Setting up the new office with Frances!

As the company says goodbye to two decades of dynamic leadership by founder and outgoing artistic director Hope McIntyre, we’re also saying What’s Good? too many new and exciting things, including a brand new office space located in the heart of the Exchange District.

Our new office space is in no way complete, as we have many more serious things to attend to, like school tours, and balancing budgets, and worrying about the upcoming presidential election even though it doesn’t directly impact us. But we wanted to give you a little taste of where we’re at so far, aesthetically speaking. Welcome to 415-70 Arthur Street! Read more on this week’s blog here!

Frances Koncan typing at her computer desk.

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Meet the new team at Sarasvàti!

We are going through an exciting time of transition here at Sarasvàti, we are thrilled to announce our new trifecta that will lead the company beyond its first 20 years in Winnipeg! Our new team consists of Frances Koncan as Artistic DirectorWren Brian as Office Manager, and angelica schwartz as Marketing and Community Outreach Manager. Want to get to know the team better? Read an interview with them in our new blog post here!

Wren Brain (top left), angelica schwartz (top right), Frances Koncan (bottom left), Bernadette Peters (bottom right).

Frances, Wren, and angelica will be spending the next few months together in our new office space at 70 Arthur St, in the Exchange District, dreaming of the future of Sarasavàti. Stay tuned for their exciting plans come 2021!

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Seven Visions Tour

Every two years we hit the road with an original, interactive performance for middle and high schools. Of course this year will look a little different. We won’t be renting a van and hitting the literal road. The digital highway will have to do this year.

Seven Visions will allow students to experience reconciliation. It will be a virtual experience, but a way that we can still share the insightful, powerful, and profound stories of over 70 Indigenous youth who worked with us over the last two years. In August we brought a socially distanced and livestreamed performance of Songide’ewin to general audiences. Since then, our youth consultants have helped to craft the original source material in to a new version of the script targeted to their peers. They also advised on how to make it interactive on video.  

Our team has also been working in consultation with teachers to find the best way to move forward during the ongoing pandemic. Some students will gather at school for a viewing party with tech support and facilitation by our team. Others will watch from the comfort of their homes as part of remote learning. All students will still have an opportunity to test out options for how to address the conflict in the play, virtually stepping into the shoes of a character and exploring solutions to the challenges they faced. This is digital offering encourages youth to use their voices and to spark a dialogue about reconciliation with a greater number of students.

The virtual tour of Seven Visions will run from midNovember to the end of January. Spread the word to teachers, schools, and youth. For more information or to book a performance contact production@sarasvati.ca or call 204-306-5303.

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Call for FemFest 2021

November 30 is the deadline for submissions to FemFest 2021! We just wrapped up this year’s hybrid event and are already planning for the future. We don’t know what the fall of next year will bring, but we are committed to finding the best way to continue to showcase artists and share the power of theatre. Our theme is ‘Celebrating Difference’ and the festival is set for September 20-27. We’ve just released our call for submissions FemFest 2021 Call for Scripts and Proposals – spread the word!

For now e-mail is the best way to get a hold of us if you have questions about the call. Our team continues to be in and out of the office in order to maintain social distancing. Plus, we are packing up to head to a new administrative hub!

 

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FemFest Thanks!!

Well FemFest 2020 was not like any other year! As we closed the 18th annual festival on September 26th we were filled with gratitude. We were blessed with weather that allowed all of our outdoor shows to continue as planned. The rain cooperated, although there was some bothersome wind pushing back our tech rehearsals – no one wants to see a lighting stand blow over! Yes, it was pretty chilly for the opening of “Alice and the World We Live In” at Assiniboine Park, but we are Winnipeggers and folks arrived in their layers ready for when the sun went down. We are so thankful to Assiniboine Park and the Dalnavert Museum for hosting us plus the Downtown Winnipeg Biz. 

Hailley Rhoda at FemFest Opening

We were also able to reach a whole new audience base this year with our online options. Yep, technology wasn’t always our friend but our team worked to fix glitches and find ways to keep the show going. We’ve learned things we never thought we’d need to know!! We are thankful to our viewers for their patience and willingness to dive in to a new way of delivering a live experience. It was incredible to still connect with our touring artists virtually. 

The festival would not have been possible without our artists, production team, volunteers, sponsors, partners, funders, staff, and incredible audience. 

We experienced a blessed time ‘Engaging Community’ in line with this year’s theme and hope in the future we can all gather again safely. Until then stay healthy and let us know if you have any FemFest feedback to share via e-mail – info@sarasvati.ca .

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FemFest Raffle

Our raffle draw will be held on September 26th to mark the end of FemFest! Don’t miss out on a chance to win amazing prizes from spa packages to theatre tickets. The raffle is completely on-line this year – easy to purchase tickets without leaving your home. Not only are the odds good for winning, but you will also be supporting FemFest.

We have worked hard this year to adjust programming to showcase these amazing artists we had planned to feature before COVID hit. With outdoor shows and online options for everything, it has been a unique theatrical adventure but also does require additional expenses. Help us to continue to make transformative theatre!

Click here to purchase your raffle tickets before it is too late!

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Launching FemFest 2020

Missing theatre? Get your fill from September 19-26 at FemFest. Featuring a laugh-out-loud music sketch revue, a solo show about inter-generational trauma, and pieces about identity, our 18th annual festival focuses on ‘Engaging Community’ by putting unique stories centre stage. This year features both virtual and live socially-distanced events.

Check our website for full information and any updates. If you’ve missed your usual festivals over the summer, be sure to join us to experience the magic of theatre!

Please note that many of our live streamed shows are ticketed events. After purchase audience will receive their exclusive viewing link the day of the show. Once the show time is over, the video is gone! Be sure to check out the website and book early so you don’t miss out.

Want more:

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Incoming Artistic Director

The Board of Directors of Sarasvàti Productions is pleased to announce the appointment of Frances Koncan as Incoming Artistic Director. Hope McIntyre, as founding Artistic Director, has indicated a need to transition the company to new leadership. The filling of this position will support both the longevity of the company and allow McIntyre to focus on her role as Assistant Professor at the University of Winnipeg.

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 and has been active in the theatre scene ever since. You might know her writing from plays like Women of the Fur Trade (RMTC Warehouse, 2019/20 Season) and from articles in the Winnipeg Free Press. “I am 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,” said Frances Koncan.

The Board of Directors is thrilled to welcome Koncan to the company and they look forward to her creative contribution to the ongoing goal of transformational theatre within the community. Koncan takes up her position in time for FemFest, allowing her to experience this signature event of Sarasvàti’s calendar year and then to begin with programming decisions for the rest of the 2020/21 season.

The community owes Hope McIntyre a debt of gratitude for creating and leading what has become the most established of independent theatre companies in Winnipeg and uniquely positioning Sarasvàti Productions as an innovator in transformative theatre. The Board of Directors knows it will be difficult to fill her shoes but believes that the best way to honour McIntyre’s contribution is to ensure that Sarasvàti continues and grows as a leader in transformative theatre that presents significant social issues, engages in community collaboration, and supports emerging artists. With a new leadership model and the hiring of Frances Koncan, the succession has begun and the ground laid for a transition of responsibility to new leadership. Administrator Wren Brian, who has been with the company for over a year and a half, has moved in to the Office Manager position. She will bring incredible organizational skills and theatrical knowledge to the management of the company. The Board is still in the process of hiring a Marketing and Community Outreach Manager to create a strong, collaborative team to lead the company beyond its first 20 years in Winnipeg.

About Sarasvàti Productions: Founded in Winnipeg in 2000, Sarasvàti Productions is experimental and transformative theatre that presents significant social issues; engages in community collaboration; and supports emerging artists. FemFest has been up and kicking since 2003 and to date has showcased hundreds of artists!

For more information on this exciting transition or for media interviews please contact Debbie Norman, Board President at debnormanca@gmail.com .

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Songide’ewin – Thank You!

A huge thank you to all those who helped to make our revamped production of Songide’ewin such a success. We had sold out audience, in our socially distanced set-up at Whittier Park. Plus a couple hundred more viewers of our inaugural livestreamed production. We are grateful to all the artists, elders, advisors, community members, audience, and of course the youth who gifted their stories. We could not have asked for better weather! 

Production Designer Louis Ogemah; Photos by Leah Borchert

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Songide’ewin Coming Soon!

From August 25 to 27 we will finally share Songide’ewin with audiences! We’ve worked hard to ensure a safe process for our cast, crew and audiences. This production features the stories and lived experiences of over 70 Indigenous youth performed by a cast of 5. Join us outdoors or online!

For three nights at 7pm we will have 50 in person tickets available for the outdoor performance with socially distanced seating. Each performance will also be livestreamed for at home viewing. Tickets can be purchased online here or by calling (204) 586-2236.

Gathering online for the first rehearsal this past Tuesday was an exhilarating experience. Under the direction of Tracey Nepinak and with the support of Knowledge Keeper Gayle Pruden, the team shared how thirsty they have been to return to creative work.

Reconciliation through Theatre was initiated by an Indigenous Advisory Committee two years ago. We have since worked with seven amazing organizations to offer a creative and safe space for Indigenous youth. Using an artistic lens, with the guidance of experienced facilitators and elders, youth examined how they interact with the world around them and how the world in turn interacts with them.

Anishinaabe playwright Jo MacDonald with Darla Contois have transformed these stories into a theatrical script. With a fabulous design team, including production designer Louis Ogemah and sound designer MJ Dandeneau, renowned Cree theatre artist Tracey Nepinak will bring this production to life! In addition, participant Bear Harper is mentoring with Jaime Black to display a large mural of his artwork alongside art created during the workshops.

Our gratitude to the amazing funders who have waited with us – The Winnipeg Foundation, Province of Manitoba, Department of Canadian Heritage, NIB Trust, Manitoba Arts Council, The Winnipeg Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, and our sponsors Cushman & Wakefield | Stevenson, Wawanesa Insurance & Manitoba Blue Cross.

“You need to take everything you’ve been taught and put it aside. And really hear what the young people have to say.”

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to see this exciting performance!

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