Why We Do What We Do

A Pitch From Our Artistic Director, Hope McIntyre

It is time to brag, boast, crow and show some swagger! I’ll admit it, I don’t always do the best job of tooting the company’s horn. When I was a kid it was a bad thing to be a show off. So, I keep my head down and do the work. The work gets done but not everyone knows about it and not everyone knows how amazing what we do is.

GeNie and kids

Why is Sarasvàti Productions unique? This year alone we opened the eyes to almost 4,500 youth and teachers to the reality of what youth in care experience. To have a young person stand up and say “thank you for helping my peers understand what I have been through” means the world to us. We have had dozens of emerging artists attend our workshop series and access important information to launch their careers as artists. I’ve gotten to see a child who was too shy to say his name become a potato on stage. I’ve sat in a room with 15 women, all but one was sexually abused as a child, and listened to them share their stories. Then being able to laugh with them as we play theatre games. We’ve brought to the stage dozens of stories that would not otherwise be told. What makes us unique is that we are using the arts in a very important, powerful and special way. We believe that the arts have the ability to empower, to teach, to inspire and to allow everyone to have a voice.

SNA BB session 8 (3)Over the last 17 years there have been lots of sacrifices because of the belief that the work we are doing is important. This has been proven to me time and time again when I see the direct impact. However, the reality is that for 17 years we’ve struggled for funding. Our unique position as a theatre company working in the community and dedicated to social change sometimes puts us at a disadvantage when competing for funding that is awarded based on artistic excellence. We combine professional artists with emerging artists and even with community members. On average only about 30% of our revenue comes from public sources and only 5% is for operating costs with multi-year stability. This reality is not the norm for a theatre company operating a full season and having done so for so many years. It may not be sustainable forever, but we have never posted a debt, we stretch every dollar and we now have an endowment fund to work towards long-term stability.

MNM buttonOkay, enough of the reality check – back to bragging! Miss N Me is our next production and it is a crazy, wonderful and empowering journey. The playwright is one of a few two-time Governor General Award winners. We have a fabulous team of local artists including our amazing cast of Colin Connor, Kevin P. Gabel, Alissa Watson and Melanie Whyte. Our design team of Brenda McLean, James Jansen and Dean Cowieson have an awesome challenge with a complex show and a tight budget. They are all miracle workers. Our Assistant Director Angie St. Mars is a powerhouse and Missy Elliott’s biggest fan! The show is worth seeing and it is worth supporting. We’ve just launched our donation campaign for this world premiere and it is a chance for the community to show that they do want this type of wonderful theatre to exist in Winnipeg!

Click here to give and get great donor benefits! We know not everyone can support us in this way so show your support by purchasing tickets here. If money is not an option then contact us to volunteer. If we’ve really won you over we are also recruiting for our Board of Directors and committees.

The Missy Elliott Factor

Some of you may be wondering, why Missy Elliott? Why would two-time Governor General Award winning playwright Catherine Banks write a play so heavily influenced by Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott? Well, there’s no need for us to answer for her! Below is a letter that Catherine sent to Missy Elliott to express her gratitude and how the play Miss N Me came about:

There is a poem I love by Yosano Akiko that begins “The day the mountains move has come” and ends “All the sleeping women are now awake and moving.” The first time I heard your lyrics you lit a fire that ignited my frozen core. Instant lava spilled out of me;—-awe, joy, surprise—I was so amazed that you were straight-up saying these wildly wonderful things.

“Real big butts make ya man wanna look (OH!)

Back it up, flip it up, skinny girls – eugh!” gave me my first real belly laugh in too many years. Honest to God, ridiculous, BUT TRUE!—–Oh, those words hit me in the sternum—– that a man would want to look at me if I had a great big butt—cause everyone all 48 years before had told me to keep my butt shrink-wrapped.

Missy-Elliott-This-Is-Not-a-TestI bought all of your cds but This is Not A Test was the one I played over and over. I have bought at least 10 copies since 2005—-I wear them all out.

Your lyrics lit up a path in NEON that I didn’t know I would be walking less than six month after I heard your music for the first time.

One day my life fell apart in one uttered sentence. I honestly don’t know if I could have made the journey from hearing that sentence to saying “No!” had I not been listening to your wisdom in the months before he said what he said.

My play is the seconds, hours, days, perhaps years that it takes a woman to go from the ending sentence she hears to learning she must save her own life.

The first time I read a scene from Miss N Me a theatre colleague said “What is it about 50 year old women and Missy Elliott.” I thought, “You mean it isn’t just me?” At that moment I realized that for all those months it had felt like you were talking just to me.

Catherine Banks

Catherine Banks

Your attitude so playful, honest, fearless and joyful—your lyrics about butts, relationships, knowing your worth and sex toys—-How all that made me feel is what I am trying to do with Miss N Me.

Because Dawna, the heroine, drives to NYC to ambush Missy I also drove to NYC. I listened to all your cds all the way—and it was fucking amazing! When I got to downtown Manhattan I felt like the king of the world—You are beyond amazing. Of course I didn’t get to meet you but what a gift to know you through your words. You are a true inspiration to me in every way. Thank you thank you thank you.

Now that you know all about how Miss N Me came to Catherine, check out the links below to learn about her writing process and how Miss N Me developed.

The first is a fun interview she gave way back in 2009, when she had just finished completing a draft of Miss N Me (called Missy and Me back then!): Umbrella Talk with playwright Catherine Banks

The second is a blog about a road trip she took to New York to help her add more realism to the play: Six Minutes Driving in Downtown Manhattan

The third article is an interview she gave after winning her second General Governor Award about her writing process: Catherine Banks – Governor General’s Literary Awards interview series

Tickets for the world premiere of Miss N Me are on sale now! You can either by tickets on line by clicking here or by phoning 204-586-2236.

Looking Forward to a Transformative Year

Happy New Year everyone! What are your resolutions? Here are our top 5 resolutions for 2015!

1. NURTURE EMERGING ARTISTS!

Work It Night!

Work It Night!

The first item for our 2015 calendar is our third Work It Night event that we created in partnership with ACI Manitoba on January 19th. Artists from all disciplines, emerging and established, have brought their works in progress to present for audience reactions or feedback. It’s been amazing to see the work of so many diverse artists including animators, videographers, and poets! Join us and come out to share your work or support the presenting artists with your insights. It is a fun, relaxed and supportive environment to connect with other artists. Work It Night is the third Monday of every month at 7pm!

2. LAUNCH NEW ARTISTIC CAREERS!

Sharon Bajer

Sharon Bajer

We are excited to have the multitalented Sharon Bajer facilitate How to Get Your Foot in the Door, a submissions workshop for emerging artists to learn how to format cover letters, resumes, scripts and headshots to industry standards while still standing out. Deadline to register and pay for this workshop is January 13th, so don’t delay! For more information and to read about the other fantastic workshops we have planned click here!

3. RAISE A GLASS AND RAISE SOME FUNDS!

Our fourth annual So You Think You Can Act Fundraiser on February 18th will be a chance to have a great time while helping us do amazing work. See celebrities face off in scenes about power play and at the end – you get to choose who goes home with the trophy. There are also going to be amazing raffle prizes and a wine reception! Click here for information on how to get tickets.

Banner SYTYCA 2015

4. EMPOWER SUPER WOMEN!

sarasvati (3)In March nine dynamic women will take the stage to bring the stories of nine amazing women to life in celebration of International Women’s Week. Come hear the empowering stories of Zelda Fitzgerald, Isobel Gunn, a young Mennonite woman, and even a superhero! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ve got two chances to see it on March 7th, the Cabaret has a history of selling out, so click here to purchase tickets now.

5. BUST BARRIERS!

Catherine Banks

Catherine Banks

Who says a 50 year old can’t bust a rhyme inspired by Missy Elliott? We will challenge the status quo with the world premiere of Miss’N Me May 21 to 31! Miss’N Me is a brilliant and unique new play from two time Governor General Award winning playwright Catherine Banks. The play follows Dawna, a hairdresser, who steals her husband’s plumbing van and heads for New York City to meet Missy Elliott. On the way there she crosses paths with a host of wacky hitch-hikers. You don’t want to miss this one, so mark your calendars!

This will keep us busy for the first part of the year but we won’t stop there. FemFest 2015: Hear Her Roar! is already in the works and the line-up will be announced in May. The festival will run September 12 to 19 and will feature life-changing plays by women for everyone. We are also embarking on a new community collaboration exploring mental health with Artists in Health Care, Red Threads Playback Theatre and the Selkirk Mental Health Centre.

Join us in making 2015 an inspiring, transformative and life-changing year!

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