Real people, real stories, on loan for discussion

Is it possible to challenge prejudice through one conversation with a stranger?

If you ask the creators of the Human Library™ they’ll tell you that it is in fact one of the most effective ways.

FemFest2017 and the Winnipeg Public Library are proud to present The Human Library™ right here in Winnipeg.

“We need a space for dialogue about tough issues that we wouldn’t address in the supermarket”, says Ronni Abergel, a Human Library creator.

“We’re navigating through diversity by putting people in boxes. We don’t go back to the box and check if what’s in the box is in accordance with the label we put on that box,” he continued, “I do it also. I do it every day. I do it with the speakers, I do it with people I meet. I gather a little bit of information and I use that information to put them in a box.”

Abergel spoke in Groningen at a Tedx talk, “You can go to the Human Library and challenge your own stereotypes, challenge your prejudices. You have to be a little brave because you have to fess up. You have to admit to yourself that you’re thinking things about other people-probably things that you shouldn’t be thinking, but you’re doing that for your own comfort.”

The local Human Books come from all backgrounds and ways of life, but they all have one thing in common, for different reasons they are often subjected to stereotyping or prejudice. Imagine getting to sit down with some of these amazing human books:

 

Nigel Bart

Book Title: Whale Calling and the Purpose of a Rabbit

Nigel Bart - HeadshotNigel tells his story from early childhood to present about living with schizophrenia, dealing with the additional issues that come with mental illness, and recovering as the successful founder of Artbeat Studio.

 

Sadie Phoenix Lavoie

Sadie-Phoenix Lavoie - HeadshotBook Title: Resilience through art and literature

Resilience. Decolonization. Matriarchy. How do we bring matriarchal principles back to the Indigenous world?

 

Razak Iyal

Book Title: The Struggle of Refugees

Refugees are stranded around the world, struggling to maintain hope. Razak arrived in Canada as a refugee, lost his fingers to frostbite, and has overcome one of the biggest challenges of his life. This is a story about human rights.

 

Lara Rae - Headshot_smallerLara Rae

Book Title: Becoming Lara

A Life in Progress. Lara Rae is a proud transgender woman and a writer and comedian. She is an artistic director who uses creativity and life experiences to promote understanding not just for herself, but for other marginalized people.

 

 

 

RACHEL SMITH headshot cropped for blogRachel Smith

Book Title: Finding the Gift: How to Face Life’s Challenges

Most people do not expect to be a caregiver when they are in their mid-twenties. Rachel’s father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease then later, Lewy Body Dementia. Rachel’s hope is that by sharing her story she can help others with their own challenges.

 

The Human Library takes place on the second floor of the Millennium Library during these times:
    Thursday, September 21: 4-8 pm

    Friday, September 22: 1-4 pm

    Saturday, September 23: 1-4 pm

This is just a sample of what will be available to readers. Click here for more information, updates on additional books and details on how to reserve a Human Book visit.

 

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Opening with a Bang!

With aerial acrobatics, high-energy contemporary dance, and the side-splitting comedic offerings of Winnipeg’s funniest performers, it’s no doubt Sarasvàti knows how to throw a party!

FemFest 2016: Transformation kicks off with the FemFest Opening Night Cabaret. The annual variety show is jam-packed with some of the most talented entertainers this city has to offer; everything from music, dance, comedy, theatre and film. Now, feast your eyes and ears on the incredibly entertaining line-up of the FemFest 2016 Opening Night Cabaret!

Lara Rae, Comedian/Host – Guiding you through the evening’s festivities will be stand-up comedian and Winnipeg Comedy Fest Artistic Director, Lara Rae.

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Comedian Lara Rae, Photo:Ruth Bonneville

Lara Rae is the founding Artistic Director of the Winnipeg Comedy Festival. She was the Just For Laughs National Champion at the Homegrown Comedy Competition in Montreal in 2000 and won a Gemini Award and Prix Roma Prize from Italy for her work on Little Mosque on the Prairie. She is a regular instructor at the McNally Robinson Community classroom on opera, comedy and various genres of literature. She’ll be bringing the cabaret a taste of her signature wit and we couldn’t be happier to have her.

Robyn Slade & co., 50/50  – Serving up a delightful dash of improv-theatre fusion is Robyn Slade & co. With 50/50, one actor memorizes lines from a unique play and is paired with an improviser who has no idea what their partner has rehearsed. This combo is sure to bring hilarious and unexpected entertainment.

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Crash Site by Sonya Ballantyne

Sonya Ballantyne, Filmmaker, Crash Site – Originally from Misipawistik Cree Nation, Ballantyne is a self-proclaimed nerd whose work is infused with iconic comic book colours and feel. A graduate of the National Screen Institute New Voices program, Ballantyne uses her films to address issues facing aboriginal women and girls. She’ll be presenting a screening of her new animated film, Crash Site, about a young girl who meets a superhero.

Raye Anderson, Pearl in the Egg- Enjoy a solo performance by theatre artist and former theatre educator, Raye Anderson. She’ll present her new piece, Pearl in the Egg. The work combines storytelling, spoken word and visual arts to reclaim the power of older women storytellers and their stories.

Alissa Watson and Spenser Payne, Buzzkill and Tattletale in: You Win Some, You Lose Most – The Winnipeg clown duo behind The Red Nose Diaries is spending the summer entertaining the masses at the Winnipeg and Edmonton Fringe Fests with THE POLKA DOTS OF DEATH: The Making of the Supervillain. The duo makes their triumph return at the opening cabaret with Buzzkill and Tattletale in: You Win Some, You Lose Most.

Lost Jill-cabaret

Lost, Dancer: Jillian Groening Photo: Bruce Monk

Gearshifting, Lost – Contemporary dance company Gearshifting will be storming the stage with their intricately moving piece, Lost. Featuring dancers Jillian Groening, Elise Page and Carol-Ann Bohrn with choreography by Jolene Bailie, the audience will surely be mesmerized by the poetry hidden in human movement.

Jennifer Genest, Break the Silence – Genest will light up the night with her famous LED glow poi dance. Genest creates dramatic, colourful images in darkened spaces through her use of rhythmical movements and geometric patterns. Infusing her routine with contemporary dance, Break the Silence, will be an awe-inspiring show.

Ruth Baines, Wolf Woman – Bringing a different exploration of physical storytelling, is aerial artist Ruth Baines. Baines is known for her beloved blend of theatrical aerial dance and monologue. Presenting her latest gravity-defying act, Wolf Woman, Baines will be treating the audience to sky-high entertainment.

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Wolf Woman, Ruth Baines. Photo: Leif Norman

The entertainment doesn’t stop there. Throughout the evening, the lobby will be packed with amazing artwork from local visual artists, Teresa-Lee Cooke, Debbie Machula and Susan Aydan Abbott. We’ll also have work by graphic artist Autumn Crossman-Serb, whose comics feature Muslims and women of colour as protagonists.

And lastly, it wouldn’t be a party without treats and the chance to mingle and meet the artists, so of course we have that too. We’ll have delectable dainties and delicious food with an array of fun-filled raffle prizes from vendors across the city.

Stay tuned for more artists and news to be announced.

FemFest 2016 Opening Night Cabaret takes place September 17, 2016 at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (University of Winnipeg). Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at femfest.ca or by calling 204-586-2336.

Non-stop fun, antics, surprises…

We wanted an audience point of view of this year’s All-Star fundraiser, so here is a response from guest blogger Meg Crane.

Sarasvàti Productions presented a hilarious three-in-one performance at the Gas Station Arts Centre on Feb. 17. The fifth annual So You Think You Can Act fundraiser packed together short skits, improv and stand-up comedy for a night of entertainment, good food and tons of prizes.

This year was the All-Star Edition of the event, so winners from past four years were brought back to compete against one another.

Before a crowded theatre, Big Daddy Taz, Jenna Khan, Tracy Koga, Kerri Salki, Al Simmons and Troy Westwood tried their hands at acting. These local celebs, none of whom have a theatre background, were partnered with local actors Grant Burr, Kevin Ramberran, Johanna Burdon, Ian Bastin, Cheryl Gensiorek and Lyle Morris. We were promised by the evening’s emcee Lara Rae that the skits would have minimal props and costumes, and that the actors would be reading from the script.

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Anticipating hilarious stumbles over lines and bad acting, the audience was in for a surprise. The celebrities must have really wanted the trophy—which Lara Rae described as looking like something from a children’s beauty pageant—because they showed up costumed, with their lines mostly memorized and ready to give it their all.

This didn’t matter too much to judge Andrea del Campo. She was more interested in the costumes, collecting bits from each scene as she gave scores of 8 (or infinity?), 200 and D. Fellow judges Pablo Felices-Luna and Ari Weinberg dished out some solid advice, such as that it’s ideal for male actors to whip off their jackets during a performance to entice onlookers. Lara Rae had to agree.

But their opinions ultimately didn’t matter in deciding the winner. The audience cast their ballots and awarded the trophy to Al Simmons, whose skit was about an actor who was getting too old to be cast in roles.

Everyone left with more than memories of the non-stop jokes of the evening. Baskets filled with thousands of dollars’ worth of prizes were raffled off at the end of the night and several guests left with more than $400 worth of swag.

As if Sarasvàti didn’t give the audience enough, the lobby was packed with food from Charisma Of India and Jonnies Sticky Buns when the show was over. Each guest was even provided with a free glass of wine.

If you missed it, you missed out. The All-Star Edition of So You Think You Can Act won’t happen again, at least for a few years, because new celebs need to be given the chance to shine on stage.

Why So You Think You Can Act?

We’re so excited, So You Think You Can Act All-Star Edition is only 6 days away, but why should you come? In this blog, we’ve got the answer, or rather the answers, for those of you still on the fence!

 

  1. It’s a fun fundraiser! What’s better than a fundraiser for a non-profit theatre company? A fun fundraiser! We are dedicated to creating transformative theatre, and our next production is a community-based project on mental health. After an interview for the project, one person battling mental illness said “thanks for letting us get our stories out.” Monies raised will support this important initiative! Plus you will have a fun time drinking wine, eating great food and watching your favourite local celebrities try their hand at acting.
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    Big Daddy Tazz at his rehearsal with local actor Kevin Ramberran!

    Six All-Star Local Celebrities! To celebrate the fifth year of the fundraiser we’ve brought back past winners and favourite competitors to vie for the coveted trophy. We’ve got Big Daddy Tazz, Jenna Khan, Kerri Salki, Al Simmons, and Troy Westwood all coming back to reclaim their title, or redeem themselves by winning it this year. These celebrities are famous for things other than theatre, their only crack at acting was during their last SYTYCA competition, come see if they’ve been practicing!

  3. Awesome Raffle Prizes! As is tradition we’ve collected a wide variety of amazing raffle prizes for you to try your luck with. We’ve got tickets to Rainbow Stage, Theatre Projects Manitoba, Winnipeg Jewish Theatre, Manitoba Opera, Winnipeg Folk Fest, and more. We’ve got gift certificates for acting classes, shopping, car washes, and more. We’ve got a signed Blue Bombers football, a framed, signed Winnipeg Jets photo, and we’ve got even more than that! Come see for yourself before the show and at intermission.
  4. Critical Theatre Professional Judges! All three of our judges are theatre professionals who have vowed not to go easy on our celebrities. Ari Weinberg, Artistic Director of Winnipeg Jewish Theatre, and Andrea del Campo, improv and actor extraordinaire, have promised to be especially tough. Pablo Felices-Luna, Artistic Director of Manitoba Theatre for Young People, on the other hand is our wild card, will he turn out to be the nicest judge of the bunch or the harshest? Find out on February 17th!
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    Our emcee, Lara Rae!

    A Hilarious Emcee! Our emcee, aka our referee, will keep everything under control with her quick wit and comedy skills. Lara Rae is the Artistic Director of the Winnipeg Comedy Club after all, so she knows what she’s doing. She will be joined by six fellow local actors who will be acting with our celebrities, filling our stage with a lot of laughs and talent.

  6. Great Wine Reception! After the winner has been crowned, it’s off to the lobby for great food and wine! Included with the ticket price is a glass of wine and food from Charisma of India, Jonnie’s Sticky Buns, and Grrrumpy’s Pizza & Café. Plus our celebrities will be out there too either celebrating their win or dealing with their loss – but with an evening this fun no one can really lose!

What better way is there to spend a night? Don’t miss out, and get your tickets now for So You Think You Can Act on Wednesday February 17th at the Gas Station Theatre! Tickets for the fundraiser are $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Phone 204-586-2236, or click here to get your tickets now!

 

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Raffle licence (#MGCC5542)

Listen Here, You Celebrities!

As our six returning celebrity champions prepare to compete for the ultimate title in So You Think You Can Act 2016, our judges weigh-in on the incredible challenge that awaits them.

Ari Weinberg.JPGWhile barely suppressing his excitement for this highly anticipated battle, judge Ari Weinberg, Artistic Director of Winnipeg Jewish Theatre laid out his expectations: “I am expecting a full on West Side Story- type rumble of acting talent; I know the competition is going to be that fierce!”

Prepare yourselves for a judge who self-describes as “one part Judge Judy, one part Blake Shelton with a dash of Stanislavsky.” Weinberg is already throwing out challenges to competitors, “I’d like to challenge all the competitors to work on their voices- first and foremost you must be heard.” Celebrities would be wise to heed that call and come prepared to project Ari Weinberg right out of the water if they hope to impress him. I asked Ari if he had any advice for the celebrity competitors, to which he replied, “BRING IT ON!!!!” A message that has now set the tone for the entire competition.

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When I caught up with judge Andrea del Campo, actor and founding member of Outside Joke I was immediately taken aback by her intimidating disposition and stern stance on the subject of being a judge. She offered but one succinct sentiment which she stated ruthlessly enough to make any competitors blood run cold: “I expect blinding success or devastating failure from the competitors. Anything between is trivial.”As she effortlessly mounted her all-white thoroughbed I implored her to offer competitors some words of advice. She said nothing as she rode off into the distance. I deduce that competitors will face the challenge of a lifetime if they aim to impress her.

Pablo photo.jpgLastly, I spoke with Artistic director of MTYPjudge Pablo Felices-Luna who cautioned competitors about his style of judgement, “think of me as your good cop trying to be the bad cop. It works out to a mildly irritated cop.”Is Pablo a window of hope for our competitors, or is he their worst nightmare? There’s only one way to find out.

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And finally, our ref and emcee for the evening, Artistic Director of the Winnipeg Comedy Festival Lara Rae describes herself as “fair, but firm.” But as they say in sports games, ‘She who undervalues the referee undervalues the win.’ Lara explains that she is new to gender transition and therefore possesses “the combined wisdom of menopause with the fierce insanity of late puberty.”

She will personally “challenge every performer to take huge risks and be true to themselves regardless of how others might react.”

Stakes are high. Our competitors have their work cut out for them. You can catch the live action rumble of So You Think You Can Act on February 17 7:00 pm at the Gas Station Arts Centre. Tickets for the fundraiser are $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Phone 204-586-2236, or visit our website to get your tickets now.

 

 

 

Be It Resolved!

Happy New Year!! Still can’t decide on your New Year’s resolution? Well we have something to help you pull out of the post-holiday winter blues. It’s great for self-care, you could take home amazing prizes and be treated like a VIP. Here are the top 5 reasons to resolve to attend the All-Star So You Think You Can Act on February 17th:

1. Last time Al Simmons did the event he invented the table lunge, nearly knocking water glasses and judges to the floor. Who knows what he will do this year?

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2. Big Daddy Tazz and Troy Westwood tied when they competed two years ago. They are in it to prove once and for all who deserves the trophy.

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3. Self-help gurus, divas and has-beens, a messiah-figure, a dog show and a super star trying to iron a shirt for the first time in her life…we have an amazing selection of scenes from Canada’s top playwrights!

4. You could win two prime subscriptions to Rainbow Stage’s 2016 season! We have a stellar array of prizes streaming in to go with our all-star theme – jewelry, tickets, acting classes…

SYTYCA16 raffe

5. Don’t you want to laugh until your stomach hurts? With emcee Lara Rae; comedic scenes; judges Andrea del Campo, Pablo Felices-Luna and Ari Weinberg – we promise hilarity!

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If that doesn’t convince you then check out the promo video and stay tuned as we feature video challenges from our stars starting next week! Expect trash talk, training secrets and the announcement of the scenes. Get tickets now so you don’t miss out!