Company Profile

Company Profile


Hope McIntyre, Artistic Director
Originally from Saskatoon, Hope received her BFA in acting at the University of Saskatchewan. In 1996, Hope received a full scholarship and a research award to complete her MFA in theatre directing at the University of Victoria. The following year was spent completing an intensive, multi-media apprenticeship in acting at ARTTS International in England. While in England, Hope wrote several scripts for radio, television and stage. From 1997-1998 Hope worked in Toronto as an associate of Rare Gem Productions, an international commercial theatre producer. During this time, she also became official Artistic Director of Sarasvàti Productions. Since moving to Winnipeg in the summer of 2000, Hope has continued to work as a director and playwright, with her scripts receiving awards and publication. Hope was also awarded Mount Allison’s Crake Fellowship for both the 2001/2002 school terms, was Assistant Professor in Drama at Brandon University in 2003/2004 and currently teaches at the University of Winnipeg and at PTE. In 2006 Hope was awarded the YMCA/YWCA Woman of Distinction Award for Arts & Culture. She is also a former President of the Playwrights Guild of Canada.

Elizabeth Whitbread, Assistant Artistic Director

Elizabeth Whitbread is an actor and theatre creator born and raised in Winnipeg, on Treaty 1 territory. She has an Honours: Theatre degree from the University of Winnipeg. In 2016, she moved to Toronto where she had the opportunity to expand her knowledge of theatre producing and arts administration. She was part of Nightwood Theatre’s Young Innovators Program 2016/17, participated in the Paprika Festival’s Festival Administrator mentorship, and most recently served as The Theatre Centre’s Co-ordinator of Marketing and Administration. She also continued to create and act in theatre, including such pieces as Sarah Kane’s 4:48 Psychosis (Toronto and Winnipeg Fringe), Damn Fine Party (lost&gone), and Practice Drill (Theatre by Committee). Elizabeth is absolutely thrilled to be back home in Winnipeg and working with Hope and the team at Sarasvati!

Wren Brian, Administrator
Wren started her diverse career in Whitehorse, Yukon (territory of the Kwanlin Dün & Ta’an Kwäch’än) where she was born and raised. Currently based in Winnipeg on Treaty 1, Wren is a playwright as well as an arts administrator and producer. In her writing she is dedicated to creating characters that can be played by actors of any gender, ancestry, ability and/or age.  She is currently in PTE’s Emerging Playwrights’ Unit and MTYP’s Creators’ Unit. In 2014-2015 she did a six-month contract as the Emerging Artist in Residence at Sarasvàti Productions. After four years gaining experience at a variety of contract jobs in theatre and film, she’s happy to be back as a part-time Administrator.

Jen McDonald, Administrator

Jen graduated from the honours theatre program at the University of Winnipeg and has continued to pursue theatre as a teacher, writer, and performer for over a decade – including the creation of two Best of Fest productions at the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival. She’s a Red River College Creative Communications graduate who has spent the last few years working as a Video Journalist and in various communications roles within Winnipeg’s Arts and Cultural sector. She is excited to bring her communications training and passion for theatre to her position as part-time Administrator for Sarasvati Productions.

Nova Courchene, Indigenous Project Coordinator
Nova Courchene is Anishinaabe-kwe from Sagkeeng First Nation and Rolling River both located in Manitoba. Nova has been involved in music and theatre for five years, working with musicians and in theatre organizations out of Toronto and Winnipeg. Currently situating herself in Winnipeg, she is actively working as the Assistant Program Director at the Native Youth Theatre program, run out of Manitoba Theatre for Young People. Nova has been surrounded by various Indigenous creatives during her career including emerging playwrights, songwriters, and theatre professionals. Nova has a deep understanding of the challenges Indigenous people face in their daily lives and the conflict that colonization brings to everyday life.  Her past experience includes Arts Administrator Intern at Native Earth Performing Arts, and two intern positions at Manitoba Music including a Music Administrator Internship for 3 local Winnipeg Recording Music Artists.

Marsha Knight, Indigenous Coordinator
Marsha Knight has worked in the theatre and film industry for over 20 years. She has a wide range of experience both on and off stage. As a theatre artist, Marsha has worked extensively in Winnipeg and has performed on stage nationally as well as at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Some of her work offstage has included leading youth at Rossbrook House for both theatrical and film projects partnered with Health Canada, working as a Drama facilitator for New Directions in a classroom teaching and exposing the arts to youth who have been sexually exploited, and co-facilitating workshops as part of Sarasvàti’s three-year project to bring light to the treatment of criminalized women in partnership with the Elizabeth Fry Society of Manitoba.

Brooklyn Kilfoyle, Marketing and Community Outreach
Brooklyn is a recent graduate of the University of Winnipeg with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre. Brooklyn has been involved with the theatre industry since she was six years old. She is an actor and a playwright who has performed in both theatre and film over the last seventeen years. Brooklyn has written two productions for the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. She recently became interested in the behind-the-scenes workings of festivals and their productions. This interest and her passion to promote social change is what drew her to Sarasvàti Productions and their efforts to promote human understanding and inspire social change. She is overjoyed to be part of the team!

Sami Desiree, Production Assistant
Sami is currently a Production Honor Student as the University of Winnipeg. While she has been completing her degree, she has also dabbled in design, stage management, producing and directing. Sami started off at a young age with a passion for performance, acting in numerous productions, which has lead her to appreciate all things creative. She founded her theatre company in 2017, Beau Theatre Co. and since has produced three Winnipeg based productions and two touring productions. She truly believes theatre should alter perspective, which aligns with the work Sarasvàti does in the community. She is deeply grateful to be working for such an inspiring company.


Olatunbosun Amao, Director

Bosun has extensive experience in financial advisory and project management. Bosun’s experience span over 15 years with various organizations such as Guaranty Bank Plc, Union Bank Plc, Scotia Bank and Canada Revenue Agency. Bosun holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria and an International MBA with focus on Banking and Finance from Bologna Business School, University of Bologna, Italy. He is also PMP, PRINCE2 and Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certified. Aside his professional experience, Bosun has served at different times as drama/theatre director, head of theatre group as well as co-founder of a dance group between year 2002 and 2003 with four other friends. He has handled various theatre projects and coordinated the production of a film titled “Fatal Slumber. Bosun has passion for youth development and mentoring. He is also passionate about acting and film production. His other hobbies include soccer, travelling and spending quality time with his family.

Allison Birch, Director
Children’s Hospital Research Institute Manitoba
Allison was born and raised in Maple Ridge, BC, but moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba for school and family and now proudly calls Winnipeg home. Allison holds a BA (Hons) in Geography and a Masters in Natural Resource Management from the University of Manitoba. Her research focused on understanding how joint forest management systems work in Northern India with a strong focus on gender relations, decision making processes, and learning outcomes of participants involved. Allison is passionate about environmental conservation, gender equality and representation, and creating inclusive spaces within research, policy, and education. Since completing her education, Allison works at the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba and supports Indigenous Health and Active Transportation research. In her free time Allison enjoys spending time with family and friends, dabbling in different forms of art, testing out new culinary creations and exploring Winnipeg’s trails. Allison is honoured to be on The Board of Directors for Sarasvati Productions and strongly believes in the power of theater and art in creating community and bringing about social change and awareness.

Susan Cuvelier, Director
Assistant Professor and Clinical Hepatologist, U of M
Susan is an assistant professor and clinical hepatologist at the University of Manitoba. With an educational background in microbiology, biochemistry, and a Doctorate in Medicine, she’s received numerous awards and scholarships for her outstanding work. She also has extensive experience in grant and scientific writing, both as a writer and a teacher. She volunteers with the Fringe Festival along with her role on Sarasvàti’s Board of Directors, and has a deep love of performing arts.

Shahid Khan, Treasurer
Senior Financial Advisor, RCMP
Shahid specialises in financial management and possesses a wide range of experience in both the public and private sectors. Initially trained as an auditor in national public accounting firms, for the past 17 years he has worked for various federal government departments. He holds a BA in Philosophy from the University of Winnipeg, a Bachelor degree in Business Administration from York University, and a professional accounting designation (CPA / CGA). As a passionate advocate and supporter of literary and performing arts, he sees the arts community as playing a major role in advancing social change and transforming society. He has served in a voluntary capacity for many local not-for-profit organizations, most recently as treasurer for the Winnipeg Classical Guitar Society from 2013-2017. He is currently also serving as Treasurer for Prairie Fire Publications.

Larry Isacoff, Director
Lighting Designer/Yoga Instructor
Larry has been in the theatre industry for more than thirty years. He was the Production Manager for Prairie Theatre Exchange during its final years on Princess Street and its inaugural years in Portage Place. He was Production Manager for RMTC for 11 years just missing out on the Royal designation. He taught production management at the National Theatre School in Montreal for 5 years and truly misses Montreal bagels. He continues to work in theatre as a lighting designer. His other life is that of a certified yoga instructor, working towards his advanced certification. Theatre and Yoga both have the power to transform lives.

Navneet Malhi, Director
Student, Non-profit Residential Management

Navneet is a socially conscious student with a particular interest in the processes of criminalization and social regulation. She uses a feminist approach to legal theory, which she believes allows her to have a healthy skepticism towards the justice system which often affects and ignores the experiences of women and other marginalized people. She has done extensive research on the literary and cinematic representations of the South Asian diaspora and also worked on research regarding racialized masculinities. In her spare time, Navneet enjoys independent cinema and books that represent diasporic consciousness, migration, clashes of culture and identity crises. Navneet is honoured to be on The Board of Directors for Sarasvati Productions and believes that the company is an excellent representation of theatre and social change.

Debbie Norman, Director
Director, Glassco Foundation
Debbie has spent most of her life in Winnipeg and is proud to call it her home. She loves the city and feels its active arts scene expresses its incredible diversity. Her other volunteer activities have supported wilderness education and environmental issues. She had a busy career in IT and the University of Manitoba and now is focusing her time supporting community development projects in Zambia. Debbie is thrilled to join the Board and looks forward to the adventure.

Erin Meagan Schwartz, Secretary
Emerging Theatre Artist Representative
Erin Meagan Schwartz is a trans-disciplinary artist, actor, and creator from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Treaty 1 Territory, Home of the Metis Nation. She has improvised her way through festivals in Vancouver, Edmonton, and Winnipeg in addition to producing local improv shows with The Neighbourhood Watch, and working as staff with the Canadian Improv Games. Schwartz just graduated this spring with an honours degree in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Winnipeg and has worked on research regarding gender in improvisation by looking at the intersections of theatre and feminism and how they can work together to enact social change through intervention. Previously, Schwartz completed a practicum placement with Sarasvati and is thankful for the opportunity to be involved with the Board to support and represent emerging artists.

Cindy Singer, Director
Retired Senior Accountant
A lifetime Winnipegger, Cindy’s main career has been in small business accounting for many for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.  Cindy has a BA in religion from the University of Manitoba and a certificate in Arts and Cultural Management from the University of Winnipeg’s PACE program.  An avid volunteer, Cindy supports many Arts Organizations as well the Alzheimer’s Society of Manitoba, Main Street Project and Kid’s Help Phone.  She has volunteered for Sarasvati Productions for many years and is honored to join the board.

Myra Tait, Vice-President
Member of Berens River FN; Lawyer and Aboriginal law & policy consultant
Myra is a member of Berens River First Nation. She is a practicing lawyer, and further holds a Master of Laws (on Treaty implementation and taxation). Myra has participated in international research on constitutional development and Indigenous inclusion in NZ and Australia, is the co-editor of Surviving Canada: Indigenous Peoples Celebrate 150 Year of Betrayal (ARP 2017), and teaches on Sustainable Development for Aboriginal communities.

Judy Wasylycia-Leis, President
Community Advocate / Former Member of Parliament
Involved in public service all her adult life, Judy served as Manitoba’s Culture Minister before working as MP for Winnipeg North from 1997 – 2010.  During her time in Ottawa, Judy was critic of Heath, Finance, Status of Women, Immigration and Persons with Disabilities. Judy resigned from her position as MP in order to run for the Mayor of Winnipeg in 2010 and then again in 2014. Over the last five years, Judy has been involved in democracy strengthening initiatives with the National Democratic Institute working on projects in Jordan, Kosovo, Pakistan and Tunisia. An avid promoter of Winnipeg’s rich cultural scene and a founder of the North End Artists Collective, Judy believes in the transformative power of the arts in building community.

Susan Tymofichuk, Media Advisor
Susan is best known for anchoring the CTV News at 11:30, and reporting live on location for CTV News at Six. Susan began her career at CKX Television in Brandon, and has also worked at A-Channel, CityTV, and Global Edmonton. Susan is a graduate of the Creative Communications program at Red River College.

Additional Community Committee Members include:

Nan Fewchuk, Theatre Artist and Educator
Cairn Moore, Playwright and Educator
Rachel Smith, Theatre Artist

Rasha Kossad, Administrative Professional
Jennifer Logan, Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation
Kelsey Thomas, Marketing Assistant Manitoba Hydro

Margaret Lewis-John, Manitoba Sustainable Development
Patrick McCauley, Volunteer Resource Assistant at Seven Oaks General Hospital

Jamie Goulet, Grandmother Moon Lodge
Darla Contois, Theatre Artist

Up Next

Up Next for Sarasvàti

110 artists and production crew, 39 volunteers, and countless audience members made FemFest 2019 a huge success! We reflect…