions to Manitoba land-based industries.

September 13 @ 7pm (Ma Mawi Wi Chi Ita Centre – 363 McGregor Avenue) – A community gathering with an Aboriginal focus; discussing the issues of Aboriginal women as they relate to traditional teachings and ways of life.

September 16 @ 12:30pm (Indian and Metis Friendship Centre – 45 Robinson Street) – a special screening of the Women in Fish documentary with a Q&A to follow facilitated by Rosemary Georgeson. Free admission.

September 18 @ 7pm (Asper Centre for Theatre and Film – 400 Colony Street) – full performance with actor Mary Galloway at FemFest 2012! Tickets $10.


July 1, 2011. Women in Fish on tour in Tonfino and Uculette, two gorgeous fishing towns on the coast of Vancouver Island.

Our performance space for the show is a gorgeous little 100 seat venue in the Kwisitis Pacific Rim provincial park.  The park Rangers won’t let our presenter: Pacific Rim Arts festival supply the fish we need to have on stage… ( what with the bears, campers and all). We have to take it upon ourselves to scour the local docks to find some fish….after a night of smiling at the fishermen and swapping stories, Rose is able to grab two rock fish. Rock Fish have this horrible tongue that pop out. Very, very ugly fish. Mary, the performer refuses to touch the fish.  Park Rangers, presenter and performer be damned…we will have fish!!

Rose makes a deal. She will fillet the fish and it will look like any other fish…Then all involved will cook that said fish, and we will EAT! Let there be FISH….

Watch Rosie G make filets in Uclulet in “Mad Fishy Love”. Photos by Diane Roberts. Music by the Queen of Soul! Special thanks to Ben the fish…! (I feel a sequel coming on…)

Helma Rogge Rehders Shares Her Stories

Immigration Stories

Where do I start? I will describe my surroundings. My fine art painting studio is over looking a deep green summer landscape. The temperature reads 28 celsius inside. The fan is cranked on faster.

Ha, I know it is much more comfortable outside under the huge oak shade and a good breeze coming off the lake, Lake Winnipeg.

We are now into serious rehearsing our script for the Immigration Stories vignettes. From January when we got together to tell our stories and Hope was listening we as a group of novices have come a long way. She is fantastic the things she had made us do to learn to mime. And mime so that the audience would get what we were trying to show. Then on we went to develop our script, that was homework, real homework for all of us. I for one needed to be reminded that this is to be a final production for the FemFest in September in a real theatre with a paying audience. Perhaps I was hoping that it was just a little thingy. But no. I am seeing the production coming together and the characters come to life.

I loved the moment I chose to act out in our winter scene ‘making snowangels’ what fun I had rolling into the snow and patting my arms up and down to make the snow angel. Fancy, I couldn’t even remember when I last lay in the snow to make an angel. And there I was practicing in the rehearsal studio with so much glee we all threw the make believe snowballs at each other. I even snow washed, if that what you call it, my dear fellow woman actor’s face. Giggling good naturely.

I am so happy to be part of this theatre production. Not just for the fame lol but the cameraderie and bonding with the immigrant women and the professional actors I have met. I also believe it has put a real spring into my step. Enough for now because I have to learn my lines.

Well, I have good intentions to do that.

Greetings to all —

Your colleague in creative synergy,


Immigration Stories runs September 20 & 22 at 7pm more info at www.femfest.ca .

One Director’s Perspective on Directing New Writing

Kendra Jones will be directing a number of Shorts that will be read throughout the festival. These are exciting excerpts from the festival short-list that we just weren’t able to fit into FemFest but wanted to introduce to our audiences. To find out the schedule for the Shorts click here.


Directing is one of the most challenging jobs in theatre; it is our job to ensure that the message of the play is understood and shared by the artistic team, that the actors, designers, etc have what they need, and most importantly, that we communicate all of this to the audience. The approach each director has differs, and I know from my experience, the type of play I am working on will determine exactly how I go about bringing it to life for the audience.

With new writing, one of my foremost concerns is ensuring that my directorial voice does not overshadow the voice of the writer. In these instances, the director’s job is to help the writer’s story shine – to show it off, so to speak, and allow the text to work for the audience on its own terms, and not as a result of imposition from the director in terms of style. For a project like the Shorts, where I have to select a brief portion of a longer work to share, my main goal is to showcase the tone, style, and skill of the larger work, while keeping within time limitations, and ensuring that nothing I’m selecting is going to be clunky or awkward in a staged-reading situation. Some things just don’t work properly with the text in hand!

Read more!