How It All Comes Together

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This week we welcome our Associate Director’s perspective on our unique approach to International Women’s Week. Rachel Smith is an actor, director, writer and acting coach. She has a MA in Theatre & Performance from the University of Manchester, UK and a BA Honours in Theatre & Film from the University of Winnipeg. Rachel has worked with Sarasvati many times and enjoys her continuing work with the company. 

The Cabaret of Monologues is an event that I look forward to every year. It is such an interesting and diverse array of artistic works that beautifully captures the year’s theme. This year the theme of “Starting Over” was particularly relatable for me, and for many audience members who I encountered. Starting Over can mean different things for different people. The variety of monologues featured in the cabaret was a wonderful representation of the different perspectives on that theme. I found that I could relate to most of the monologues in one way or another.

This was the fourth year that I have been the Associate Director on the cabaret. I was delighted and honoured that I was able to work on them again this year. It is an interesting project to work on because it is not rehearsed like a normal play is. Ten separate pieces are rehearsed once a week until the weekend before the full cabaret when it all comes together. Many of the actors do not even meet until the dress rehearsal. Each monologue is given the same rehearsal guidelines but the individual pieces are so different. It is great to work with the different actors and work with the unique challenges within the individual pieces. When working on them during the months of January and February, they feel almost like separate entities that do not relate to each other. When they all come together at the beginning of March it is amazing to see the full picture: the collage that is revealed.

Each monologue is powerful in its own way. I felt that the monologues developed with the newcomers to Canada were especially powerful. Some of them had heartbreaking stories yet were filled with joy and hope. When the monologues were presented as whole it became all the more powerful. Rachel Awur Moijok Chol was one of the women whose story was told during the performance. Her story was presented as a voice over recording of Rachel speaking while Sydney Macfarlane did a movement piece. At the matinee performance on March 11, Rachel sang an absolutely beautiful song after her story was presented. While she sang, Martha Akuch Maketh joined her on stage dancing with Sydney, while the rest of the cast joined the trio to prepare for the curtain call. The image of all those women dancing together on stage is one I do not think I will ever forget. It was so incredibly powerful to see them all up there, these amazing women portraying such important stories.

– Rachel Smith

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Eager to experience more transformative theatre? Join us for the world premiere of Breaking Through (May 23-28) an awe-inspiring new play about mental health.

Spotlight on Newcomer Stories

How do we welcome new members to our local circle?
How do we provide space to hear and understand their stories?
How do we work with them to be inclusive rather than insisting they adjust to our forms?
How do we give them a role in the arts?

These were our burning questions as we began curating work for the 2017 IWW Cabaret of Monologues. We had put out a call for stories of Starting Over, and while we were thankful to receive over 4o stellar submissions, something was missing. We set to work reaching out to dozens of women who had experience as a newcomer to Canada and invited them to collaborate.

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We went all over the community, dropping in for story-gathering workshops with newcomer women’s groups including the Canadian Muslim Women’s Institute (CMWI), Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM), The Immigration Centre and more. We also lined up one-on-one interviews with women who were excited to share their story with the help of community contacts such as the International Institute for Women’s Rights Manitoba (IIWR-MB).

“The response to our call for collaboration has been overwhelming”, said Hope McIntyre, Artistic Director of  Sarasvàti Productions. “We are excited to continue to work with the amazing individuals and organizations in the long-term for our next community-based project!”

“There are few things more enjoyable than being told a good story”, said Angie St. Mars, co-writer of two of the collaborative monologues.”I would meet with the women who wanted to tell their stories. We would sit down together and record an interview. I’d go home, listen back, come up with a concept, and then write a draft. I sent each draft back-and-forth with the person who’d shared their story  and they would give me feedback throughout the writing pro0cess. This is great way to write a monologue.”

Monologues created through collaboration include:

Diaspora by Angie St. Mars and Alka Kumar
Lost Girls by Hope McIntyre with Rachel Awur Moijok Chol
You Say Tomato, I Say…Fine by Angie St. Mars from interviews
In My Country by Hope McIntyre with the women of IIWR-MB (Martha Akuch Maketh, Rosemary Kezaaba and Gertrude Hambira)

“I could have listened to the women I interviewed tell stories all day, and I hope that the audience will get swept up in them the way I did sitting across from these women”, said St. Mars. “Starting Over lends itself to so many great stories. This year’s line up is witty and intrepid and always, always so honest.”

Using the performing arts as a medium, we can inspire a larger conversation about the city, country and world we live in. It is an important time for Canada to be a leader in the future and it needs to begin with engaging people locally. What better way than through the arts?

There are two chances to see the full line-up, 4pm and 8pm on Saturday, March 11th.
Celebrate International Women’s Week with us!

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Going Above and Beyond in 2017!

Happy New Year! We are excited to announce our goals for 2017! We aim to break new ground and cover uncharted territory in order to realize our vision of transforming society through theatre. Check out what we are setting our sights on this year:

1.PROMOTE DIVERSITY ON THE STAGE

If you think the Equity in Theatre stats on women in the industry have a long way to go, wait until you see the stats on diversity. Promoting diversity in the local theatre scene generates growth, equity and human understanding within the arts community and audiences.  We are proud to produce a season of theatre and workshops that respond to the lack of equity on Canadian stages proactively. January 11th marks the launch of our second round of free theatre workshops for Indigenous and newcomer youth in Winnipeg’s North End.  This March, we highlight the stories of newcomer women throughout International Women’s Week with the 2017 Cabaret of Monologues: Starting Over.

 

2. SUPPORT EMERGING ARTISTS

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Coffee with a Pro

After successfully piloting Coffee with a Pro, an informal mentorship series that sets emerging artists up with an established artist in their field to talk shop over coffee, we look forward to expanding the series into even more disciplines in 2017.

We have received ample requests for an Audition workshop geared to those who have never auditioned before. This Spring, Hope McIntyre will facilitate just that with Auditioning 101. Stay tuned for details.

3. HAVE SOME FUN AND RAISE SOME FUNDS

audience-shotWe’re rolling into uncharted territory with a brand new fundraising event. On April 9th at Academy Lanes some of the most well-known CEO’s and business leaders in Winnipeg will square-off in a Strike-a-Thon with pledges and proceeds going to Sarasvàti Productions.

Plus last year’s Women’s Comedy Night was such a success that we can’t wait for round two in the fall of 2017!

4. BUST BARRIERS

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Staged reading of Breaking Through, May 2016

After over two years of community-based research, workshops, and interviews we are thrilled to present the full production of Breaking Through May 23-38, 2017.

The Mental Health is Everyone’s Health project saw Sarasvàti’s artists team up with Artists in Health Care, Red Threads Playback Theatre and the Selkirk Mental Health Centre as well as multiple community organizations and members of the public to create a play that takes a realistic look the way mental health issues affect us all. The result is a bold theatrical experience that is guaranteed to spark dialogue.

5. CELEBRATE SUCCESSES

FemFest turns 15 this year! We are working on the line-up that will appropriately celebrate our landmark festival of plays by women for everyone! You can look forward to some exciting surprises and special guest artists.

 

That’s our top 5, but when all is said and done we are basically going to produce kick-ass art and we want you to be a part of it!  Stay posted on our events by following us here!

 

Workshops Open Up the World of Theatre for Youth

Do you have an interest in acting but not sure how to get started? Do you want to learn about other aspects of theatre, like writing for the stage, and directing? Frances Koncan and Sarasvati Productions have put together a FREE theatre workshop series for youth age 16-24 in the North End.

“The purpose of the Sarasvati Youth Theatre Workshop Series is to find and develop the talent and ability of Indigenous and Newcomer Youth who are interested in the arts, especially acting, writing, and directing”, said Koncan. Frances has coordinated the workshop series, bringing local theatre artists on board to help teach and facilitate. The workshops will give priority to youth who are Indigenous, and youth who are newcomers living in the North End.

“These groups are under-represented in the landscape of Canadian theatre”, said Koncan, “these workshops exist to increase access for these youth to explore their interest in theatre and, if they so choose, lead to opportunities to continue their training and work professionally in the theatre industry!”

Youth who participate in the free workshop series will have the opportunity to:

-Meet professionals who work in the arts
-Learn theatre basics in performing, writing, and directing
-Practice and develop new skills
-Play games, enjoy snacks, and meet new people!

For those interested there will be a chance to take part in a continued series of workshops to develop your skills, and opportunities to work professionally with Sarasvàti in the future! So what are you waiting for?

Come to our FREE drop-in theatre workshop on January 11th 2017 from 4:00PM – 6:00PM at Art Kitchen, 508 Selkirk Avenue.

For more information or to register email Frances at frances@sarasvati.ca
A big thank you to funders NECRC and Neighbourhoods Alive!

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Making Noise for Mental Health at the Millennium Library

The awesome cast & crew of Shattered have been busy touring all over Manitoba, and now they’re excited to be performing in the heart of their home city at the Millennium Library!

shattered-rehearsal-oct5_2016-092Shattered has been making an impact and by the end of the run will have done 59 performances! Here’s what some of the teachers have had to say.

The show was great! I’ve had a chance to speak with about 75% of the students who saw it and it has generated some very honest discussion–exactly what we were hoping for” – John Kerr, Balmoral Hall

“I discussed the play with both my theatre classes and the overall consensus was that it was fantastic. I even had a colleague stop me in the hall to tell me how moved she was by the performance and the interaction with the kids. This was, bar none, the absolute most engaging piece I have witnessed at our school. Our students really became involved with the piece and I think it resonated powerfully with them all, particularly the message that they are not alone.” – Kim Dudek, Murdock MacKay

“The power of forum is nothing short of amazing.  The way it allows for tough topics to be talked about and considered in such depth, it makes me wonder why this type of theatre isn’t being done more often by more companies (or in more schools for that matter!).  The fact that Sarasvati has mandated to produce a forum piece on a two year cycle that hinges on a topic pressing in the broader community is something that needs to continue to happen.”- Brett Schmall, Green Valley School

One of the best parts of performing Shattered is engaging with the students during the ‘interventions.’ The interventions are moments when the students clap to stop the action of the play because the want the characters to make a different choice.

One student, who was initially so nervous she wanted someone else to speak for her wound up taking control and leading the scene herself! She wanted to go over to KoKo to comfort and offer help. She  said that we all have problems and KoKo is dealing with hers in her own way. It was a great moment to experience.

On November 26th Sarasvàti Productions will welcome local youth organizations to a free performance in the Carol Shields Auditorium thanks to a partnership with the Millennium Library. While the performance is mainly for youth organizations, we will be offering a few seats to the public. If you’d like to attend, please RSVP at 204-586-2236 or by emailing associate@sarasvati.ca.

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Sharon Bajer and Jan Skene Share Their Knowledge!

Are you an emerging artist? We are offering a chance to get inside information from the pros through a wonderful series of workshops this season! We’re excited to report that our first workshop, The Wonderful World of Grants 101, filled up completely well before the registration deadline! A good reason for emerging artists to sign up ASAP for our next two workshops:

How to Get Your Foot in the Door with Sharon Bajer
Tuesday, January 27th 4:30pm to 6:30pm
$15 Fee
Sharon Bajer HeadshotSharon is an actress, playwright and director and currently the Directing Artist-in–Residence at Rainbow Stage. Recent credits include acting in The Seagull and A Christmas Story at RMTC, directing Portage and Munsch (PTE), Run for Your Wife (Festival Antigonish), Bloodless (White Rabbit Productions), Riddle Me Home (Tapestry New Opera), The Ends of the Earth (PTE@PTE) and Cry After Midnight and Eden for Sarasvàti. Sharon was a participant in Stratford’s Michael Langham Workshop in Classical Direction for the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Sharon is a member of the Playwrite’s Unit at PTE. She has written several plays including Hersteria, Burnin’ Love and Molly’s Veil. Sharon is a graduate of Studio 58.

With all her experience as an actress, playwright and director she will teach participants how to make sure their cover letters, resumes, headshots, and scripts are actually considered. Sharon will teach participants about formatting standards, tips on writing great cover letters, and how to layout their resume to conform to industry standard and stand out from the others. Deadline to register and pay is January 13th!

Get Your Act Together – Introduction to Business Basics for Theatre Artists with Jan Skene
Sunday, March 8th 4pm to 6pm
$15 Fee

As a working theatre artist, you are essentially your own small business! Being self-employed brings many challenges but also many benefits over the course of an artist’s career. This introductory workshop offers an opportunity for artists to have their questions answered in relation to self-promotion, membership in EQUITY/ACTRA, dealing with taxes and accessing resources.

Jan Skene HeadshotJan Skene is best known as an accomplished actor/singer and director, having appeared on almost all of Winnipeg’s main stages over the past 25 years. Recent highlights include Peter Pan (MTYP), White Christmas (RMTC), The Brink (PTE), Footloose (Rainbow Stage), Hersteria at the Winnipeg Fringe, Follies (Dry Cold). Jan has been working steadily as an actor, puppeteer and voice performer in Manitoba’s film and television industry. She has many film, tv and radio credits to her name including series lead on Fred Penner’s Place and Tipi as well as principal roles on Strings, The Plague, The Atwood Stories, The Many Trials of Jane Doe.

Jan is currently Vice President of the ACTRA Manitoba Council and head of the Training Committee. She has co-developed and delivered ACTRA’s Apprenticeship Training Course over the past several years is currently a member of the Film Training Manitoba Board. In addition to her work as a performer, Jan is co-founder and business manager of Skene Stunts Inc. with her husband Rick Skene. Together with their sons Daniel and Sean they have worked on over 150 film and television productions.

For more information on these or are other awesome opportunities for emerging artists click here! To register phone or email Wren at 204-586-2236, wren@sarasvati.ca

Ready, Set, Register!

Everything you ever needed to know to get ahead as an artist will be covered in our exciting workshop series! After a great first installment of our monthly event, Work It Night on November 17th, we’re eager to reveal what other great events we have planned for emerging artists! Back in September we conducted a survey of emerging artists to ask what was needed and wanted. We received great responses that prompted us to create Work It Nights in partnership with ACI Manitoba, and these four workshops:

First up is…

The Wonderful World of Grants 101
Grant Writing Workshop

Facilitated by Martine Friesen and Dominic Lloyd
Saturday, December 13th 1pm to 2:30pm
University of Winnipeg Asper Centre for Theatre & Film
Cost: FREE!
Deadline to register is December 5th

WAC & MAC logoEveryone talks about grants, but who exactly are they for? Are you eligible? How do you apply for them? Martine Friesen from Manitoba Arts Council and Dominic Lloyd from Winnipeg Arts Council are here to help. They will talk about the various grant programs each of their organizations offers, who is eligible and how you apply for them, particularly as an emerging artist. This workshop is free, however you are required to register by December 5th.

 

After a bit of a break for the holidays, we kick the New Year off with…

 

How to Get Your Foot in the Door
Submissions Workshop with Sharon Bajer

Tuesday, January 27th 4:30pm to 6:30pm
Manitoba Association of Playwright’s Rory Runnells Studio at 504-100 Arthur Street (Artspace)
Cost: $15
Deadline to register and pay is January 13th

Sharon Bajer

Sharon Bajer

Like it or not, as a theatre artist you will be sending out a lot of submissions. Make sure your cover letters, resumes, headshots, and scripts are actually considered. Learn about formatting standards, tips on writing a great cover letter, and how to layout your resume from local actor, playwright and director Sharon Bajer. Through this workshop you’ll learn how to make your submissions conform to industry standard and stand out from the others. Deadline to register and pay is January 13th.

 

This is followed closely by…

 

Theatre Lives: Q&A with Krista Jackson & Rod Beilfuss

Krista Jackson

Krista Jackson

Thursday, February 5th 5:30pm to 7:30pm
Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre Mainstage Boardroom
Cost: FREE!
Please RSVP to confirm your attendance

Krista and Rod have both led fascinating careers as actors and directors. Both have worked and studied outside of Manitoba, and founded their own theatre companies.

Rod Beilfuss

Rod Beilfuss

Krista is the director of Royal MTC’s Private Lives, however she has also worked with the Shaw Festival, Stratford Festival, MTYP, her own company zone41 as well as last year’s The Seagull at Royal MTC. Rod joins her as apprentice director of Private Lives. Rod has been active in the Winnipeg theatre community for many years as one of the founding members of Theatre by the River. This is your chance to ask these two talented theatre artists about their careers, their work on Private Lives and get tips as artists! Seating is limited, please RSVP to reserve a spot. This workshop is being presented with support from the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre.

 

And finally, to finish the season off…

 

Get Your Act Together
Introduction to Business Basics for Theatre Artists with Jan Skene
Sunday, March 8th 4pm to 6pm
MAP’s Rory Runnells Studio at 504-100 Arthur Street (Artspace)
Cost: $15
Deadline to register and pay is February 20th

Jan Skene

Jan Skene

As a working theatre artist, you are essentially your own small business! Being self-employed brings many challenges but also many benefits over the course of an artist’s career. Jan Skene has been working as a professional actor and business manager in film and theatre for over 28 years. This introductory workshop offers an opportunity for artists to have their questions answered in relation to self-promotion, membership in EQUITY/ACTRA, dealing with taxes and accessing resources. Deadline to register and pay is February 20th.

 

So mark your calendars, and email or phone Wren (wren@sarasvati.ca, 204-586-2236) to confirm your spot today! Space is limited in all of these, so don’t delay! (hey that sort of rhymed!)

Plus don’t forget upcoming Work It Nights on December 15th, January 19th February 16th and March 16th.

For more info on Work It Nights and the workshops, click here!