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

Making Their Mark: ‘Diss’ Actor Bios Part 2

WOW! Last night we performed our one-night only free showing of Diss to a packed house and extremely enthusiastic audience! The outpour of positive feedback and support for the show proves that audiences are hungry for stories of real people and real lives. Diss tackles peer pressure, youth gangs and gun violence in an honest and compelling way, and our audiences are really relating to its message. We cannot wait to continue the tour!

As promised, here is part 2 of our actor biography series. Today we feature the three who play the family at the centre of the story. Their story represents just one of (too) many immigrant families who struggle to find their place and sense of purpose in a new city.

  • Lacina Dembélé is Sam, a teenager eager to fit in as a Canadian. Lacina was born in a village named Kolia situated in the Ivory Coast. He spent a small part of his childhood in Sinfra and Abidjan then came to Winnipeg at the age of 4. At 11 years old, he learned how to play the flute then later the guitar, piano and drums. Emerging in the acting scene, he has appeared in Ripple Effect with Sarasvàti, at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, Festival Théatre Jeunesse and The Festival AFRIK. Lacina has the toughest character journey in the play and on top of that has to do all the beat boxing!
  • Cherrel Holder  plays Sam’s sister Tracy who fights to keep her brother from making the wrong choices.Cherrel was born in Trinidad and moved to Canada at the age of 11. Cherrel began acting in theatre in Junior High and continued throughout High School at Vincent Massey Collegiate, where she also began doing musical theatre, and exploring script writing. In grade 11 Cherrel entered the Scirocco High school Playwriting Competition and had her script Caroline performed on the MTC Warehouse stage. Cherrel graduated High School at the age of 17 with the highest mark in Theatre. Cherrel is now continuing her education in dance and does on-screen, theatre, and musical theatre work in her spare time. In Diss you not only get to see her acting skills but she raps and dances!
  • Lorraine James plays the mother, Maizie, who struggles to pay the bills and keep her family together.Lorraine goes back & forth with entry-level jobs in the service industry, pursuing her love of acting for film (You Kill Me), television (Cashing In), commercials (With Child, Without Alcohol) and theatre (Sarasvàti Productions, Fantasy Theatre for Children, Winnipeg/Vancouver Fringe Festival, Vancouver Theatre Sports League, Vancouver Playhouse, Theatre in the Raw and Walterdale Playhouse). Although the oldest cast member, Lorraine has learned to rap for the play and shows that she is truly young at heart!

Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks to hear what youth say about the show!