FemFest 2020 Line-Up

We are excited to announce the line-up for our 18th annual festival! FemFest 2020: Engaging Community is coming up in September 2020 and gives us all something to look forward to. Over a year ago we started planning an amazing array of artists for the festival. We are pivoting some aspects to be offered virtually in order to respect the health and safety of audiences as well as artists, however we are excited to share the incredible work by nationally-renowned women and non-binary artists we have been collaborating with. The annual festival of life-changing plays by women for everyone runs September 19-26. This year’s festival features eight days of thought-provoking plays, readings, skill-building workshops, and our annual Opening Night Cabaret.

Check out our FemFest website for all of this year’s programming. Keep checking back for updates on how and where components will be delivered. You can also check out the brochure to get a full sense of the festival we imagined months ago and are committed to seeing through in unique and exciting ways!

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Call for Bake-Off

We are accepting submissions from playwrights for our annual FemFest Bake-Off. Five Manitoba women/non-binary playwrights will be selected to participate. A meeting will occur in August at which the writers will be given their ingredients to bake a new script. Readings of the resulting work will take place on September 21st at FemFest 2020: Engaging Community. The audience will then select the piece they would like to see further developed. The winner receives a $500 prize and a slot for a full reading at FemFest 2021.

Please review the full submission details here. We are seeking applications from a wide-range of writers and encourage anyone needing assistance with their application to contact us at info@sarasvati.ca .

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Hiring – Building a Team

We are excited to announce a new staff structure and opportunities for new leadership and team members. Over the last eight months, thanks to the support of the Winnipeg Foundation, the Board of Directors of Sarasvàti Productions has had the valuable ability to assess leadership structure and office operations. With an Assistant Artistic Director job shadowing the founding Artistic Director, there was the opportunity for a thorough review of operations. Every activity has been documented, the programming assessed, and critical paths created. As a result, the best path forward for sustainability and a healthy work balance has become clear. This is an exciting but challenging time for transition as we navigate a way forward while also responding to the current crisis that has led to postponing and redesigning programing.

We want to share with all of our supporters, patrons, and artists that there has been a slight change in direction from where we were a year ago. This is a positive development based on having the ability to look forward after the experience of an outside perspective. The practical needs of the company require a better distribution of work among staff and a reduction in capacity. To this end we are excited to announce that a new model for our leadership team has been finalized. It will be a core group of three. An Artistic Director, Office Manager, and Marketing and Community Outreach Manager will work together to keep Sarasvàti Productions running day to day and achieving our mandate of using theatre to propel social change. This triumvirate will mean being able to spread out the responsibilities and workload so the company is not resting solely on the shoulders of the Artistic Director. It also means that the team can bring different skills and effectively collaborate through both a difficult post-crisis time as well as the challenge of transition away from a founding Artistic Director model. Due to our current budget limitations, the three positions will start as part-time, but will allow a much better life balance by supporting one another. We are not a traditional theatre company, and therefore a traditional model did not fit. On top of artistic considerations, the administrative workload of an organization that has grown over twenty years, we also have a commitment to community that requires intensive outreach.

A search, exploration of shifting current staff in to these new roles, and ultimate hiring process will take place in the coming months with a goal to have candidates ready to begin overlap by September’s FemFest. A full transition will occur by the end of fall 2020.

A huge thank you to the current staff for amazing work and input in assessing needs.

Please see postings for the Artistic Director Job Posting and Marketing & Community Outreach Manager Job Posting

Plus an internship position beginning in August – Production Tour Coordinator Intern posting 2020

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General Auditions – Virtually

We are seeking submissions from actors, but due to the need for on-going social distancing we won’t be holding in person general auditions this year. Simply express your interest via email submission with a headshot and resume. We will then hold show specific virtual auditions as needed for our 2020/21 season.

DEADLINE
It is recommended that you submit before June 15th, 5pm, however we will be accepting submissions on an ongoing basis.

Please submit by email to production@sarasvati.ca or call (204)-586-2236 for more information.

Please email your headshot and resume in PDF format and any pertinent information regarding your availability.

Sarasvàti Productions is looking for a diverse range of performers. We are committed to inclusive casting welcoming people regardless of age, ability, gender, and ethno cultural background.

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Black Lives Matter: Official Statement

Over the last week, we’ve been reflecting on how best to use our platform as a way to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Of course, one statement on social media is not enough, there also needs to be action taken to ensure that we continue to centre BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) artists and their stories. While we show our solidarity through partnering with community groups and hiring artists of colour, we know we have to do better and work harder to dismantle systemic racism within our organization and our industry. More on this to come.

Below is the official statement we posted on June 2, 2020. 

As a theatre company with a mandate to produce theatre for social change, we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

The horrific events of the past week have been a stark reminder about how police violence disproportionately impacts Black, Indigenous and people of colour in Canada and the United States.

We want to actively challenge the far-too white, able-bodied, cisgender, heteronormative theatre we see. We acknowledge our role in dismantling these structures that perpetuate racism by centring Black artists and their stories, recognizing our privilege, and choosing allyship over silence.

We also acknowledge the historic and continuing racism directed at Indigenous people which is taking place on stolen Indigenous land.

We support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) performers, writers, and artists. We support these members of our local theatre community and theatre communities everywhere.

We know words aren’t enough. But now isn’t the time for us to talk, but rather, to listen.

Here is a link to anti-racism resources https://docs.google.com/…/1BRlF2_zhNe86SGgHa6-V…/mobilebasic

And here is a link to a list of 10 historic Black theatre companies we encourage you to donate to (if you are able) in this time: https://www.theatermania.com/…/10-black-theater-companies-d…

And finally, we wanted to bring attention to the Black Lives Matter march that is taking place in Winnipeg, in front of the Legislative building, at 6 PM on Friday, June 5. There’s critical information in the event description here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2522942161368878/

After posting on our Facebook Page, it was pointed out that many of the shared resources were from the States and we were encouraged to include Black theatre companies in Canada, which you can find below:

Black Theatre Workshop

b current

Obsidian Theatre Company

Little Black Afro Theatre Company

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Virtual One Night Stand

On Thursday, June 11th at 7pm our first virtual edition of our One Night Stand will take place. This series of readings focused on the development of new works has been offered in many iterations over the last eighteen years, but never before on-line. It is a great way to get a sneak peek of what is up-and-coming in Winnipeg’s theatre scene!

We are excited to welcome Launchpad alumni Jonathan Mourant as coordinator for the launching of the virtual One Night Stand Series. An amazing array of script excerpts were submitted by local playwrights and although five have been selected for June, more sessions are possible down the road. Each edition will offer excerpts of new works in early stages of development, read by an ensemble of actors, and tested before an audience. The goal is to focus on the playwright and what would help them get to the next stage with the script they are working on. To that end we’ll be seeking as much feedback as possible from all who tune in. You can  join in to provide feedback on Zoom or simply tune in to listen to the livestream on our Facebook Page.

The selections are:

Love Letters for Juliet
by Makrenna Sterdan
conceived by Makrenna Sterdan and Joanne Roberts

The Bridge
by Veralyn Warkentin

Seekers of Atlantis
by Kevan Bowkett

Strawberries & Cream
by alison mcLean

The Planet
by Ty Ballingall

Check out our blog for full bios on the playwrights. 

Keep up to date through our Facebook event as we finalize the ensemble cast and other details. 

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FemFest 2020 – Save the Dates!

We are moving ahead with planning for September 19 to 26! This will mark our 18th annual FemFest and this year’s theme is Engaging Community

What the festival will look like is still a work in progress. Our amazing team is developing multiple contingencies depending on the reality that we may be in come September. We are optimistic that there still may be live events. Perhaps smaller audiences nicely spread out. Maybe it will be a hybrid year with some live and some virtual offerings. Like many other festivals and performing arts organizations we are exploring, experimenting and ready to offer the best programming we can.

Before the world paused we had lined up three amazing touring shows and a stellar guest artist. We’ll be announcing these acts with our brochure later this month as our ideal for September. It is a mix of work that tackles identity in terms of the struggle to fit in to a community; work that continues to allow us to pursue our commitment to reconciliation; and even some sketch comedy to lighten the mood.

Most exciting is working with guest artist Chantal Bilodeau. She is truly living through the crisis, as a former Canadian now in New York. Whether live in Winnipeg or virtually, we have an array of activities planned with her facilitating on the theme of climate change and the arts.

Chantal Bilodeau photo

FemFest 2020 Guest Artist – Chantal Bilodeau

Chantal Bilodeau is a Montreal-born, New York-based playwright and translator, whose work focuses on the intersection of science, policy, art, and climate change. Her plays and translations have been presented in a dozen countries around the world, and she is a recipient of the Woodward International Playwriting Prize as well as the First Prize in the Earth Matters on Stage Ecodrama Festival and the Uprising National Playwriting Competition. She serves as the Artistic Director of The Arctic Cycle and is currently at work on a series of eight plays that look at the social and environmental changes taking place in the eight Arctic states.

“I really look forward to FemFest! I’m excited to connect with people in Winnipeg and start to imagine together the just and sustainable future we want to create.” – Chantal Bilodeau

Stay tuned for more announcements and the full festival details!

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Producing 101 Virtual Workshop

We’re excited to announce our next on-line workshop scheduled for Saturday, May 30 at 1pm: Producing 101 – Virtual Edition.

Coming up with a script or show idea is half the work, but once you have that, what then? If you’re thinking of self-producing this workshop is for you! It will provide a helpful breakdown of the fundamentals required to take your vision to the stage. Through this virtual training experience industry professionals will provide participants with an overview of producing their own theatrical performance from A-Z. Topics for discussion include budgeting, scheduling, production tech planning, plus marketing and communications. Our goal is to equip artists with helpful knowledge in preparation for future self-producing, as well as creating an opportunity for discussion between artists in our local community.

Cost: You decide!
Artists can choose their registration fee – $20, $15, $10, $5 or free depending on what you can afford. We believe in paying artists, so monies earned from registration will be used to pay facilitators and to continue similar programming. 

Unlike a panel, this will be a skill-development session and as a result will only be open to a limited number of participants.

Facilitators:
Tori Popp
Festival Manager, Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival
Tori is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg with a BA Honours in Theatre Production & Stage Management. Currently, most of her time is spent with the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival as Festival Manager, though she enjoys taking on other projects to continue her passionate support of the fantastic local theatre companies in Winnipeg including her role as Production Coordinator with Sarasvàti’s FemFest. As the FurMom of two rambunctious, nearly 1 year old kittens, when she’s not working, the rest of her days are filled with snuggles, kibble, and nursing foot pain from stepping on cat toys.

Charlene Van Buekenhout
Artistic Producer, Echo Theatre
Charlene is a Metis / Belgian / Canadian theatre artist residing in Winnipeg. She is an actor, the creative programmer at Dalnavert Museum and the Artistic Producer of Echo Theatre. She has been self-producing independent theatre in Winnipeg for over 15 years. New projects include a pandemic postponed Kids Fringe show called Imagination Invasion, and her daughter Phoebe who is turning 1. Solo work includes ghost story telling using Crankies (look it up!), shadow puppets and the dark. Past Echo Theatre productions include: HAMLET (the rest is silence), Hedda Gabler, Blithe Spirit, A Strange Pair, JONNO. Theatre experiments and workshops include: Dr. Kellogg’s System, and The Smell of Dead Mums.

Hazel Venzon
Hazel is a theatre artist: an actress, social-performance artist, writer, director and producer. Her artistic background is rooted in sculpture and performance art (University of Manitoba’s School of Fine Art) and formal acting training (Studio 58). Hazel has been a national theatre artist for over 20 years. Her work as an actress and social-performance artist has been presented in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Victoria, Whitehorse and Winnipeg. She has produced for festivals such as PuSh, Luminato and Magnetic North Theatre Festival. She is currently, the Artistic Associate at Prairie Theatre Exchange, Central Operative for Mammalian Diving Reflex and the Co-Artistic Director for UNIT Productions. She continues to explore the definition of theatre and performance through social engagement, crossing through multiple disciplines; focused on the investigation of Canadian identity.

We are so grateful to be able to bring art and knowledge to the arts community during these difficult times.  

You can pay/register here. Please feel free to email info@sarasvati.ca with any questions! Deadline for registration is May 15th, 2020 or once spaces are full.

If you are an artist looking for other opportunities, don’t forget that for female and non-binary emerging artists, our Launchpad Project is still accepting applications until May 1st. For both emerging and established playwrights, our One Night Stand workshop reading series is also taking submissions until May 8!

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Call for One Night Stand

We are now accepting submissions for our One Night Stand reading series, which will take place in June! Deadline is May 8, 2020. A great opportunity for all playwrights looking for a way to keep developing their work.

After several years of programming this unique event, we are excited to try some new approaches. One of which is moving it to a virtual platform so it can be held while we continue to practice social isolation.

We are currently seeking submissions of 10-minute scenes from emerging and established Manitoban writers of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. In order to provide the most applicable and helpful feedback to the participants, we recommend that submissions be in an early stage of development, preferably having received little to no professional dramaturgy. 

Check out the call for submissions for full details: One Night Stand Call for Submission 2020

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Reconciliation Through Theatre Video

Although the culmination of our reconciliation through theatre project had to be postponed, we are excited to share this video looking back at the amazing work with youth. A huge thank you to Hue for compiling it and to all our wonderful partner organizations for their ongoing support. From June to November 2019, we were honoured to hear the perspectives of over 70 youth and have them share their artwork with us. We can’t wait until the time is right to gather and share with a wider audience. It will truly be a celebration as we come together again as a community. 

 
 

Stay tuned for new dates for the full performance  of Songide’ewin!

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