Making Space for Women’s Experience of Homelessness

Homelessness means… “I am not worthy or worth enough to be or feel safe. I don’t deserve anything. I must have done something wrong.”

Too often defining homelessness is done by those without lived experience. This response from a participant who has spent years on the streets is an important part of a unique collaboration. Sarasvàti Productions’ artists have been working with women at West Central Women’s Resource Centre (WCWRC) on a new story-sharing project, the focus is women’s experiences with homelessness.

Women come to WCWRC for a variety of services – for support groups, job training, recreation or for a shower and a meal. The West End-based non-profit has a mandate to “empower women to help themselves, their families and their community to safer, healthier lifestyles”, so it’s no surprise that they are perfect pair with Sarasvàti Productions. Far from the first time these two organizations have worked together, WCWRC and Sarasvàti collaborated on an inter-generational project two years ago, artists have led workshops as part of programming and the International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues have been performed at the Centre on several occasions. This time, a core group of women at WCWRC will be working with our facilitators so that their stories can be told on stage at the National Conference on Ending Homelessness.

“These women are the epitome of strength, courage, and resilience”, says Nan Fewchuk, one of  Sarasvàti Productions’ facilitators. “They share their harrowing stories with complete honesty, and are somehow able to still laugh at themselves, and at the absurdity of the situations in their lives. Pliny the Elder once said, ‘Home is where the heart is’. I am so grateful to each of these ladies for inviting me into their beautiful ‘homes’.”

Nan at WCWRC

Facilitator Nan Fewchuk at WCWRC

Working with the women at WCWRC is an important part of meeting our goals as a company. If we want to promote social change and human understanding we need to start by listening to folks who are often neglected in our community.  We are driven to create platforms for voices rarely heard on Canadian stages.

WCWRC is an amazing organization. They are packed to the rafters and busier than ever with newly increased hours and programming.  It’s a sign that the services they provide are in high-demand and that they are really working to serve the needs of the community. Sarasvàti is proud to be working with WCWRC and honoured to have the opportunity to share the stories of the women involved.  The public is invited to “Can You See Me Now”, a presentation of readings at 7:30pm on October 24th at the University of Winnipeg Asper Centre for Theatre and Film – admission by donation. The presentation will also be part of the National Conference on Ending Homelessness and open to conference attendees on October 25th. CAEH17_logo_L-900x614

 

 

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A Week of Powerful Monologues

Bored of a traditional theatre setting, or can’t make it to our full line up of our International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues on March 12? No worries, we’ve got you covered! We’ve already had an early start to our community performances of our Cabaret of Monologues, but we’re just warming up. Starting March 6 we are doing eight community performances in Winnipeg, Steinbach, and Selkirk, keep reading to find out more!

 

March 6 at 2pm in the Ukrainian Labour Temple: As a part of the Temple’s Speaker Series we will be performing Finding Freedom by Shamin Brown, Warrior by Helena Kelly, and Stolen Girls by Hope McIntyre. And you get to hear speakers Leah Gazan and Lubna Hussain discuss gender-based violence too. Admission is by donation (suggested $15). Find out more here!

 

March 7 at 12:30pm in the West Central Women’s Resource Centre: For this performance exclusively for women in the West Central community we’ll be presenting four monologues: Warrior by Helena Kelly, Lingua Franca by Frances Koncan, Chance by Melaina Sheldon, The Visitor by Alison McEvoy Murray. We’re thrilled to be presenting at this great organization, learn more about the work they do here!

 

Sam, Lorraine, Mallory and Kim at Nova House

Backstage with some of the IWW15 Cast!

March 8 at 7pm in Circle of Life Thunderbird House: In partnership with Manitoba Moon Voices Inc, Southern Chiefs Organization, and Thunderbird House we’ll be presenting Quiet by Mary Black, Finding Freedom by Shamin Brown, Good Enough by Lynne C. Martin, and Chance by Melaina Sheldon. Suggested donation is $10. Thunderbird House is a great resource and provider of insights into the culture and heritage of Winnipeg’s Aboriginal people, learn more about them here.

 

March 9 at 12:45pm in the UW Hive (north-east corner of Lockhart Hall): In partnership with the U of W Women-Trans Spectrum Centre we’ll be presenting Doing it for the Fame by Makrenna Sterdan and Quiet by Mary Black, and admission is free! Find more info here.

 

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Kelsey Wavey rehearsing Chance

March 9 at 7:30pm in the Rainbow Resource Centre: We’re looking forward to having Mary Black perform her monologue Quiet for the peer support group at Rainbow Resource Centre. Haven’t heard of the Rainbow Resource Centre? Learn about their work here.

 

March 10 at 12pm in Agape House: We’re going to Steinbach with Chance by Melaina Sheldon, The Visitor by Alison McEvoy Murray, and Warrior by Helena Kelly. Admission is by donation, and attendees are encouraged to bring one or two non-perishable food items for Agape House. Find out more here.

 

IWW Selkirk

Nova House with some of the IWW14 cast (with tasty treats!)

March 10 at 7:30pm in Selkirk United Church: In partnership with Nova House join us for an evening of monologues and dessert! This year we’ll be presenting Chance by Melaina Sheldon, Warrior by Helena Kelly, Quiet by Mary Black, and She Said by Robyn Pooley. Admission is $15, and from past experience we can vouch for the tastiness of the dessert, so you won’t want to miss it! Find more information here.

 

March 11 at 9:40am in Miles Macdonell Collegiate: We love doing presentations at schools, so we’re happy to be bringing Warrior by Helena Kelly, Lingua Franca by Frances Koncan, Doing it for the Fame by Makrenna Sterdan and She Said by Robyn Pooley to the high school students of Miles Mac!

 

And then finally, your only opportunity to see all ten pieces are our two public performances of the full line up on March 12 at 4pm and 8pm. You can get your tickets online here, or by phoning us at 204-586-2236. Hope to see you there!

Many, Many Thanks!

HappyHolidaysBanner1Happy Holidays!! It’s amazing what we have been able to accomplish together in 2015. Over the last year, we have found immense joy in working to fulfill our mandate by supporting emerging artists, engaging with the community to address important issues and promoting a greater human understanding – and we’re so thankful for your help. We worked with amazing youth at Spence Neighbourhood Association in a series of theatre workshops. The women of West Central Women’s Resource Centre inspired us as we worked together on the storytelling project. Super heroines and day to day heroes were featured at our 2015 International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues. We brought in artists from around the world and provided a platform for development of our home-grown talent at FemFest 2015. We worked closely with amazing individuals and organizations to challenge mental health stigma and lay the ground work for a new play script in the Mental Health Project. We are definitely ready for a rest so our offices will be closed until January 4th when we look forward to launching in to another great year of art!

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Stay tuned for this year’s International Women’s Week Cabaret and a public showcase of the Mental Health Project script in progress.

So You Think You Can Act 2016 will be our first event of 2016 and it is our opportunity to thrill and delight our supporters with outrageous entertainment, spontaneous humour, great prizes and wine! To celebrate 5 years, we are featuring past champs and crowd-favorites in an all-star edition that you won’t want to miss.  We promise a fun-filled evening! Buy tickets now and check out our VIP 5-Pack for the diva treatment.

And if that weren’t enough, we also have our workshop series for emerging artists!

Thanks for all of your support.

Happy Holidays from the Sarasvàti Productions family to you and your family!

IWW Thank You!

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Packed audiences, 10 young actors, 10 writers and plenty of community hospitality – including cheesecake! Last week, Sarasvàti Productions helped celebrate International Women’s Week once again with our 10th Cabaret of Monologues event! With two sold out public performances and several community presentations throughout Winnipeg and the surrounding area, this year was certainly one of our best yet. The response from audience members has been very inspiring and we would like to thank all of you who joined us to hear the voices of these young women, to explore the challenges they face in today’s society, and be inspired by the ways they Rise Up.

Shanley Spence, Ashley Kowalchuk, Hailley Rhoda and Ali Tataryn getting ready to perform at the U of W's IWGS event!We were invited to help celebrate Int’l Women’s Week on campus with The University of Manitoba’s Womyn’s Centre and The University of Winnipeg’s Institute for Women’s and Gender Studies. Both groups consisted of engaged audience members, many of whom were young up-and-coming female leaders themselves with a desire to create change in their communities.

We also had the opportunity to travel out to Selkirk and help the many supporters of Nova House celebrate the week. Nova House is a shelter for abused women and children in the Interlake Region of Manitoba. They provide temporary shelter, counselling, support groups, and referral to community resources. It was such a pleasure to perform at this fundraiser for an organization that is doing so much to help women in their community. We were also set to venture out to Gimli to help the Interlake Women’s Resource Centre celebrate. Unfortunately, due to the snow storm and unsafe highway conditions, the event was canceled. We do hope to be able to reschedule the event in the future.IWW Selkirk

The West Central Women’s Resource Centre in Winnipeg also brought us out for an afternoon performance! The WCRC exists to empower women to help themselves, their families and their community to safer, healthier lifestyles. This performance was met by avid audience members who might not have otherwise had the opportunity to attend a professional theatre production.

We would also like to extend our appreciation to those involved in “The Girls Project” at Kanikanichihk in Winnipeg. “The Girls Project” is a program that aims at building leadership in young Aboriginal women in the community between the ages of 15—21. Many of the girls involved in the project attended the event while others chose to volunteer as box office attendants and ushers.

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The official theme for this year’s IWD was “Inspiring Change”. We hope these stories inspired you to make change in some way, shape or form! Thank you once again to everyone who helped make this event a huge success. We couldn’t have done it without you. Stay tuned for our final production of the 2013/2014 season. The much anticipated Fefu and Her Friends by Maria Irene Fornes will run from May 22nd – June 1st and will feature and entire cast of 8 incredible local female theatre artists! Mark your calendars, save the date or book now! With only 60 seats per performance, this one-of-a-kind production it is bound to sell out fast.