Hope McIntyre, Outgoing 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 is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Winnipeg. In 2006 Hope was awarded the YMCA/YWCA Woman of Distinction Award for Arts & Culture and in 2008 the Bra D’Or award. She is also a former President of the Playwrights Guild of Canada.
Frances Koncan, Incoming Artistic Director
Frances Koncan (she/they) is a playwright, director and journalist of mixed Anishinaabe and Slovene descent hailing from Couchiching First Nation in Treaty 3 territory. After graduating with an MFA in Playwriting from Brooklyn College, she returned to Winnipeg — because her F1 Student Visa expired and she wanted access to universal healthcare — and has been making both good theatre and bad theatre, which is often great theatre, ever since. You might know her writing from plays like Women of the Fur Trade and from articles in the Winnipeg Free Press, or you might not. But either way, she is enormously excited to be joining the Sarasvàti team and to continue to champion the work of under-represented artists, voices and stories through the transformative and radical possibilities of theatre.
Wren Brian, Office Manager
Wren (she/they) 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 of gaining experience at a variety of contract jobs in theatre and film, she returned to Sarasvàti as an Administrator in January 2019. In August 2020 she began transitioning into the new position of Office Manager.
Fawnda Neckoway, Administrator
Fawnda Neckoway is from the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation in Manitoba and born and raised in Winnipeg. She has a background in film, having worked as an actress and casting director. She studied at the Academy of Acting and is an alumni of the National Screen Institute. She previously worked at Film Training Manitoba as the Aboriginal Programs Coordinator, working closely with the indigenous community. She also managed an Aboriginal Career Focus Program where she paired program participants with on-set work experience and workshop opportunities, as well as attended outreach events to encourage indigenous people’s involvement in the local film industry. Fawnda is passionate about the arts & entertainment industry and working closely within the indigenous community.
angelica schwartz, Marketing and Community Outreach Manager
angelica schwartz (they/them) is a director and collective creator born on Treaty 1 Territory (Winnipeg, MB). schwartz has had the pleasure to collaborate with some exceptional companies including All Out Arts in NYC, Buddies in Bad Times, Electric Theatre Company, The Chop Theatre, SpiderWebShow, ITSAZOO, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, and more. After graduating the National Theatre School of Canada and Studio 58, schwartz has returned to Treaty 1 Territory with a hunger to reconnect and expand their community. In addition to schwartz’s work as an artist, they enjoy fine coffee, perusing TikTok, and attends a biweekly queer bookclub.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
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.
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.
Kate Kehler, Director
Executive Director, Social Planning Council of Winnipeg
Kate is Executive Director of the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, previously Acting Executive Director of the John Howard Society of Manitoba where she gained a greater understanding of how poverty and barriers to social equity impact individuals, families, communities and government systems. She has experience in Canada’s North, living and working in Iqaluit where she was the executive director of the Law Society of Nunavut and Thompson where she worked on projects for Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc., taught and ran her own business. Our commitment to community led initiatives to better address inequity and the social ills it creates drew Kate to the SPCW. Kate’s other previous careers from substitute teacher to stage and production manager, ensures she has the necessary diverse skill set and experience to solve challenges proactively and collaboratively. Kate is a single mother of two teenage girls and a tall, dark and handsome mutt aptly name Romeo.
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, President
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, Past 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:
MARKETING ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Mandeep Cheema, Marketing Manager at Avenue 4 Communications
Diego Fernando Castro Olaya, Marketing, Innovation, Sales and Business Strategy Consultant
Jennifer Logan, Program Administrator at Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters
Amol Samra, Digital Marketing Specialist at SkipTheDishes
Kelsey Thomas, Marketing Assistant at Manitoba Hydro
INDIGENOUS ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Jamie Goulet, Grandmother Moon Lodge
Darla Contois, Theatre Artist