The Power of Story: Sarasvàti presents human rights activist Ali Saeed

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A delicious traditional Ethiopian meal prepared at Gohe Restaurant. Photo by Serge Gumenyuk, The Uniter.

An amazing meal, a powerful story and supporting inspiring theatre – what more could you want in an evening! On Thursday June 15th at 6pm join Sarasvàti Productions for a full course meal of traditional Ethiopian food followed by the powerful story of award-winning human rights activist, Ali Saeed. Fresh from speaking at the 2017 Winnipeg TEDx, Ali joins us to share his transformational experience in support of transformational theatre.

Ali Saeed is a former Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience [i] who was imprisoned on more than one occasion because of his work as a human rights defender in his home country of Ethiopia. He spent a total of seven years in custody and was held in eleven different prisons during his incarceration in Ethiopia and Somalia. He was tortured and subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment during this period.  After being released from imprisonment in Somalia in 1984, Ali Saeed immigrated to Manitoba.

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Ali Saeed

Even though he had survived unimaginable horrors as a direct consequence of his human rights activities in Ethiopia, Ali immediately resumed these efforts in Manitoba by working on behalf of other refugees seeking safety from persecution while placing emphasis on promoting the rights of women.

Since arriving in Manitoba Ali has transformed the lives of many. Ali has worked to sponsor 104 refugees through the Ethiopian Society of Winnipeg by working in collaboration with Hospitality House and the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council, traveled to Parliament Hill along with his daughter to present a petition highlighting concerns about women who had been disappeared or were being held as political prisoners in Ethiopia and produced the award winning Memories of a Generation, a feature length documentary on human rights which has reached over 5,000 people in Europe and North America.

Hear Ali Saeed speak at Honouring Courage and Celebrating Diversity on June 15th at Gohe Ethiopian Restaurant. The evening includes a world-class Ethiopian meal, a silent art auctions and more. Tickets are just $45 (tax receipt for $25) and available at our office – call 204-586-2236 or info@sarasvati.ca. All funds raised will support the transformative theatre work of Sarasvàti Productions.

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[i] Prisoners of conscience are individuals who have been imprisoned solely for the peaceful expression of their beliefs or because of their race, gender or other personal characteristics.

Comedy for a Good Cause

Who doesn’t need to have good laugh AND fasten a good deed under their belt now that we are approaching the holiday season at breakneck speed?? On November 16th at the King’s Head Pub (120 King Street) Sarasvàti Productions will launch a brand new fundraiser; one that highlights many of the women in Winnipeg’s comedy scene. To do this, we are joining forces with comedian Dana Smith, organizer and host of the monthly Women’s Comedy Open Mic.

“The Women’s Comedy Open Mic has been even more rewarding than I anticipated.”, said host and organizer Dana Smith. “Not only is it a space where women feel comfortable trying stand-up for the first time, seasoned comedians feel comfortable trying out material that’s out of their comfort zone.”

Over the past year the number of women doing stand-up comedy in Winnipeg has increased significantly, thanks in part to local initiatives like Dana Smith’s monthly Women’s Comedy Night and Melanie Dahling’s Comedy Workshop for Women. This year, Sarasvàti Productions sought to throw a fundraising event that would align with our mandate to foster social change and promote equity on Canadian stages by teaming up with Dana Smith to organize the Women’s Comedy Night.

The Women’s Comedy Night will entertain audiences with a diverse line-up of local funny women who range stylistically from classic stand-up, to alt comedy, to storytelling. Dana Smith will host the Women’s Comedy Night and the evening will feature an array of comedians, both seasoned and emerging. Check our our amazing line-up!

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Dana Smith runs the successful monthly Women’s Open Mic and is a member of the sketch group H.U.N.K.S. (5 STARS – Wpg Free Press). She has been featured in the Winnipeg Comedy Showcase, 2015-2016 Oddblock Comedy Fest, 2015-2016 Winnipeg Comedy Festival and the 2015 and 2016 IF Winnipeg Improv Festival.

130510mdhs0120Melanie Dahling has been on the Winnipeg comedy scene for six years. She has been featured in the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, Toronto’s SheDot Festival, Chantel Marostica’s EmpowHERment, and more. In addition to stand up she keeps busy writing for The Uniter and coming up with new projects. She is currently on post production for a short film produced with Winnipeg Film Group’s First Film Fund, writing sketch comedy, and researching a new show for the 2017 Fringe Festival.

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Florence Spence is a stand-up comedian from York Factory Cree Nation.  Raised in Winnipeg and on the reserve she has been able to transition the hardships of growing up with 7 brothers, being a single parent of 3 and now a grandmother into comedy gold. With almost no Aboriginal women comics to look up to, Florence has broken down barriers across Manitoba with her raw and real material. Her witty observations and captivating stage presence set Florence Spence up to be your next favorite comedian.

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Ashley Burdett has been doing improv for over 10 years and spent 5 glorious seasons with the improvised soap opera Soap Scum. She is very new to stand-up but has already appeared in the Oddblock Comedy Festival, The Winnipeg Comedy Festival and the Winnipeg Comedy Showcase. Her style has been described as “thoughtful, honest and wickedly silly.”

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A lifelong theatre geek and comedy nerd, Meghan Riley first performed stand-up in 2012’s “Winnipeg’s Funniest Person With a Day Job,” where she was a finalist. A few months later she had her second child and disappeared…In June of 2015, Meghan returned to the stand-up circuit… with a look of desperation,  a delightful soccer mom haircut, and stories to share! Since then, Meghan is a regular at the open mics and has been featured in the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, the EmpowHERment 3 showcase, and the Token diversity showcase.

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Cathy Herbert is a writer from Winnipeg and is currently an unwilling slave of humanity’s corporate overlords. She spends most of her time pondering a peaceful solution to this problem and has so far come up with nothing.

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Hailing from the North End of Winnipeg, Jessica Seburn ventured into stand-up comedy a year ago after facing personal tragedy. A newcomer to the performing arts; she quickly found her comedic voice. Jessica was featured in the EmpowHERment Show, The Winnipeg Comedy Showcase, Winnipeg Comedy Festival and most recently featured in Oddblock 2016. She recently produced the local show: “The Naked Truth, Comedy Truth or Dare.” Jessica wants to remind everyone that life is meaningless and bleak but hey, that’s comedy.

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Autumn Crossman-Serb is a Muslim illustrator/comic artist who was born and raised in Winnipeg. Her passions are monster girls, scifi/fantasy, and romantic comedies. Stand-up is a new addition to her backlog of weird skills but still employs her love telling a story.

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Frances Koncan is an Anishinaabe writer, director, and apparently stand-up comedian from Couchiching First Nation! Once the Principal French Horn in the National Youth Band of Canada, she peaked at a young age and has been desperate to achieve the success of her youth ever since. And now here we all are…

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Angie St. Mars is the Associate Producer at Sarasvàti Productions and this is how she got this gig. She spends most of her time writing for the stage. Recently, she has been doing make-em-ups with Winnipeg-based sketch comedy groups Free Snacks and President Bear. She has been featured in the Winnipeg Improv Festival’s Sketch Ensemble Show, Token Diverse Comedy Showcase, and the Women’s Comedy Open Mic Winnipeg Comedy Fest Edition.

The Women’s Comedy Night will take place at the Kings Head Pub (120 King Street) on Wednesday, November 16th. Doors open at 8pm with the show starting at 8:30pm. The evening will include a 50/50 and a door prize including tickets to our next production and a package from Amsterdam Tea Room. Tickets are just $10 and you can get yours in advance to ensure a seat by calling 204-586-2236! If there are still tickets left, you can also get them at the door the night of the event.

 

‘His Girl Friday’ on the screen, again!

Dust off your fedora and polish up your high heels because we’re heading back in time to the 1940’s when men were the boss – well maybe not! We are bringing back a classic film for a night of laughs and fun in support of Sarasvàti Productions. We will be presenting the classic 1940 hit His Girl Friday.

Monday, November 19
Cinematheque – 100 Arthur Street
Doors open at 7pm, show starts at 7:30pm
$15 admission includes free small popcorn!

Don’t forget there will be prizes for best costume and a trivia contest!

Not sure how to dress the part? No problem! Take these tips down:
– For men: double breasted suits, slicked back hair (parted on the side), classic fedora
-For women: pencil skirts are a must, along with stockings with visible seams; waves, rolls or pompadours in your hair!

The film stars Cary Grant as a newspaper editor who upon learning that his ex-wife (Rosalind Russell) is about to marry a new man and move away, attempts to sabotage their nuptials by getting her to contribute to a big, breaking story. Considered to be one of the funniest movies of the decade, His Girl Friday is sure to please all!

Sit back and enjoy the original trailer!

Tickets are available at www.sarasvati.ca or by calling Andrea at 204-612-1112