Meet the Cast of Breaking Through!

This ace team of actors who will be working on Breaking Through includes many familiar faces and some who are brand new to Sarasvàti. We can’t wait to dive into rehearsals with this incredible team of artists!

Elena Anciro

Elena AnciroElena Anciro is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg’s Department of Theatre & Film. She was recently seen on stage in Alice in Wonderland (Theatre NorthWest), JONNO (Echo Theatre), and Chimerica (RMTC/CanStage). Her favourite Sarasvàti credits include: Fefu & Her Friends, Flood Control, and Empty. Elena is a member of Red Threads of Peace, a playback theatre troupe that merges artistry, social justice, and community building through improvised storytelling. She is honoured to be part of the premiere of this poignant and relevant new work.

Dorothy Carroll

Dorothy is excited to embark on this incredibly important project with Sarasvàti. Dorathy CarrollPreviously she appeared in Kayak (2010). A graduate of the University of Winnipeg Honours Acting program, favorite past shows include: Alice Through the Looking Glass (RMTC), Stripped Down Midsummer Nights Dream (SIR), Dutchman (play on Theatre), Hamlet (Bravura), The Producers (Rainbow Stage), Avenue Q (Winnipeg Studio Theatre), Little Women, Company (Dry Cold). Dorothy is the Associate Artistic Director of Bravura Theatre, and produces their Shakespeare in the Pub series here in Winnipeg. Watch for her production On Love (play on Theatre) in this year’s Winnipeg Fringe Festival!

Richie Diggs

Richie DiggsRichie Diggs (University of Winnipeg), is glad to be returning to Winnipeg for Breaking Through. Now living in Vancouver, B.C. he has previously been in Winnipeg features such as Trish Cooper’s Social Studies (Prairie Theatre Exchange) and Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s Pirates of Penzance. Richie starred in Firehall Arts Centre’s production of Social Studies for which he was nominated for the Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards in the Best Lead Actor category.  Richie will star in Lynn Nottage’s Ruined at Dark Glass Theatre, Vancouver January of 2018.

Marsha Knight

Marsha KnightMarsha last appeared with Sarasvàti for Hope McIntyre’s production of Eden and assisted with facilitating workshops for Jail Baby. She has been in this business for over 20 years starting with Ian Ross’ Governor General’s award winning drama fareWel (PTE). She performed in fareWel two additional times, one being at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She was also in three separate productions of Rez Sisters (PTE, Theatre Northwest, Magnus Theatre). Her recent work includes Norm Foster’s Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun (Theatre Northwest), Shakespeare in the Ruins Antony & Cleopatra, and Drew Hayden Taylor’s Crees in the Caribbean  (Magnus Theatre). She thanks Hope McIntyre and Sarasvàti Productions for all their work in bringing these stories to light and for staging storytelling for us all to hear.

Harry Nelken

Mr. Nelken told us how happy he was to be part of this wonderful project.
Harry NelkenAn Equity member since 1978, he has worked extensively in theatres in Winnipeg and several Canadian cities. Selected credits: Glengarry Glen Ross, MTC  (Levine), Butcher, PTE (Josef), Zadie’s Shoes, PTE and Factory Theatre (Eli), Hamlet (Polonius), The Merchant of Venice (Shylock), S.I.R., Einstein’s Gift (Einstein), WJT/MTC, The Sunshine Boys (Al Lewis), Chemainus Theatre, B.C., All or Nothing (Unamuno) Shiksa (Abe), WJT,  The Hunting Party (Graves) for Agatha Christie Fest. At the 2017 Fringe, Mr. Nelken will be seen in Eastport.

Spenser Payne

Spenser PayneSpenser Payne is a graduate of the University of Alberta’s Bachelor of Fine Arts acting program. She is founding member of The Talentless Lumps, Red Nose Diaries and Sweet and Salty Collective. When she’s not onstage, you can find her teaching at Prairie Theatre Exchange School or studying with clown duo Mump and Smoot. Recently she traveled with Prairie Theatre Exchange’s Munchbusters! and went to Ireland to work with clown master Phillipe Gaulier. She is excited to be back working with Sarasvàti after joining them in the 2016 FemFest Bakeoff and clowing around in FemFest’s Opening Cabaret!

 

Joshua Ranville

Joshua RanvilleJosh is an actor/musician from Winnipeg. Josh has been part of a few Sarasvàti productions in the past such as: Eden workshop, Breaking Through workshop. His most recent public theatre work was a one-man touring play with the Manitoba Theatre for Young People called Routes directed by Kimberly Rampersad. Josh trained for 3 years at Studio 58 in Vancouver B.C. Josh looks forward to playing Bass with Burnt Project 1 on the Scotia-Bank Stage for Aboriginal Day Live this summer.

Catch this amazing ensemble as they bring the world premiere of Breaking Through to life at the Asper Centre for Theatre & Film May 23-28.

 

Spotlight on Director Kevin Klassen

Breaking Through launches into rehearsal at the end of this month. Leading the team of this world premiere is director, Kevin Klassen. We’re pleased to turn the spotlight on Kevin in this week’s blog.

Kevin Klassen is thrilled and grateful to be working with Sarasvàti on this challenging play, and with this exciting collection of artists. His directing credits include: JONNO, Dr. Kellogg’s System, Lulu: A Monster Tragedy, Le Grand-Guignol Sur La Prairie, MissAdventurous Perils of Pauline, Poet And The Rent (Echo Theatre); Dog Act (Nancan Boogie Productions) and Merry Wives of Windsor (SIR). He is currently developing an immersive theatrical adventure called Dracula Unearthed for Echo Theatre, to be experienced at the Dalnavert Museum this coming Halloween!

 How would you describe yourself as a director?

I consider it my job as director to help create on stage what the playwright is trying to put on the page. That leap of imagination is the primary task, and then helping to lead and facilitate that leap for everyone else involved: especially the audience. Ensuring that what the audience experiences is as much as possible what the collaborating artists intend.

Kevin Klassen

What was the impetus for directing Breaking Through?

I was honoured and flattered to be asked in the first place, and after reading the script I felt that I understood what Cairn and Hope were after, and that I had something to offer in terms of bringing it across to an audience in an entertaining, meaningful way. It tickled my imagination.

What about the script excites you? 

I think that the challenges faced by people who are affected by mental illness is a very important subject. I think the play does a very good job of balancing the serious realities of this issue with playful and creative methods of storytelling- it’s got a robust strain of humour and a rather bold theatricality.

If you could say one thing to the Artist who inspired you most, who would it be? And what would you say?

Choosing one is hard. I’ll choose the person who had the most direct impact on my sense of myself as an artist: Reg Skene. And I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to say thank you.

What do you hope the audience will be talking about on the car ride home from Breaking Through?

I hope they talk about how glad they are that they came, how much there is to consider when dealing with mental health issues, and how crucial it is to our society that we tackle these issues with compassion and intelligence and imagination- even if it means that some people have to pay a little more in taxes.

Breaking Through runs May 23-38, 2017 at the Asper Centre for Theatre & Film.

 

Rethinking Mental Illness: New play grounded in truth

MORGAN: Your worker says you have been behaving differently.

KOKO: I pride myself on behaving differently.

-excerpt from Breaking Through by Hope McIntyre and Cairn Moore

The stories of five individuals struggling with mental health issues interweave in Sarasvàti Productions new play, Breaking Through. Playwrights Hope McIntyre and Cairn Moore created Breaking Through as part of community-based two-year Mental Health is Everyone’s Health project. The project saw McIntyre and Moore team up with Artists in Health Care, Red Threads Playback Theatre and the Selkirk Mental Health Centre as well as working with multiple community organizations and the public. The resulting play is an exploration of mental illness grounded in real experience.

This week, we catch up with the playwrights to talk about the journey of this new, provocative play – from inspiration to early stages of production.

1)            What was the impetus that got you going on Breaking Through?

McIntyre: Meeting with so many people and hearing their stories was all the inspiration needed. We were lucky to have several individuals contact us to share, others show up to the open sessions and amazing workshops at numerous organizations. There was never an issue of lack of material or desire to write but more so too much material!

Moore: For me it was during our visits to female prisons across Canada during the writing of Hope and I’s play “Jail Baby.” Early on I realized at least 30 percent of the women we were meeting, had serious mental illness. In prison, those issues were not, and would never be, addressed.  I wanted to be a part of changing that.

Hope McIntyre and Cairn Moore at the book launch of their play ‘Jail Baby’

 

2)            Do you feel like your understanding of mental health has changed while working on this play? How?

McIntyre: Not changed per say as I have worked with and had many people in my life who struggled with mental health prior to this project. I think what I realized is that every individual has their own experience and own perspective. One of the challenges is to show the myriad responses and points of view. Some have been devastated by the medications they were prescribed and lost quality of life whereas others we spoke with believe the medications saved their lives. There are no easy answers or one size fits all solutions but a need to really honour each story.

Moore: Definitely. Particularly when it comes to medication in North America. While visiting Selkirk Mental Health Centre, I realized that what I originally thought was “mental illness” was really the side effects of medication. That was a scary moment.

3)            While doing research, workshops and interviews with the public, what surprised you most?

McIntyre: The willingness of people to share was the most surprising. There was clearly a desire to talk about it in order to educate, increase awareness and to stop feeling like it was something that needed to be hidden. Many people I knew beforehand in other capacities came forward to share. I feel I started to stop and listen more after going through this process. Asking someone how they are doing, really doing, can be such an important thing.

Moore: That most of us experience mental health issues, even those people who may seem like they have the world by the tail. I was surprised at just how sick people can get. How much care takers and loved ones sacrifice to help those suffering from mental illness. How very real psychosis is, to those who experience it. That we need to recognize people with mental illness, are not their illness, for example, a person is not schizophrenic; they are a person with schizophrenia. The illness should not define them, any more than cancer should define someone. That person is not cancer; they are a person who has cancer. We really need to rethink how we talk about mental illness.

4)            What do you hope the audience is talking about on the car ride home from Breaking Through?

McIntyre: I hope they are opening up about their own struggles, discussing the reality that it is universal and exploring how we should support anyone who is going through a rough time by providing them with what they need.

Moore: I hope there is passionate debate. Talking about mental illness is the first step. It is my greatest wish as a playwright, to raise questions, rather than answer them. Silence is the most difficult hurdle. We should be able to talk about mental illness with our friends, in our work place, without fear of being stigmatized.

Breaking Through premieres on May 23rd and runs until May 28th at the Asper Centre for Theatre & Film. Tickets are available now on our website or by calling the office at 204-586-2236.

The Politics of Art by Fauzia Rafique

Throughout the 16 Days of Action Against Gender-Based Violence we honour the women and girls whose lives have been taken from them. We reflect on the many women and girls for whom violence is a daily reality, and we challenge ourselves to improve the conditions of equality.

Fauzia Rafique is well-versed in using art and activism in support of equality. Fauzia is a novelist, poet, activist, and author of a piece for this year’s International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues. She has written for Pakistan Television, and published several titles, including The Adventures of SahebaN: Biography of a Relentless Warrior’  (2016), ‘Holier Than Life’ (2013) and ‘Skeena’ (2011) Fauzia blogs about Punjabi literature,  blasphemy and honor killings. We are pleased to share her entry on exploring, coping with, and reconciling violence against women through her art in our blog this week.

 

fauzia-head-shot

Fauzia Rafique – Places that have no names

The Politics of Art
by Fauzia Rafique

In 2008, in a province of Pakistan, five women were buried alive by the male members of their families with support of the local government. What came out among other things was a set of about seven poems in Punjabi, and uncontrollable crying. To this day, i cannot deliver a single one of those poems; when i try, i cry. The same happens when reading Toni Morrison’s Beloved and The Color Purple by Alice Walker. There also are characters, images and sounds i cannot express nor can i get rid of them. In other instances, the pain of knowing or experiencing wrestles with me over years to find expression.

Violence against women is only a part of the violence we experience in our daily lives. State violence against pipeline protesters or land/water protectors; word-violence or bullying in schools, on the street, and on social media; hate speeches against Muslims, Blacks, Aboriginals; constant bombings and dronings of innocent people around the world; the ongoing attacks on the dignity of less privileged people;  and, the daily incidences of police violence against the homeless. Of course, women in all groups experience it in its worst forms and to the highest degrees.

My home is in my art where i try to make sense of the perpetual systemic violence, use it as weapon to resist and to fight, inspiration to create beauty and joy, and, as meditation to stand my ground. It embodies me, and i perpetuate it.

My process is not intellectual, cerebral or emotional but instinctive, and it doesn’t require effort from me to be ‘with it’. Art is not my hobby neither it is a commercial enterprise, and so, i don’t experience the famed ‘writer’s block’; art is life, and there’s no stopping it. When not writing with hands, i write with thoughts, feel the ‘feels’, imagine the real, stretch ideas, challenge forms- all to be able to wriggle out of the numerous constructs built around me with the purpose of enslaving my mind in order to obstruct the independent flight of my imagination.

The question for me is not if my art is political or not, because all and everyone’s art is political. The question is what kind of ‘political’ it is. My art must defend me and my virtual home against systemic violence; it must resist and fight; it must be beautiful, lyrical, joyful; it must provide me solid artistic and emotional ground to take a stand and to be able to defend the politics of my art.


You can find more of Fauzia Rafique’s writing at  gandholi.wordpress.com. See her piece, “Places that have no names”,  performed live on March 11th at the International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues: Starting Over.

 

Starting Over/Finishing Stronger – Ten Powerful Monologues

What do a mystical meeting on a cycling trip across Canada, the inner monologue of a woman’s return to dating after surviving rape, and discovering the cold of Canadian winters have in common? They are all pivotal moments in women’s lives when they must face challenges and forge ahead.

This International Women’s Week Sarasvàti brings you ten engaging stories on the theme of “Starting Over.”

“Character is defined by the choices you make at junctures like these”, said Angie St. Mars co-writer of two pieces, “this year’s Cabaret showcases tangible women characters who define themselves in the moments you see played out before you. It’s exciting and scary and empowering all at once.”

After receiving an amazing array of selections from across Canada, we are honoured to share the final line-up and list of writers. This year our writing contributors include playwrights, poets, and young film makers. With a desire to reflect diverse voices and newcomer experiences our team also worked with women to put their stories in to monologue form.

Take a peek at what we have in store and check out our website for full descriptions.

  • The Pit by Alissa Watson
  • Questions and Answers by Sonya Ballantyne
  • Aabamii (Rise Up) by Madison Thomas
  • Wild Orchid by Bev Brenna
  • Three Totems by Natalie Frijia
  • Places that have no names by Fauzia Rafique
  • Diaspora by Angie St. Mars and Alka Kumar
  • You Say Tomato, I Say…Fine by Angie St. Mars from a story gathered through interviews
  • Lost Girls by Hope McIntyre with the women of IIWR-MB
    Performed and Choreographed by Sydney Macfarlane
  • In My Country by Hope McIntyre with the women of IIWR-MB

Get your tickets now. Performances on March 11 at 4pm and 8pm at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Contact Erin at touring@sarasvati.ca to book a performance at your community venue and stay tuned as we announce the actors!

 

 

Full FemFest 2013: Revelation & Revolution Lineup!

We are thrilled to present this year’s FemFest 2013: Revelation & Revolution lineup!

This year’s festival includes an exciting mix of artists who are using performance to see the world in a different light and explore notions of revolution. It will be an amazing showcase of talent from across the country as well as a celebration of local female artists.

We’ve already given you a sneak peek at some of our exciting pieces, but here’s a more comprehensive overview of what you can look forward to:

FULL PRODUCTIONS

Harold and Vivian Entertain Guests by Jessy Arden
Harold and Vivian married out of spite. The absurd world they have created for themselves is disrupted when new neighbours, newlywed Mike and Janet, come to say hello

Flood Control by Marilyn Anne Campbell
Lonely Ray stands on a bridge, building up the nerve to end his life, when he’s interrupted by Gina, a highly-organized woman who has come to kill herself simply because she has nothing left to do.

DEVELOPMENTAL WORK:

Bake-Off Coordinated and Directed by Cairn Moore
Selected playwrights are given a list of ingredients and have two weeks to mix up a script!

Giving Voice with VOICES
This new play will be developed in the Forum theatre method with workshop sessions with youth in foster care.

Perfect Love by Talia Pura
An exploration of the role gender plays in relationships. If the sexual orientation continuum is a sliding scale, is relationship-based dialogue any different for male and female characters

SHORTS:

The Exchange by Katherine Koller
Shauna doesn’t know Molly, but Molly knows Shauna by appearance, by reputation, and by name. Molly has come to trade lives.

Short-List
As fillers throughout the festival, we will offer audiences the chance to hear excerpts from scripts from the FemFest shortlist

TOURING PIECES:

Dreaming in Autism by Christine Rodriguez
La Tigressa Productions (Montreal)
Enter the world of a mother who has high hopes for her new baby boy but soon learns that he has autism. Sad, funny, but mostly full of love.

pomme is french for apple by liza paul and bahia watson
paul watson productions (Toronto)
Comprised of fast-paced series of vignettes, this vaudevillian two-woman show is a fresh, funny, irreverent and distinctly west indian look at womanhood in all its glory: its perils, its pleasures and all kinds of madness in between.

The Aftermath by Lisa Codrington (Toronto)
After an unexpected tragedy, Jane a reclusive yet outspoken middle-age woman prepares for an impending apocalypse by lecturing the audience on the important of emergency preparedness.

Cabarets
Plus our exciting opening and closing cabarets featuring women artists in all disciplines!

For our complete lineup and more information on FemFest, go to http://femfest.ca!


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Will this Judge Get the Audience’s Love? Meet Kayla Gordon!

It is time to meet the judges for So You Think You Can Act!  Our panel of experts will be sure to give Paual Abdul and Simon Cowell a run for their money!  Our first judge is the lovely Kayla Gordon, a heavy hitter in the theatre community.  She is one busy woman, and has brought Winnipeg hits like Altar BoyzThe 25th Annual Putnum County Spelling Bee, Hersteria and Spring Awakening!

Kayla has directed, acted and taught in all aspects of theatre over the past 30 years. Born in Winnipeg, and trained at the University of Winnipeg and Banff Centre, she has performed and directed in theatres in Winnipeg as well as other Canadian and US theatres.

Presently working as the Artistic Director for the Winnipeg Studio Theatre, Kayla’s most recent directing includes  Spring
Awakening ,  The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Altar Boyz which is currently on at Prairie Theatre Exchange. She also teaches Musical Theatre and Acting at the University of Winnipeg Theatre and Film Department. Kayla received the Young Leadership Award from the University of Jerusalem and she was nominated for the John Hirsch Young Directors Award.

Will Kayla’s expertise make her the audience’s favourite judge?  Will she a Paula or a Simon?  There’s only one way to find out!

Join us at So You Think You Can Act February 16th at 8pm, Gas Station Arts Centre! Tickets are limited so purchase yours in advance on our website or by calling 586-2236.