Launching IWW18

How do you pull together 10 performers, doing 10 pieces and touring to upwards of 15 locations? With a lot of help. For five years now Rachel Smith has been an integral part of the International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues. Rachel is part of choosing the theme, making monologue selections and directing pieces to be performed at the theatre and throughout the community. As we begin to choose our selections for IWW2018, we caught up with Rachel to talk about what she’s looking forward to about the project this year.

What does the IWW Cabaret of Monologues mean to you?

I have been fortunate enough to grow as a director throughout my time working on the cabaret. When I first joined the artistic team I had just graduated with my MA so I was eager to get more practical experience under my belt. Working on this event gave me the opportunity to have Hope McIntyre as a mentor and I feel this has strongly contributed to my growth as an artist.

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Rachel Smith

Working on monologues is challenging in many ways. The playwrights have to write an active and engaging performance for only one person. The actors have no other actors on stage to feed off of and sometimes have to react to an imaginary character. As a director we have to help the actors figure out how to bring the monologues to life; ensuring the performance is active and engaging.

Each monologue that I have worked on has presented its own unique challenges artistically and each actor is different to work with. Every time I have worked on the monologues I take something new away from them. The practical experiences I gain are matched by the expansive understanding that the different stories present.

What does this year’s theme ‘Unstoppable’ mean to you?

Each year the theme we choose offers new stories and new perspectives. The perspectives that are represented in the monologues are not often seen on stage elsewhere. The topics challenge the audiences and offer new ways of thinking about the themes we present. Working as a director on these stories ensures that my own biases are constantly being challenged. I hope that it does the same for audiences.

I think that the theme “unstoppable” is important because it can be inspirational. Everyone faces challenges at some point in their lives. For some people just getting out of bed in the morning can be a challenge. Sometimes the circumstances we find ourselves in can seem hopeless. Sometimes we need other people’s stories about how they are able to push through and keep going, in order to feel as though we can do the same.

What have some of the highlights been for you?

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Jane Burpee in Dave Carley’s “Urban Nun”

My favourite monologue that I have worked on has been the, somewhat crude, smoking Nun played by Jane Burpee. It was such a great monologue and I had so much fun working on it.

That being said, every year the monologues and rehearsals are so great that it is hard to narrow down the highlights. For me, working on the Cabaret, in general, is a highlight.

Why celebrate IWW with the Cabaret of Monologues?

The Cabaret of Monologues is a unique event where we are able to confront important societal issues while getting the chance to showcase talent from Canadian Women. We often get a range of work from all over Canada from women writers of various backgrounds. With the added bonus of being able to work with local, often up and coming, artists. It is a chance to have powerful stories portrayed by powerful women on stage.

One of my favourite aspects of the Cabaret of Monologues is that the monologues tour to different community organizations. This provides opportunities to bring the performances to people who may not be able to attend the full public event. Many organizations use the monologues as an opportunity to talk about circumstances that members of their communities may be confronting. It also provides opportunities for the performers to meet members of the community. This gives the event a more personalized atmosphere.

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Johanna Burdon performing at St. John’s Library

Stay tuned for the announcement of this year’s pieces in an upcoming blog! You can catch the 2018 International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues March 10 at 4pm and 8pm at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Tickets are on sale now.  Those interested in booking monologues to tour to their community can contact Angie at associate@sarasvati.ca .

 

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All the World’s a Stage this International Women’s Week

Hot off the heels of an incredibly successful community tour, our performers are ready to showcase this year’s line up of monologues this Saturday at the International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues: Starting Over !  We are proud to provide a platform for women’s stories, to promote equity on Canadian stages and to provide access to the arts.

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We started off by taking the pieces that were created through community group story-sharing back to the groups of women who had helped us to create them. After well-received performances at Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba and Welcome Place, we set off to tour the wider community! Here are the great host groups, all amazing organizations worth checking out:

March 2 – Genesis House – Manitou, Manitoba
Genesis House exists so that people of South Central Manitoba will be free from family and intimate partner abuse achieving results that justify the relative worth. They provide a confidential service, which includes a shelter for abused women and their children, residential and non-residential programs and prevention through public education.

March 6 – UWSA Women Trans-Spectrum Centre
The Women-Trans Spectrum Centre is an accessible and inclusive resource centre for women and trans students on the University of Winnipeg campus. The centre is a great space to hang out, study, and build community.

March 7 – North End Women’s CentreNEWC IWW17 (2)
The North End Women’s Centre is a community based organization that provides women with support, knowledge, and opportunity as they move forward on their journey towards independence and healthier lifestyle.

 

March 7 – Nova House – Selkirk, Manitoba
Nova House is a shelter for abused women and children in the Interlake Region of Manitoba. They provide temporary shelter, counseling, support groups, and referral to community resources for women and their children.

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March 8 – North End Family Centre

The North End Family Centre is a community gathering place that provides a comfortable and safe environment for community members to connect and belong.

March 8 – U of M Womyn’s Centre
RRC IWW17 (1)The Womyn’s Centre provides a feminist voice and safe space for womyn on campus. The members strive to create a place where women are listened to and recognized, and facilitate women as they gather the information they need to make informed decisions in their lives.

March 8 – Rainbow Resource Centre
Rainbow Resource Centre provides support, education, and resources to foster a proud, resilient, and diverse LGBT2SQ+ community.

March 9 – Agape House – Steinbach, Manitoba
The mission of Agape House-Eastman Crisis Centre, Inc. is to empower women and children experiencing family violence by providing safe shelter, information, counseling, and ongoing support.

March 9 – Mount Carmel Clinic
Founded on the belief that everyone has the right to accessible health care, Mount Carmel Clinic goes the extra mile to help clients connect with the services they need—in their homes, workplaces and neighbourhood.

March 9 – St. John’s Library
In addition to offering the services of a public library, St. John’s Library offers an array of free programs and workshops for all ages.

March 10 – St. Aidan’s School, Aberdeen Campus
St. Aidan’s School Aberdeen Campus is a Grade 6-10 school, primarily focused on at-risk kids, and presently serving kids from about ten nations – Cree, Tanzania, Metis, Kaska, Canada, Eritrea, Congo, Ojibway, Ethiopia, Burundi.

March 10 – IIWR-MB
IIWR-MB is an organization open to all individuals, as well as organizations that have an interest in promoting women’s human rights.

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March 12 –The Association of United Ukrainian Canadians
The Association of United Ukrainian Canadians is a progressive Organization with strong and durable roots in the people and history of Canada.

March 19- Manitoba Storytelling Guild
The Manitoba Storytelling Guild supports and promotes the art of oral storytelling throughout Manitoba.

A great big thank you goes out to Manitoba Status of Women and the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg. Without them, this Cabaret would not be possible. Special thanks to Neighborhoods Alive! and NERI for supporting our North End performances.

Join us for a performance of the full line-up, and a lobby full of visual art on the theme of ‘Starting Over’ at the International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues, March 11, 2017.

 

 

What Does Starting Over Mean to You?

Have you ever relocated, tackled a new job, new relationship or even just discovered your true self? This year we explore what is perhaps the most universal topic we have tackled in the International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues. Erin Meagan Schwartz asked all of our performers what this year’s theme means to them.

“New adventure! But that was my idea when I was eleven years old and I came to Canada”, says Cherrel Holder, “then doing it when I was 20–moving to Australia for school–starting over was scary.” Check out the promo video for all of our performers responses!

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Kim Kakegamic rehearsing “The Pit” in front of playwright Alissa Watson and Directors Hope McIntyre and Rachel Smith. Photo by Nik Rave.

Alka Kumar shared her story of starting over with Angie St. Mars. The two co-wrote one of the monologue sin this year’s cabaret based on Alka’s experience. “Sharing my story provided me space for reflection, even helping me process my experience in a deliberate and considered manner”, said Alka, including that it is a technique and useful tool within narrative therapy. “I found this useful as it was a good opportunity to go back to my `lived experience’ after the fact, almost separating it out of myself (externalising it, as it were) and through such a process of articulation becoming more aware of it.”
The piece created from their process is called Diaspora. It focuses on an Indian woman, once a newcomer herself, as she welcomes a young newcomer to Winnipeg.

The Cabaret features monologues that take you through ten different stories of pivotal moments in very different women’s lives. From the moment when an Ojibwe activist must choose to apologize or stand by what she believes in, to the moment a young Nigerian woman tells her first generation immigrant parents that she wants to go home: this year’s selections will have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.

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“I hope the audience [members] who share my experiencing of my everyday dilemmas, struggles, and negotiations with my many homes will get to know me a little”, said Alka. “Even more significantly, I hope the monologue and my voice will resonate, and that it may help in their personal processes and journeys of reflection, and exploration, as ideas and emotions around identity, belonging, and being comfortable being who we are wherever home is are important questions for everyone.”

There are two chances to catch all ten monologues on March 11th at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Tickets are available at the door, but we recommend getting them in advance, as this event will sell out.

 

Spotlight on Newcomer Stories

How do we welcome new members to our local circle?
How do we provide space to hear and understand their stories?
How do we work with them to be inclusive rather than insisting they adjust to our forms?
How do we give them a role in the arts?

These were our burning questions as we began curating work for the 2017 IWW Cabaret of Monologues. We had put out a call for stories of Starting Over, and while we were thankful to receive over 4o stellar submissions, something was missing. We set to work reaching out to dozens of women who had experience as a newcomer to Canada and invited them to collaborate.

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We went all over the community, dropping in for story-gathering workshops with newcomer women’s groups including the Canadian Muslim Women’s Institute (CMWI), Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM), The Immigration Centre and more. We also lined up one-on-one interviews with women who were excited to share their story with the help of community contacts such as the International Institute for Women’s Rights Manitoba (IIWR-MB).

“The response to our call for collaboration has been overwhelming”, said Hope McIntyre, Artistic Director of  Sarasvàti Productions. “We are excited to continue to work with the amazing individuals and organizations in the long-term for our next community-based project!”

“There are few things more enjoyable than being told a good story”, said Angie St. Mars, co-writer of two of the collaborative monologues.”I would meet with the women who wanted to tell their stories. We would sit down together and record an interview. I’d go home, listen back, come up with a concept, and then write a draft. I sent each draft back-and-forth with the person who’d shared their story  and they would give me feedback throughout the writing pro0cess. This is great way to write a monologue.”

Monologues created through collaboration include:

Diaspora by Angie St. Mars and Alka Kumar
Lost Girls by Hope McIntyre with Rachel Awur Moijok Chol
You Say Tomato, I Say…Fine by Angie St. Mars from interviews
In My Country by Hope McIntyre with the women of IIWR-MB (Martha Akuch Maketh, Rosemary Kezaaba and Gertrude Hambira)

“I could have listened to the women I interviewed tell stories all day, and I hope that the audience will get swept up in them the way I did sitting across from these women”, said St. Mars. “Starting Over lends itself to so many great stories. This year’s line up is witty and intrepid and always, always so honest.”

Using the performing arts as a medium, we can inspire a larger conversation about the city, country and world we live in. It is an important time for Canada to be a leader in the future and it needs to begin with engaging people locally. What better way than through the arts?

There are two chances to see the full line-up, 4pm and 8pm on Saturday, March 11th.
Celebrate International Women’s Week with us!

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Tales of Starting Over Tackled by a Stellar Cast

We’ve got a lot of local talent packed into this year’s Cabaret, some familiar faces, and some new to Sarasvati. We’re pleased to introduce to you to some of the cast members of the 2017 International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues. Stay tuned next week for part two!

Cherrel Holder is an actress, dancer, and teacher in both arenas. She is a passionate multi-tasker who describes herself as “raw, enthusiastic, and annoyingly positive.” Cherrel will perform In My Country, an exposé of how Canada can appear to some as they arrive from other countries.

Many of you will be familiar with actor Erica Wilson who has worked with Sarasvàti many times, most-recently on Shattered.”I’m a girl with many faces”, says Wilson, “once a women said I had 5, I laughed and told her I currently had 7. I’m a workaholic that tries to do better every single year.” Wilson plays an Ojibwe Activist who finds herself faced with a big choice after speaking out at a rally.

Johanna Burdon is an actor and avid cyclist–perfect for her role in this year’s Cabaret where Johanna plays a character who is part-way through cycling across Canada.”I really like riding my bike”, said Burdon. “It’s my go-to form of transportation because it’s fun, healthy, good for the environment, easy, inexpensive, and reliable.”

Melanee Deschambeault is a full-time student in her 3rd year at U of M. She is an actor as well as one of the facilitators of Sarasvati’s  North End Youth Workshop Series. Melanee performs Questions and Answers, a piece that finds a young woman at a challenging moment in her life  as she attempts to re-enter the dating world after surviving rape.

And finally introducing Sarah London. Sarah is in her first year of studies at the University of Winnipeg. She was recently the subject of a mini-doc for The Orange Daisy Project which advocates for young women’s mental health. London will perform Wild Orchid, the monologue of a young woman with Autism who is trying to come to terms with the idea of breaking patterns.

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 wake up tomorrow with any new skill, what would it be?
Erica Wilson: Contortionist, hands down. Its always been in the back of my mind but the way I’m going its such an unreachable goal.
Sarah London: A photographic memory to expand my capacity for knowledge.
Johanna Burdon: To be able to speak, write, and understand every language.
Melanee Deshcambeault: I would love to bilingual. French would be awesome!
Cherrel Holder: Sing like Lea Michelle.

Who is a local woman that inspires you?
Cherrel Holder
: My mom, Junette Holder, because she is a single parent from a third world country who fought to bring me and my two sisters to Canada for a better life, and in doing so has taught me the value of love and forgiveness.
Erica Wilson: I have been able to meet and work with so many kick-ass women in my life, just to name a few, Madison Thomas (also the playwright for the monologue I’m performing), Frances Koncan, Victoria Perrie, Emily Barker and Dee Thomas are just doing so well for themselves.
Sarah London:Your mom…just kidding. My mom inspires me, I probably don’t know your mom.

What would you do if you won a million dollars?
Sarah London: I would invest it, learn to play the stock market, take risks. Turn that million into millions.
Johanna Burdon:
Put half of it in a fund of some sort, so that it would grow, and spend the other producing theatre/donating to theatre companies.
Erica Wilson
: I’d pay off my mom’s debt, get her into her own little house fully paid and utilities paid for up to 20 years. Once that’s done pay my rent off for a year and travel. I’m a simple gal.

If you had to start over again in a new place, where would you want to go?
Cherrel Holder: New York – especially if it was Christmas!
Melanee Deschambeault: I would love to go to Montreal and audition for the National Theater School Of Canada.
Johanna Burdon: I can’t imagine getting a better start in any other city.

We are excited to get down to work with such an amazing cast. For more info on the pieces, or to get tickets visit our website!

 

Starting Over/Finishing Stronger – Ten Powerful Monologues

What do a mystical meeting on a cycling trip across Canada, the inner monologue of a woman’s return to dating after surviving rape, and discovering the cold of Canadian winters have in common? They are all pivotal moments in women’s lives when they must face challenges and forge ahead.

This International Women’s Week Sarasvàti brings you ten engaging stories on the theme of “Starting Over.”

“Character is defined by the choices you make at junctures like these”, said Angie St. Mars co-writer of two pieces, “this year’s Cabaret showcases tangible women characters who define themselves in the moments you see played out before you. It’s exciting and scary and empowering all at once.”

After receiving an amazing array of selections from across Canada, we are honoured to share the final line-up and list of writers. This year our writing contributors include playwrights, poets, and young film makers. With a desire to reflect diverse voices and newcomer experiences our team also worked with women to put their stories in to monologue form.

Take a peek at what we have in store and check out our website for full descriptions.

  • The Pit by Alissa Watson
  • Questions and Answers by Sonya Ballantyne
  • Aabamii (Rise Up) by Madison Thomas
  • Wild Orchid by Bev Brenna
  • Three Totems by Natalie Frijia
  • Places that have no names by Fauzia Rafique
  • Diaspora by Angie St. Mars and Alka Kumar
  • You Say Tomato, I Say…Fine by Angie St. Mars from a story gathered through interviews
  • Lost Girls by Hope McIntyre with the women of IIWR-MB
    Performed and Choreographed by Sydney Macfarlane
  • In My Country by Hope McIntyre with the women of IIWR-MB

Get your tickets now. Performances on March 11 at 4pm and 8pm at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Contact Erin at touring@sarasvati.ca to book a performance at your community venue and stay tuned as we announce the actors!

 

 

Starting From Scratch – Stories of Starting Over

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“I don’t deserve this,” she thought as she arrived at the Winnipeg airport to a crowd of greeters with coats, mitts and open arms. The memory brings tears to her eyes. She felt so much love. She did not choose to come to Winnipeg, she fled persecution. Now it is her home.

Home is defined by so much more than a fixed address. As record numbers of people settle in Winnipeg they bring with them an incredible array of stories. Each story is unique; including the reasons for coming to Winnipeg and the obstacles met upon arrival. Starting Over, the theme of this year’s International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues poses many questions about new beginnings, among these questions is, “when does Winnipeg become home?”

Sarasvàti artists have been working with newcomer women through interviews and workshops in order to get to the heart of what it means to start over.  We’ve spoken to women individually, many of whom were put in touch with us through the Institute for International Women’s Rights – Manitoba. We feel privileged to hear these stories and to work with real women to share their experiences on stage.

“Although starting over can happen in many ways, transitioning to a new country is huge. These women are incredibly strong,” Artistic Director Hope McIntyre shares after conducting interviews. “The theme this year has allowed us to showcase incredible true stories, as well as written pieces by established playwrights tackling life-changing events.”

Photos from the International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues 2016: Stolen Sisters

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As with every year, we plan to tour selections throughout community venues across the city. We are looking forward to providing a platform for the stories of newcomer women and sharing them with both their community and the larger Manitoba community.

Whether starting over in a new country, a new relationship, or a new chapter of your life, this year’s Cabaret includes an incredibly diverse collection of life-changing moments as experienced by women.

Stay tuned for more details on this year’s selections that we guarantee will move and delight you! Be sure to mark March 11th in your calendar so you don’t miss the full public performances at either 4pm or 8pm. Tickets available here.