Powerful Performances Provoke Dialogue

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Record-breaking attendance, 10 stories, 11 community performances and over 800 people affected. This year, we set out to do something different with our Cabaret of Monologues. We had chosen a challenging theme, Stolen Sisters, with the goal of inspiring change by creating a platform for women to share perspectives on gender-based violence. In order to include more perspectives we worked with many women who do not traditionally tell their stories in a theatre setting. We welcomed these women’s stories to the Cabaret in diverse forms; dance, spoken word, slam poetry, oral storytelling, and visual art. The result of these collaborative efforts was an incredibly powerful production.

“What a beautiful show. I don’t know how you do it again and again…was so moved by all of the pieces” said Cairn Moore, who was in the audience for Saturday’s matinee. Cairn is a playwright and director who’s play Shiksa is currently premiering at Winnipeg Jewish Theatre.

“The relevance of the topics, the passion of the performers and the emotional impact on the audience are transformational”, said  Ms. Terry Price, Department Head of Professional and French Language Services with the Manitoba Teachers’ Society. Ms. Price hosted performances of three pieces at the Canadian Teacher’s Federation Women’s Symposium.

Sharing the stage with non-traditional theatre performers was an exciting experience! So was performing the pieces throughout the community in non-theatre settings. Intimate, informal, and often ad hoc DIY performance spaces can pose challenges, but our performers rose to these challenges with exuberance! This gave us the chance to make this art accessible and to connect with so many non-theatre goers in our community.

“It was such an honour performing as part of the Sarasvati Transformative ‪Stolen Sisters‬ Cabaret of Monologues this evening at the Thunderbird House on ‪International Women’s Day‬”, said Shaneen Robinson, reporter at Aboriginal Peoples Television Network and performer in Stolen Sisters. “Thanks to all who came to show support in our fight to raise awareness and put a stop to ‪‎MMIW‬ in our country.”

We are especially thankful to have had the chance to perform this productions for staff and clientele of crisis and resource centres in and around Winnipeg.

“As a Manitoba women’s shelter director, I know that our staff hear many stories from women escaping abuse and violence – our work is very challenging. Today’s monologues were outstanding and I found the theme very relevant to the clients we support” said Pam Hadder, Executive Director at Agape House-Eastman Crisis Centre in Steinbach, Manitoba.

“The performers and the content of this year’s monologues were incredible! Each performer did an outstanding job of entertaining us and informing us of current social issues. Very dramatic, very thought provoking, and very important! Thank you so much for giving us this opportunity to build awareness in our community”, said Anna Pazdzierski, the Executive Director of Nova House Inc.

Thank you to all of our supporters, volunteers, audience, community hosts, performers, writers, Board of Directors and funders for helping to make our International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues – Stolen Sisters a huge success. It was a pleasure to work with so many amazing women.

Meet Our Wonderful IWW Actors!

Ready to see ten amazing women perform in our annual International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues? So are we! We caught up with them this week to ask them some questions about being a part of the Cabaret, being a female artist, and where they’d like to see Canada in a year. Keep reading to see some of their answers!

 

By next International Women’s Week what would you most like to see changed in Canada?

Montana Lehmann: More women in direction/artistic direction in Winnipeg. There are so many amazingly creative women in our city.

Shamin Brown: I would like to see gender equality become the cornerstone of Canadian society as it is in Sweden. Canada must adopt Swedish gender equality beliefs, principles, & practices…and it needs to do so in a societally pervasive manner rather than as a Band-Aid applied to individual issues (because that Band-Aid almost always gets ripped off in the end). 

Sydney Macfarlane: I would like to see more attention be kept on people who have disappeared. They still are missing and they’re still people with families who deserve closure by finding their loved ones.

Teri-Lynn Friesen: I think I would like to see more women’s voices represented and heard whether it is in government, in businesses, on boards, etc.  I was really excited to see that Prime Minister Trudeau appointed a gender balanced cabinet and it gives me hope that our voice will be represented and that other cultures (corporate, non profit, society in general) will follow suit and seek out additional perspectives in their decision making.

What is the most exciting or challenging part of participating in this year’s Cabaret of Monologues?  Why?

Erica Wilson: The most challenging part of the cabaret is probably the monologue I am doing called Lingua Franca. It has so many layers that’s so hard for any actor to accomplish and I’m over whelmed that I was chosen to perform this piece, it reminds me of theatre of the disturbed meets butoh dance with a touch of Ventriloquism. Being able to translate this piece for an audience and it working will be a great accomplishment of mine.

Kelsey Wavey: This year’s theme of stolen sisters is one that is really important to me, so that’s really exciting for me. On the other side of this, the issues that are very present in this theme, and definitely in my monologue, which is called Chance by Melaina Sheldon, are very difficult to comprehend and be able to portray to an audience emotionally and physically. Negative stereotypes, systemic racism, sexism, and domestic abuse to name a few. 

Kim Kakegamic: The most exciting part is getting to be involved in such an important event, with such incredible performers. The most challenging part for me is that my monologue requires intense, high energy from start to finish. I play a gameshow host and she has to be “on” the entire time – engaging, exciting and involving the audience. Whenever I finish I feel like I just did a workout!

Mary Black: The most exciting thing about being a part of this Cabaret of Monologues is being a part of a dynamic, women-run performance and hearing other women’s stories and voices. It is a beautiful time to be alive as our Nation is experiencing a shift; a collective growth, and an end to the stigma and silence surrounding sexual violence and violence against women and girls is in sight.

Shamin: The most challenging part of participating in this year’s event has been remaining open on stage. I instinctively want to shelter myself as I connect with the material; learning to remain open and vulnerable has been a huge challenge.

Sydney: The most challenging thing was turning a very strong spoken word piece into a dance that reflected the intensity of the words.

Have you been to our Cabaret of Monologues before?  If so, what do you like about it?

Heather Bjorklund:  I have been and performed in the Cabaret of Monologues before. I love it. I love the fact that it gives women a chance to shine. 

Kim: My first time in IWW Cabaret was last year. I played Zelda Fitzgerald. The whole experience was amazing from start to finish. Working with Hope, getting to bring this character to life, the community performances and the FUN I had. Plus, meeting and watching the other “Superheroines” perform was so inspiring.

Montana: No, this is a first time for me, I’m very excited to see how all the other pieces come together and what everyone else has been working on.

Teri-Lynn: I actually went for the first time last year and the performances I saw were at Portage Place Mall.  I really appreciated that these fierce women were on stage, just bearing their souls (and the souls of the women who both penned the pieces, and were being portrayed) on stage, in the middle of a shopping mall.  It was just really cool.  I like the non-traditional, sharing element.

What is it like being a female artist (or female in your industry)?  What are the highlights and the challenges?

Erica: Being a female in the industry for me is uncomfortable, I see so many roles for acting that I would like to go out there and get but it’s only for the male gender to take. Which is unfortunate because I want to be those characters! I don’t want to be the princess or the wife, I want to be the killer or head honcho! 

Highlights? Every time I get to start a new process. Every single time I learn something new about myself, perspectives and techniques. 

Heather: I would have to say that it is rather challenging to be a female artist. I have directed and acted in many shows over the years. I have found it very challenging to direct shows if there is a male co-director for example. It doesn’t work well. The man is always the one deferred to. It seems that my power is always usurped if there is a male around. 

Kelsey: I think there are still a lot of people who underestimate me. Being a young, indigenous, female aspiring actor you definitely need to filter those people out and focus on those who believe in you and help your strength. Also, whenever I hear about a role with a 3 dimensional young woman, its always great news!

Mary: I experience many challenges being a woman in my industry; I am a vocal poet – a singer/songwriter. Specifically, my husband and I make hip hop music to speak to youth in a language they can understand – by sending positive messages in our music and vocalizing the struggles our isolated, Indigenous communities face. Women in hip hop and music in general have been hyper-sexualized, and the party scene involving drugs and alcohol has been glamorized. I actively combat these things in the music I make but, living as a Traditional, sober woman I face struggles everywhere in this industry. Still, I believe my voice and story is powerful enough to inspire others to speak about their lives and help me in the battle I am fighting by telling their own truth, facing their own demons and owning their stories.

 

Come see these amazing women performing powerful monologues at community performances throughout the week of March 6, or come see the full line up on Saturday March 12 at 4pm and 8pm. Tickets are only $10 and you can get them here or by phoning 204-586-2236.

 

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Care To Dance? With the Cast of The Dance-Off of Conscious Uncoupling!

With this much talent, you know this show will be great! Rehearsals have begun already for FemFest. We have met a few times this week with the fresh cast for Frances Koncan’s The Dance-Off of Conscious Uncoupling. One of the best parts of staging a play set at a High School Prom is that we get to work with some very talented young actors this year, as well as some old friends. This week, we want to introduce you to the Dance-Off cast members but sharing a couple of quirky questions and answers. And each of these actors are involved in the Fringe this week, so don’t miss your chance to see them in action! Continue reading