All the World’s a Stage this International Women’s Week

Hot off the heels of an incredibly successful community tour, our performers are ready to showcase this year’s line up of monologues this Saturday at the International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues: Starting Over !  We are proud to provide a platform for women’s stories, to promote equity on Canadian stages and to provide access to the arts.

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We started off by taking the pieces that were created through community group story-sharing back to the groups of women who had helped us to create them. After well-received performances at Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba and Welcome Place, we set off to tour the wider community! Here are the great host groups, all amazing organizations worth checking out:

March 2 – Genesis House – Manitou, Manitoba
Genesis House exists so that people of South Central Manitoba will be free from family and intimate partner abuse achieving results that justify the relative worth. They provide a confidential service, which includes a shelter for abused women and their children, residential and non-residential programs and prevention through public education.

March 6 – UWSA Women Trans-Spectrum Centre
The Women-Trans Spectrum Centre is an accessible and inclusive resource centre for women and trans students on the University of Winnipeg campus. The centre is a great space to hang out, study, and build community.

March 7 – North End Women’s CentreNEWC IWW17 (2)
The North End Women’s Centre is a community based organization that provides women with support, knowledge, and opportunity as they move forward on their journey towards independence and healthier lifestyle.

 

March 7 – Nova House – Selkirk, Manitoba
Nova House is a shelter for abused women and children in the Interlake Region of Manitoba. They provide temporary shelter, counseling, support groups, and referral to community resources for women and their children.

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March 8 – North End Family Centre

The North End Family Centre is a community gathering place that provides a comfortable and safe environment for community members to connect and belong.

March 8 – U of M Womyn’s Centre
RRC IWW17 (1)The Womyn’s Centre provides a feminist voice and safe space for womyn on campus. The members strive to create a place where women are listened to and recognized, and facilitate women as they gather the information they need to make informed decisions in their lives.

March 8 – Rainbow Resource Centre
Rainbow Resource Centre provides support, education, and resources to foster a proud, resilient, and diverse LGBT2SQ+ community.

March 9 – Agape House – Steinbach, Manitoba
The mission of Agape House-Eastman Crisis Centre, Inc. is to empower women and children experiencing family violence by providing safe shelter, information, counseling, and ongoing support.

March 9 – Mount Carmel Clinic
Founded on the belief that everyone has the right to accessible health care, Mount Carmel Clinic goes the extra mile to help clients connect with the services they need—in their homes, workplaces and neighbourhood.

March 9 – St. John’s Library
In addition to offering the services of a public library, St. John’s Library offers an array of free programs and workshops for all ages.

March 10 – St. Aidan’s School, Aberdeen Campus
St. Aidan’s School Aberdeen Campus is a Grade 6-10 school, primarily focused on at-risk kids, and presently serving kids from about ten nations – Cree, Tanzania, Metis, Kaska, Canada, Eritrea, Congo, Ojibway, Ethiopia, Burundi.

March 10 – IIWR-MB
IIWR-MB is an organization open to all individuals, as well as organizations that have an interest in promoting women’s human rights.

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March 12 –The Association of United Ukrainian Canadians
The Association of United Ukrainian Canadians is a progressive Organization with strong and durable roots in the people and history of Canada.

March 19- Manitoba Storytelling Guild
The Manitoba Storytelling Guild supports and promotes the art of oral storytelling throughout Manitoba.

A great big thank you goes out to Manitoba Status of Women and the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg. Without them, this Cabaret would not be possible. Special thanks to Neighborhoods Alive! and NERI for supporting our North End performances.

Join us for a performance of the full line-up, and a lobby full of visual art on the theme of ‘Starting Over’ at the International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues, March 11, 2017.

 

 

Starting from Scratch with a cast of expert story-tellers

This 2017 International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues is over-flowing with talent! Check out part two of our feature on the stellar cast.

Just off the Manitoba school tour of Sarasvàti’s Shattered, Reena Jolly has delved right back into work with us for the Cabaret. She will be performing “You Say Tomato, I say Goodbye”, a piece she resonates personally with about a difficult conversation with first-generation newcomer parents. Reena has been working hard on mastering an accent for this piece and we can’t wait to see it come to life!

Kim Kakegamic made an impact in last year’s Cabaret as an outrageous game show host. In fact this will be her third year doing a monologue for this event! Here’s something that you probably didn’t know: Kim loves geocaching and feels the exact opposite about slow-walkers. This Cabaret, Kim performs a gut-wrenching comedic piece, “The Pit” by Alissa Watson.

Brand new to the Sarasvàti team is Anjali Sandhu. Anjali studied stand-up and improv with Second City Toronto. You can see her regularly around town performing improv and stand-up comedy. Anjali will be performing a provocative and poetic monologue by Fauzia Rafique in this year’s Cabaret, called “Places that have no names.”

Nalini Reddy is also new to Sarasvàti, but is no stranger to the stage. She studied theatre in the Black Hole at the U of MB, performed in several fundraising productions for the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre (the annual joint RMTC-MB Bar Association show), been a performing member of Manohar Performing Arts. She’s even had her own band! Nalini will be performing, “Disapora”, the story of a woman struggling to define home while splitting her life between Winnipeg and Delhi.

You’ll remember Sydney MacFarlene from last year’s Cabaret of monologues; she was the only one who did not speak throughout her entire piece! Sydney is a devoted dancer who’s always on the move. She has been developing choreography as part of an oral-telling of a Lost Girl from South Sudan for this year’s Cabaret. During the week you’ll find her studying Kinesiology and tap-dancing under her desk.

We caught up with these performers to ask them a few fun questions and  get to know them better as they begin buckling down to rehearse!

  • If you could have coffee with any person who has ever existed, who would it be?
    Nalini: Vandana Shiva
    Reena
    : God. I have a few questions I’d like to ask.
    Anjali: Vincent Van Gogh (This is a lie, my true answer is Taylor Swift)
  • Who is a local woman that inspires you?
    Anjali: Pam Oberman
    Kim: My co-worker Rosalyn Boucha (who is also an amazing artist) – she is smart, creative, and aspires to learn something new everyday.
    Sydney: There isn’t just one local woman who inspires me, I find inspiration in every woman I meet. They each have their own unique stories and advice that I definitely learn from.
    Nalini: Fiona Smith
    Reena: My mum hands down. She is incredibly smart and perceptive. She has a great sense of humor and makes me laugh all the time. She is extremely hard working and never gives up. My mum is a real life wonder woman.
  • If you could wake up tomorrow with any new skill, what would it be?
    Nalini: Super-memory
    Anjali: Mind control or singing.
    Kim: Drawing
    Sydney: I would want to be able to memorize information just by reading it, I always have to write things out and it can be quite time-consuming.
  • If you had to start over again in a new place, where would you want to go?
    Sydney: If I had to start over again, I would be in the Caribbean or somewhere in South America.
    Kim: If I could speak Swedish I’d pick Sweden. It’s where my mom’s family is from and those Nordic countries seem like pretty fabulous places to live. On this side of the ocean? Honestly, probably Regina. Haha! I’ve started over twice there before and maybe third time’s the charm!
    Reena: New Orleans. The music and art are so vibrant! Plus, they have rich history and the food would be amazing. I’ve never been there… but, I saw The Princess and the Frog one time and wanted to move there instantly.

We are enjoying getting into the rehearsal process with this amazing cast. We look forward to sharing women’s stories on a theme we can all relate to: Starting Over.  For more info on the pieces, or to get tickets visit our website!

 

Hands Up for the Cast & Crew of Shattered!

6,161 is the number of people who saw Shattered this tour. Incredible!

After performing the show a total of 60 times 47 different locations, including 39 high schools in Winnipeg and surrounding areas, what are the moments that stood out to this formidable cast and crew the most?

“My biggest highlight is watching the students who are brave enough to come up and share their own personal stories”, said Erin Cunningham, who was at every performance as Stage Manager. “It’s nice to see not only them feeling brave enough to share their stories, but that the students in the audience are understanding enough to listen and they don’t get judgemental about it.” Erin also put an incredible amount of work into coordinating this year’s tour– a gargantuan task that calls for a standing ovation in itself.

“There have been a few girls that have come up to me after and talked to me about how they have already been to a treatment centre just like I had gone to for my eating disorder” said Kelsey Funk, who has shared her lived experience with the project. Kelsey plays Amanda, a high school student who struggles with an eating disorder unbeknownst to her family and friends. “They tell me that it has been a powerful experience to watch the show and you can kind of see hope in their eyes, so that’s been really great for me.”

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Performance at Children of the Earth High School

The cast and crew of Shattered set out to make an impact on schools; to engage students in open discussion of mental health, to reach out to those who have experience with mental health issues, and to encourage human understanding among those who have not. The whole team is extremely proud to have made a positive impact on so many young people.

“I enjoyed it because it felt real and it hits you hard”, said a student at Garden City Collegiate.
“I realised that a lot more people in our school had experience with mental illness than I thought”, said a student at Fort Richmond Collegiate.
“I just wanted to say thank you all so much for coming to my school…the message was so powerful and I relate so much to these stories” said a student at John Taylor Collegiate.

Although our cast and crew deserve a much needed break, it’s clear that they will miss spending so much time with each other. “One of my favourite times is when we’re in the passenger van driving to our different locations”, said Reena Jolly who plays Stacy. “You get to bond and just talk to each other on the drive to wherever we’re going. I love that part.”

20161129_093559Touring a performance like this has a profound impact on the performers too. “After the show at Churchill high a student came up to me and she was very, very emotional”, said Erica Wilson, who plays KoKo, a young, two-spirited character in Shattered.  “Her friend is going through a transition where she’s not comfortable with her gender. I was able to explain to her that a lot of girls and a lot of boys feel that way…so it’s a very emotional tour.”

 

We have felt honoured to share these stories with the next generation of Manitobans. We hope that the empathy and understanding they are full of today stays with them as they become adults. Their bravery and acceptance of mental health gives us much hope for the future.

Starting From Scratch – Stories of Starting Over

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“I don’t deserve this,” she thought as she arrived at the Winnipeg airport to a crowd of greeters with coats, mitts and open arms. The memory brings tears to her eyes. She felt so much love. She did not choose to come to Winnipeg, she fled persecution. Now it is her home.

Home is defined by so much more than a fixed address. As record numbers of people settle in Winnipeg they bring with them an incredible array of stories. Each story is unique; including the reasons for coming to Winnipeg and the obstacles met upon arrival. Starting Over, the theme of this year’s International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues poses many questions about new beginnings, among these questions is, “when does Winnipeg become home?”

Sarasvàti artists have been working with newcomer women through interviews and workshops in order to get to the heart of what it means to start over.  We’ve spoken to women individually, many of whom were put in touch with us through the Institute for International Women’s Rights – Manitoba. We feel privileged to hear these stories and to work with real women to share their experiences on stage.

“Although starting over can happen in many ways, transitioning to a new country is huge. These women are incredibly strong,” Artistic Director Hope McIntyre shares after conducting interviews. “The theme this year has allowed us to showcase incredible true stories, as well as written pieces by established playwrights tackling life-changing events.”

Photos from the International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues 2016: Stolen Sisters

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As with every year, we plan to tour selections throughout community venues across the city. We are looking forward to providing a platform for the stories of newcomer women and sharing them with both their community and the larger Manitoba community.

Whether starting over in a new country, a new relationship, or a new chapter of your life, this year’s Cabaret includes an incredibly diverse collection of life-changing moments as experienced by women.

Stay tuned for more details on this year’s selections that we guarantee will move and delight you! Be sure to mark March 11th in your calendar so you don’t miss the full public performances at either 4pm or 8pm. Tickets available here.

Giving Voice and Changing Lives

There were tears, cheers of support, inspiring stories, insightful responses, group hugs, so many transformative moments, dancing and a lot of laughter (especially in the van during road trips)! This morning the Giving Voice team took their final bow at Gimli High School. They have performed this inspirational show written collaboratively by youth in and from care a total of 33 times to over 4,200 youth, teachers, CFS workers and members of the general public. They have traveled over 3,186 km to 16 different cities and towns around Manitoba. The responses to the show have been overwhelmingly positive. See below to read a select few for yourself:

“The performance was great. It was a real eye opener to our students to what some people’s life situations actually involve. Our students loved the opportunity to get up on stage in their attempts to make things better for the main characters, and the actors were amazing in welcoming our students to the stage. A great event for any school, as we all have students in care, and we all need to show a caring side to any new students in our buildings.” – Principal in Prairie Rose School Division

“The theme of the play was fantastic. I didn’t expect that they would use social media to tell a story about teens in foster care. It was wonderful how they told a heavy topic in a manner that captured all of our attention. I was truly touched by the play.” – Student in Pembina Trails School Division

“Giving Voice was one of the most powerful high school matinees I have ever attended. To capture the attention of 120+ students is not an easy task but to also inspire them and then encourage them to participate in a meaningful way was amazing to view. The content was thoughtfully chosen, to illustrate the lives of those in care….All too often students feel/think that material provided to them (such as live theatre, videos, texts) is not relevant or applicable to their lives. Giving Voice illuminated aspects of the Child Foster System for all to understand but in a way that truly gave voice to those so often under-represented. Bravo to Sarasvàti for once again providing a thought provoking, engaging theatre experience.” – Teacher in Seven Oaks School Division

“The forum style of presentation gave students an opportunity to really get involved in the issue of kids in care. The way in which students and their ideas were welcomed by the cast encouraged many of our students to go onstage and become part of the scenes, and play a role in making a difference. Sarasvati Productions always leave a lasting impression!” – Teacher in River East Transcona School Division

 

 

“What impressed me the most was how realistic the play was written.” – Student in River East Transcona School Division

“Theatre in general and Forum Theatre in particular has the power to get people talking about issues that all too often remain untouched. Watching my grade 9-12 students get up and engage in multiple interventions, digging and exploring the topic of foster care from a number of perspectives, reminded me why it is SO vital that the Arts/Dramatic Arts are a part of the learning that each and every student takes on in schools daily.” – Teacher in Hanover School Division

“Absolutely brilliant. It was so moving and insightful. My students enjoyed it THOROUGHLY.” – Teacher in Pembina Trails School Division

 

Thank you so much for 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 VOICES: Manitoba’s Youth in Care Network, Manitoba Community Services Council Inc, The Winnipeg Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, Winnipeg Arts Council, The General Child and Family Services Authority, Manitoba Teachers’ Society, and Children and Youth Opportunities.

 

Ten Shows and Counting!

The Giving Voice team has been on the road for just over two weeks now, they have ten shows under their belt, but they are nowhere near done yet! In fact, they are only a third of the way through, there are still many more schools and youth to empower and inspire all around Manitoba. The team’s been rocking their shows and the reception has been amazing!

Warming Up at St.Aidan's!

Warming Up at St.Aidan’s!

The first stop on the Giving Voice tour was at Miles Mac here in Winnipeg. The occasion was all the more special since this school was the alma mater of stage manager Sydney Hayduk. The students loved it, particularly some self-identified youth in care who found it a huge relief to have their friends hear about what life can be like in the system. Next, the team had to wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed for a 6:30am departure time to make it to Brandon’s Vincent Massey High School for an 11am show. Well, at least the gals were awake, the boys slept through the whole drive! In the end it was worth the early morning for the extremely energetic reception the team received. So far VMHS holds the record for quickest student interventions, they were keen to stop the action and solve the problems!

After a restful weekend the team hit the road again to go to Lac du Bonnet, which had over 200 students packed into their gym to see the show! “Excellent, excellent show! Student and staff response has been amazing.” was the note we received from teacher Penny Osis. Afterwards the cast posed for pictures and were interviewed by the Lac du Bonnet Clipper!

St. Aidan’s Christian School was a smaller venue but the first one where the teachers also jumped in to take part. Murdoch MacKay’s students had a lively discussion about what happens when the bully becomes the victim. October 24th was a special performance as the team performed at Drama SAGE day to an audience full of teachers. The teachers loved it although they weren’t as quick to jump in as their students have been! Several argued that the play isn’t just for high schoolers, but important to educate adults and to encourage more foster parenting. Thankfully we have an opportunity for people of all ages to catch the show for free in the Carol Shields Auditorium at the Millennium Library on Sunday November 2nd at 2:30pm. Psst, reservations are almost full, phone or email us while you still can to reserve! Click here for info.

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The team on the road!

This week the team have been business bees driving out to perform two shows at Teulon Collegiate and then St. Laurent School the next day. Here’s an amazing response to the St. Laurent show from cast member Emily Barker who plays Sally: “Today post show I had three girls come up to me (ages 12 & 13) and share their experiences. They were each in foster care and they had been bullied. One as recently as being physically bullied the day before the show. They were courageous and kind, and seemed eager to share their stories with me. Standing in front of me was basically three “Sally’s”, and this was just one show in our tour. How many more kids are out there having this experience?!”

Wednesday they got to stay home in Winnipeg while they put on the show for over 350 students in Tech Voc’s huge theatre! Today, they are heading out to Steinbach Regional Secondary before getting Halloween off to rest…or go trick or treating, or dancing, or whatever they would like to do with their well-deserved break!

Hopefully they don’t get too comfy though, next week they have to be in tip top shape for seven shows in a row Sunday through Friday! Keep breaking legs Giving Voice team!