Jail Baby Opens TONIGHT!

We are just hours away from the world premiere of Jail Baby and we couldn’t be more excited! After several years of development, research and interviews, the play that takes an honest and compassionate look at the issues facing criminalized women has finally arrived.

If you are a regular reader of our blog, you already know about all of the great aspects of this production that make it a must-see. In case you haven’t been keeping up, or if you need a refresher, here are some important figures you should know:

–          5 Winnipeg lawyers participating in cameos in the play.

–          11 opportunities to see the play – come as many times as you’d like!

–          $18 is the cost of one adult ticket (price drops to $12 for students and seniors). That’s about as much as an IMAX-3D movie ticket; but nothing is more “3D” or more exciting than live theatre! We even have two Pay What You Can matinees (May 19/26) if that works for you!

–          19 justice and community organizations participating in after-show panels, discussing topics related to the play such as safety and security, the call for more prisons and connections between foster care and crime.

–          63 incarcerated or recently released women were part of the play’s creation. Women were interviewed, participated in drama workshops and storytelling sessions allowing them to be creative and resulting in an authentic and compelling play.

(photos by Janet Shum)

We are very overwhelmed and honoured to be receiving so much hype and support around this production – and it hasn’t even opened yet! Here is just a snippet of some of the press we have received thus far.

At the Edge of Canada: Indigenous Research – “Jail Baby: Stories about children born in prison

Canstar Community News Sou’Wester – “Play to portray serious issue with a dream of change

Community News Commons – “Jail Baby tackles issues of crime, poverty and motherhood on stage

CBC Scene – “New play based on real stories of incarcerated women

Canstar Community News The Times – “Jail Baby an emotional roller-coaster for actor

Breakfast Television – Interview with Hope McIntyre and Tracy Booth

Winnipeg Free Press – “Winnipeg play shines light into cells of women awaiting trial

Tickets are still available but are going fast! To book either visit www.sarasvati.ca or call 204-586-2236!

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Changing Lives: Students and Teachers Respond to ‘Diss’

Yesterday was the last show of our tour of Diss and we have completed 28 shows to 4000+ students, teachers and community members! This tour has been a success because of the wealth of encouragement and support we have received thus far! We wanted to take the time to show you some of the ways Diss has affected students and teachers. Compiled here is only a sample of the responses we have received. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we have!

photo by Janet Shum   photo by Janet Shum

“Great performance – great cast!”

“The actors were highly engaging, and the creative team on the whole did a great job with the storytelling.  The forum theatre approach offered the students an opportunity to explore in depth the hard hitting issue of new immigrant gang involvement.   Those who took part in the interventions experienced on a personal level the struggles that surround the issue.  The ensuing discussion was authentic and informed in a way that would not have been possible without the forum theatre model.”

“[The students] said at first they thought it was going to be lame but they all really got into it.  The part where the mom kicked Sam out was the part that they all commented on.  I think they can all imagine (or have had) that type of fight with their parents and it really resonated with them.”

“The next day I talked some of the students to get some feedback, and I only heard positive praise. One student is sixteen and last year was wearing gang colors and had dropped out of school. Shortly after the play I approached this same student and asked him what he thought of the the play, and he responded with honesty, “It was good”. Another student the next day confessed that he had family members involved in the gang life and was more open to talking about his concerns with the school counsellor. I believe that this play might have been the turning point in possibly changing someone’s life.”

“It was funny, interactive and it made you want to pay attention.”

“Our reaction to the production was very positive and enthusiastic. Artistic Director, Hope McIntyre, succeeds in having youth actors fully engage with the community’s youth, and thus creates positive, much needed discussion around the issues of youth and gangs. Interesting and productive discussion was very much alive within our very interactive and lively audience. Their openness to youth coincided nicely with play’s theme of newcomer youth and their struggles with integration and gangs. Overall a very positive, informative experience… it would be great to see what else Winnipeg’s art scene has to offer!”

“Showed a good message and it was super enjoyable to watch.”

“I just wanted to thank you again for helping bring DISS to our school yesterday.  We had a diverse mix of students in the audience and this helped create a productive, positive, and memorable dialogue.  Such a great play and a great cast that connected well to our high school kids. Loved it.  Just loved it.”

Thanks again to all of those who attended shows at their school, community groups or the free show at the Winnipeg Public Library! Thank you as well to ArtCity, Evolution AV, the Manitoba Arts Council, The Winnipeg Arts Council, Manitoba Community Services Council Inc, the Richardson Foundation and the Winnipeg Foundation! Stay tuned for even more inspiring and energetic productions throughout our 2012-2013 theatre season! For more information on what we have to offer, visit www.sarasvati.ca!

Diss Evolution AV thanks

EDEN Playwright’s Log – After Opening

Producing a new play is a very risky business. It is untested material and not known to audiences. It also feels like a shot in the dark, not knowing how it will play before an audience until it is actually in front of the audience. After the countless hours of work leading up to opening, it feels odd to settle in to a run. The work doesn’t stop on opening night though. The show keeps growing as the actors discover new moments and different audiences bring different energies. As a playwright, you learn something new about the piece at every performance. You get lots of feedback from the audience and from watching moments played over and over again.

And then there are the reviews! One of the most difficult parts of the business. Very necessary but can be very difficult. Many theatre artists, particularly actors, choose not to read them until after the run. A good review can make you over confident and as a result you stop working at it. A poor review can make you second guess everything and begin to hesitate in performance. In the long run they can be informative, but also need to be taken alongside the larger feedback of audiences. I’m grateful that Winnipeg allows for a diversity of responses to produced plays. Many of my colleagues in New York have found a single review from the New York Times can make or break their play. A scary thought as I’m sure everyone has had the experience of seeing a show that was poorly reviewed and loving it. Good theatre is certainly not an objective thing. I’ve always loved discussing plays in class with my students and finding widely different responses. That is the beauty of art.

Kevin P. Gabel as Adam; photo by Janet Shum

Last week I went with a couple of actors to talk to youth in a drama club at IRCOM (Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba). They are coming to see the show next week and we wanted to introduce them to the play first. They had such great questions about theatre, both the profession and the behind the scenes magic. They were shocked to hear how long I’d been working on the play. To date they said the theatre they had seen was boring. We certainly don’t think they will be bored by EDEN, so I challenged them to let me know afterwards what they think. One young man replied that it would be horrible if it was boring after all the years of work I put in. Others jumped in by echoing something I had said earlier, as artists we learn from all experiences and the only way to develop our craft is to take risks and learn from them. In fact, I just read an interesting article by Nicholas Kazan (Elia Kazan’s son). Apparently Arthur Miller was told to make many changes to Death of a Salesman because it was unproducable with the flashbacks. He decided to go ahead as written and if it failed at least it would fail as he intended it rather than making changes and never knowing if his initial impulses were right. Such is the leap of faith we make as playwrights!

Many have been asking what the next steps are with a new play after the world premiere. In most cases, the playwright learns a lot from that first production and makes changes afterwards. This new version of the script is then sent out to other theatres in hopes of a second production. Something that is rare in Canadian theatre. A world premiere has a certain cache but second productions are very difficult to secure. Ideally after the premiere you can also get the script published, which opens it up to other markets including the possibilities of it being studied in classrooms and read by theatre lovers who may never have the opportunity to see the show. With a piece as large as EDEN, a second production in Winnipeg or a tour of this production are not likely to happen. That means that the odds are this will be the only chance for Winnipeg audiences to experience the show!

With 11 more shows, I hope to continue to learn from the piece, the audiences and the beautiful work the actors are doing! I would certainly love thoughts from anyone in the audience!

Full details on the EDEN web page including a photo gallery with new images from our dress rehearsal.

Tom Soares and Marsha Knight in EDEN; photo by Janet Shum

EDEN Log – Week 3

EDEN Playwright’s Log – Hope McIntyre

Yesterday we moved out of the rehearsal hall! Monday we load in to the theatre and we open on Friday. Hard to believe how quickly the time is going. We have an intensive four days of tech coming up but it is exciting to see it take shape. Tracy Penner, our fabulous Delilah in the play, said to me yesterday “your baby is almost done.” After so many years of working on the piece it does feel very much like I’ve created something very personal, although I can’t compare it to a human child, it will be a very special thing to share it with the world as well as being extremely nerve-wracking. At the same time it won’t ever feel like it is complete. I’m sure there will be adjustments after seeing it before an audience and hopefully with publication and second production…

Andrea del Campo and Tracy Penner in EDEN; photo by Janet Shum

This week was a mix of run-throughs of the play, working sections that needed cleaning up, costume fittings and final videotaping. The actors have made huge leaps thanks to director Sharon Bajer. It was great to have Wab Kinew take on the role of Eduardo, a character who appears on video at a key moment in the play. Our tech genius, Chris Coyne, also brought cameras in so the actors could start playing around with the live video feed. It looks really cool and really helps capture the world of the play. A key idea in the play is the power that comes with the control of the air waves.

Music was also starting to be integrated by yesterday and it adds a whole other element to the play. It will be amazing to see it on stage and the lighting design by Dean Cowieson will certainly add a great deal to Kim Griffin’s stark set design. After seeing what great work Jordan Popowich did with the promo video, I can’t wait to see the video sequences he has created for the play. There are some pretty crazy dream sequences that I haven’t seen yet!

It’s also really neat to see how Ali Fulmyk, our props coordinator extraordinaire has dealt with some of the challenges like a video camera that gets smashed to the ground in every performance. Not to mention military uniforms, quick changes and an array of dirtied-up clothes that our costume designer, Kelsey Noren, has had to deal with.

Of course the week before opening also means ramping up with media coverage and promotions. Our administrator, Robyn Pooley, has been very busy in the office working on all of this. Actor Andrea del Campo was on both CKUW’s Say It Sista and Eat Your Arts and Vegetables last Thursday. Marsha Knight will be on the NCI morning show on Tuesday and we hope to have a wide array of media out to our media call on April 25th.

Marsha Knight and Ti Hallas in EDEN; photo by Janet Shum

I’m starting to feel like the host of a party, hoping lots of people will show up. Winnipeg is so great, but there is always lots going on. I can’t wait to share the play and mostly the great work all of these artists have been doing. Hopefully everyone can make it out!

For performance dates and tickets check out the EDEN web page.