Unleashing Our Potential

We are launching into 2018 with a game-changer! Thanks to capacity building support from the Winnipeg Foundation, Sarasvàti Productions is welcoming a new full-time member to the team!


“The potential of Sarasvàti Productions to transform society through theatre has just been unleashed,” says Judy Wasylycia-Leis, President of our Board of Directors, “from the generous capacity-building support of the Winnipeg Foundation comes the promise of sustainability and the strength to grow as a force for community resilience and reconciliation.”

Administrative support may not sound like a glamorous change, but when you are a small non-profit this kind of support makes a phenomenal impact. The Winnipeg Foundation’s funding will support a full-time Administrator for three years. This human resource injection will helps us to strengthen our base so that we can fulfill our mission to transform society through theatre.


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Judy Wasylycia-Leis


“What a boost this grant means for our ability to offer authentic and direct cultural experiences at the grassroots level, to contribute to community vitality and identity, and to help change the world one play at a time”, says Judy.

This fall we also initiated additional capacity-building work thanks to support from Manitoba Community Services Council. This has allowed us to look at our office systems, ticketing and will also lead to important community consultations this winter.


We at Sarasvàti Productions are excited to take things to the next level in 2018! Stay tuned as we announce our new team member, launch new systems and invite our community to share their thoughts on the future.

Jail Baby A Resounding Success!

On behalf of the staff, cast and crew, we would like to thank everyone for coming out and supporting the world premiere of Jail Baby. Phew! What a ride it’s been! I remember first reading the script months ago and thinking, “Wow, this is going to be big. This is going to have an impact.” Everyone I have spoken with who has seen the show has been in complete awe of its honesty, its intensity and its story. The play inspired dialogue that has continued well past the post-show panels, car rides and home and has now become part of the public discussion. Now that I have finished my year-long position with Sarasvàti Productions, I can proudly say that I have been a part of a company that inspired positive social change, all while maintaining artistic excellence and performing some kick-ass theatre! I am looking forward to future events and will be sitting in the audience with a giant smile on my face!
–Tali Sitschkar

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We are pleased to present one last community performance tonight, May 30, at the Indian and Metis Friendship Centre. Tea & Bannock with drumming by Lorne Redsky and dancing by Shanley Spence will take place when the doors open at 6:30pm and then Jail Baby will take the stage at 8pm. Tickets are just $5!

Here are just a few of the responses we’ve received thus far from audiences and supporters:

Barbara Toews – Provincial Council of Women
Jail Baby is transformational theatre at its best. It’s a tough story, but it was told with sensitivity and just enough humour to give the audience a break from the reality of the difficult circumstances the women in the play found themselves in. Jail Baby draws audience members into that environment for 90 minutes. It would be wonderful if every Canadian could have this experience. Perhaps if our Minister of Public Security, Vic Toews, understood the tragedy of the lives of the women portrayed in this play, he would invest money into programs that would help change lives through education and employment and not look to more jails as the answer!

Judy Wasylycia-Leis – former Member of Parliament
Jail Baby is theatre at its finest. It entertains, educates and challenges. It is filled with edge-of-the-seat suspense, a rich script made more powerful by the authenticity of the voices, and thought-provoking drama that forces a rethinking on every aspect of our corrections system from the need to shackle women while giving birth in prison to the root causes of disproportionate incarceration among aboriginal women. Not since Agnes McPhail, the first woman MP in Canada, stood in the House of Commons brandishing a whip used against female inmates, has anything challenged our treatment of women in Canadian Corrections like Jail Baby.

Susan Horodyska – Women’s Enterprise Centre
Sarasvàti Productions brings deeply rooted contemporary issues to the stage with Jail Baby. Hard realities are delivered with complexity and satire mixed with the hope of healing. The play invites and inspires awareness, dialogue and action about important issues facing all of us today, locally and across Turtle Island/Canada.

Ace Burpee Takes Home the Trophy!

What an amazing evening packed full of entertainment! The first annual So You Think You Can Act was a huge success. All the celebrities brought their A-game to the event and surpassed expectations with solid performances of the nine scenes in the evening. In addition, emcee Big Daddy Tazz kept the audience entertained every moment and played off the panel of judges. Lee White, Kayla Gordon and Bob Metcalfe were impressive in terms of their ability to come up with insightful, hilarious and bizarre commentary that had the audience booing, cheering, laughing and thoroughly engaged.

Although for some celebrities the event was their first foray on stage, they all took risks and really enjoyed themselves. They all deserve an award for having the guts to take on this challenge and for being such great sports no matter what the judges threw at them. Ultimately the audience did cast their ballots and select the first ever So You Think You Can Act winner. Although Al Simmons was the favourite to win in the advance polls, it was Ace Burpee who walked away with the trophy. His scene with mother, Jane, was certainly a big hit. Perhaps it was just his bad wig, bizarre character physicality and ridiculous southern accent but the performance won over the audience. This will likely be the only time the Hot 103 morning host wins an Oscar (the trophy had an Oscar figure perched on top).

Jane Burpee and Ace Burpee accepting the trophy. Photo by Janet Shum.

John Lu, who had flown in from Montreal that very day, and Sylvia Kuzyk, who was a convincing vixen, were the runners-up. John wowed the audience with his natural stage ability and great parody of bad Asian films opposite scene partner Alissa Watson. Sylvia had the grace and airs down pat for a famous actress, a lovely contrast to Toni Reimer’s mousy character who has come pleading for her husband back.

Every celebrity was memorable though. Al Simmons was first on stage and not only did he make an entrance but he also threw himself at the judges afterwards, to the shock of his scene partner Nan Fewchuk. Tracy Koga was charming and a joy to watch as she sped through a relationship with actor Tyhr Trubiak. Laurie Mustard was so natural on stage, everyone had to wonder if he’d missed his calling, plus he played beautifully off scene partner Lois Brothers. Howard Mandshein had a chance to rock out and was the perfect straight man to partner Danielle Savage’s neurotic character in How It Works. In yellow rain coat, boots and covered in mud Judy Wasylycia-Leis made quite the entrance for her scene with Kevin Anderson. Of course the judges were able to play off of the notion of a former politician playing a character involved in a cover-up! Randall King brought his brother’s words to life in David King’s Life Skills and managed to remain focused even when opposite him Cheryl Gensiorek was eating fettuccini with her bare hands.

If all of that wasn’t enough the audience also partook of the raffle featuring amazing prizes, enjoyed violinist John Racaru in the lobby before the event as well as wine and cheese post event.

In fact the audience was amazing and helped to make it a perfect night out!

The response overall has been overwhelming. It will be difficult to top it next year, but we will certainly try!

Who Will Win the Raffle Prizes at So You Think You Can Act? It Could Be You!

Learn about the So You Think You Can Act Raffle from Sarasvàti Productions’ Administrator Robyn Pooley!

A big part of So You Think You Can Act on February 16th, aside from watching our celebrities rock the stage, is the raffle!

The prizes we have are amazing – the generosity of theatres, companies, and individuals has been astounding! The outpouring of support from the places approached for So You Think You Can Act donations will go a long way to help fund Sarasvàti Productions’ upcoming projects! With March’s International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues, the world premiere of EDEN coming up fast, FemFest’s 10th anniversary in the fall and plans for another school tour tackling the issue of gang recruitment, there is certainly a lot of important work that the event will be supporting.

All of the prizes really are amazing, but there are a couple that I think everyone is going to want! One of the big prizes is a voucher for a Fall 2012 Acting Class at Prairie Theatre Exchange valued at $400! If any aspiring actors are out there, this is the prize they’ll want to win!

All of the arts organizations in the city were incredibly generous, and it just goes to show how tight the community really is. We all support each other, and want to see one another thrive! The prizes up for grabs from the arts community include:

  • Two tickets to Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s Next To Normal
  • Two tickets to Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Giselle
  • Two tickets to Manitoba Opera’s The Daughter of the Regiment
  • Two tickets to Prarie Theatre Exchange’s Till It Hurts
  • Two tickets to the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s Parker Plays Brahms
  • Four tickets to Winnipeg Contemporary Dancers’ 97 Positions of the Heart
  • Two tickets to Winnipeg Studio Theatre’s My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding
  • Two tickets to Manitoba Theatre for Young People’s MacHomer
  • And much much more!

There is also some lovely schwag, that we’ve been looking at longingly in the office. Many of these donations are likely to ignite ticket buying. For the ladies, we’ve got a giant gift basket from Love Nest valued at $200 that will be the perfect post Valentine’s Day pick me up. We have a beautiful Italian ring with a tiny diamond from Vandenberg’s Fine Jewlery, we have chocolates from the best place in the city, Chocolatier Constance Popp Shop,  a beautiful package from Sonya’s Flowers that includes a purse, and MUCH more!

For the men, we’ve got an Italian sterling silver and wood bracelet from Vandenberg’s Fine Jewelry, comic books from Cover to Cover, tickets to Rumours Comedy Club, and a GORGEOUS Sun Ice TSN winter coat donated by John Lu! There’s so much more that has been so graciously donated to us for So You Think You Can Act, but you’ll have to come to the event to see it!

To view the full list of So You Think You Can Act Raffle Prizes, click here!

Tickets for the Raffle will be priced at 1 for $2, 3 for $5, and 15 for $20!  You can buy them in the lobby before the event, and at intermission. At the end of the night, we draw for the winners!

All these donations are going to make up twelve fantastic packages -the winners will be beyond happy!

So, will you be one of the lucky winners at So You Think You Can Act? We hope so! We hope to see you on February 16th at 8pm, Gas Station Arts Centre! Tickets are limited so purchase yours in advance on our website or call us at 586-2236.

Raffle License # MGCC-5542-RF

Image of Winner by Salvatore Vuono/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net Salvatore’s portfolio can be found here

Who Do You Think Will Win So You Think You Can Act? Vote Here!

Who do you think will win Feb. 16th???

Elections have polls to help predict the results so we thought it would be fun to see who the frontrunners are for our first annual So You Think You Can Act. Although the audience at the event will have the final say after watching our celebrities’ performances, let’s see if you can predict the strongest performer in our advance poll.

Vote here to predict the winner of So You Think You Can Act and you could win a Sarasvati Prize Package! Prize Package includes tickets to the World Premiere of EDEN!

All voters will be put into a draw and the winner will be chosen randomly.  VOTE NOW!

(if you would like to be eligible for the prize draw you must submit your name and e-mail address to info@sarasvati.ca after voting, the winner will then be contacted to pick-up the prize)

So You Think You Can Act runs Feb. 16th 8:00 pm at the Gas Station Arts Centre. Tickets are $25 and include a wine reception. There is limited seating so don’t forget to buy tickets online at www.sarasvati.ca or reserve by calling 586-2236.

Will You Vote for Judy Wasylycia-Leis?

We are so pleased to welcome Judy Wasylycia-Leis to the So You Think You Can Act line-up!  Will Judy take home all the votes and the coveted trophy?  Stay tuned!

Involved in public service all her adult life, Judy served as Manitoba’s Culture Minister before working as MP for Winnipeg North from 1997 – 2010.  During her time in Ottawa, Judy was critic of Heath, Finance, Status of Women, Immigration and Persons with Disabilities.

After running in the 2010 Winnipeg mayoral campaign, Judy became active in a number of organizations including Northend Stella Community Ministry, Community Ventures and Heifer Canada.  She has also spent time in Jordan on a parliamentary strengthening initiative and just completed a dozen townhalls in Ontario as Chair of the Public Services Foundation of Canada.

We are so excited to see Judy test out her acting skills!  Come see Judy win over voters at So You Think You Can Act!

Join us February 16th at 8pm, Gas Station Arts Centre! Tickets are limited so purchase yours in advance on our website or by calling 586-2236.

Sylvia Kuzyk – Actor in So You Think You Can Act!

We all know and love Sylvia Kuzyk from her nearly thirty-eight year career with CTV, but in February we will be able to see her in a new role – actor! Sylvia is taking part in our inaugural fundraiser So You Think You Can Act, taking place on Febrary 16th 8pm at the Gas Station Arts Centre.

Sylvia will take part in So You Think You Can Act Feb. 16th!

So You Think You Can Act is a fun fundraiser that features local celebrities testing out their acting chops in front of a panel of judges and an audience. The line up includes Ace Burpee, Randall King, Tracy Koga, John Lu, Howard Mandshein, Laurie Mustard, Al Simmons, Judy Wasylycia-Leis, and….Sylvia Kuzyk!

The theme of this year’s So You Think You Can Act is “Love Gone Wrong”, and we are excited to see our celebrites take on scenes with local actors about unrequited love, bad break-ups and failed wooing. As the holidays approach, we think it’s a perfect time to get to know one of our celebrities better. Sit back and relax as we take a look at Sylvia’s amazing life!

Sylvia Kuzyk is a veteran television news broadcaster who spent most of her nearly 38 year career at CTV Winnipeg, formerly CKY Television.

For years Sylvia was CTV’s weather specialist, endorsed by the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society. She was committed to bringing Manitobans forecasts they could trust. She was also a news interviewer and host/producer of CTV Winnipeg’s arts and entertainment segment “Spotlight”. One of western Canada’s first women in news broadcasting, Kuzyk started her career at CTV as a weather anchor. Over the years she performed many roles including late night and 6:00 p.m. news anchor/editor/producer and host/producer of several daily and weekly interview shows.

Over the years, Sylvia Kuzyk has won numerous public service awards from such organizations as the Kidney Foundation of Canada (1988), the John Alexander Media Award for her interview series “Multiple Sclerosis: The Baffling Disease” (1994)… and the Manitoba Volunteerism Award for Media (1996). She was awarded the Toastmasters International Communication and Leadership Award in 1999.

Sylvia has also won numerous awards and honours for her work. In 2004, Kuzyk won the YM/YWCA Women of Distinction Award in Media and Communications. In 2005 the Broadcasters Association of Manitoba honoured Kuzyk with the Broadcast Excellence Award for her work in the Manitoba broadcast industry… and in 2010 she was presented with the RTNDA Canada (Canadian Radio and Television News Directors Association) Lifetime Achievement Award, Prairie Region.

This year in September 2011, Sylvia was again honoured by the Broadcasters Association of Manitoba with the Hall of Fame Award for significant contribution to the broadcast industry in Manitoba. Most recently, in October 2011, she was awarded the Inspiring Life Award by the Rotary Club of Winnipeg, Fort Garry and was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International “for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among peoples of the world.”

One of Sylvia’s great honours came in 2009 when she was invested into the Order of Manitoba.

She was born in Berlin, Germany and immigrated to Manitoba as a young child.  She is still fluent in German. Sylvia loves to call Winnipeg home and is an ardent promoter of this city and province.

Sylvia on CTV

We think Sylvia Kuzyk is a Winnipeg gem. She is well deserving of all her accolades and she was a comfort to so many people every night on CTV. We are so excited to have Sylvia on board for So You Think You Can Act, and we can’t wait to see her on stage!

To buy tickets to see Sylvia in So You Think You Can Act go to our website or call 586-2236. So You Think You Can Act runs February 16th 8:00 pm at the Gas Station Arts Centre.  Tickets are $25 and include a wine reception.