Strong women building strong communities, one monologue at a time

The damsel in distress, the dumb blonde, the love interest – boring tropes overused in present day media and literature, especially considering it’s the 21st century.

Since 1996, Sarasvàti Productions has been dedicated to theatre that breaks through these stereotypes. One of the ways is by putting on a Cabaret of Monologues during International Women’s Week that feature compelling and dynamic female characters.

Sarasvati SuperWoman - Designed by Emily Ormonde

Sarasvati SuperWoman – Designed by Emily Ormonde

The IWW Cabaret of Monologues began in 2004. Since then, over a hundred playwrights have answered the call to submit monologues, featuring female characters and dozens of pieces, selected to represent a diverse range of women.

Each year, there is a full public performance on or around International Women’s Day, and in the week leading up to the presentation, Sarasvàti brings these monologues to the community.

Choosing from the performance line up, community organizations across Manitoba select their favourite monologues to be presented at their own events.

In the past, the work has been shared at events hosted by Nova House Shelter for Women and Children in Selkirk, Manitoba Teacher’s Society, both U of W and U of M Womyn Centres and even in correctional institutions.

The community performances allow people, who may not otherwise have access to theatre, to experience the empowerment that comes from seeing diverse stories onstage.

It also, as Shelagh Prizey-Allen noted after the 2014 performance for the Institute for Women’s and Gender Studies, allows audience members to see pieces that reflect “a different perspective on what gender and imagining equality means.”

Anna Pazdzerski, Executive Director at Nova House, added after a performance that “the evening was fun, informative and very easy to host.”

This is why these monologues work so well in the community. Each one is informative and fun in its own way, making them easy to fit into regular programming. There is also no set; just an actor, a chair and ten minutes of entertainment.

Last year's actors at Nova House in Selkirk with Anna Pazdzerski

Last year at Nova House in Selkirk with (L-R) Anna Pazdzerski of Nova House, actors Kaeleigh Ayre, Andrea Houssin and Victoria Hill.

Kaeleigh Ayre, Andrea Houssin and Victoria Hill.

This year’s theme for the Cabaret of Monologues is SuperWomen and includes both extraordinary women and ordinary women doing amazing things. The characters range from mothers dealing with the struggles of parenting, women from the past revealing details of their lives, to an actual superhero trapped by her nemesis.

Some of these monologues will be performed at familiar organizations such as Nova House, U of M Womyn’s Centre, Siloam Mission, Portage Place Shopping Centre and Genesis House Women’s Shelter in Winkler.

In addition to returning to these organizations, Sarasvàti will be performing for the first time at Rainbow Resource Centre and a Cancer Care Young Adult Support Group meeting.

On Sun. Mar. 1, two monologues will also be performed at the Provincial Council of Women of Manitoba Annual High Tea fundraising event to go towards the work they do empowering women to improve the quality of life for themselves, their families and society.

In all, ten community performances will take place between Mar. 1 and Mar. 8 in addition to the two public presentations this year on Mar. 7 at 4 pm and 8 pm at the UW Asper Centre for Theatre and Film.

Tickets for the public performances are on sale now and are a great way to celebrate International Women’s Week. If you want to find out more, including synopses of the monologues, playwrights’ and actors’ names, or purchase tickets, visit www.sarasvati.ca or phone 204-586-2236.

Sam Walters performing at the UM in 2013

Sam Walters performing at the UM in 2013.

Sarasvàti Dramatic Theatre Productions and Repertory Inc. is one of more than 170 charitable organizations that has an Agency Fund at The Winnipeg Foundation. An Agency Fund provides a sustainable source of income for a charity. Click here to learn more about organizations with agency funds.

About

Wren Hookey works in the film and theatre industries and is currently based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, although she started her career in Whitehorse, Yukon, where she was born and raised. Wren is a graduate from the University of Winnipeg's Theatre & Film BA Honours Program (specializing in acting, directing and filmmaking). She works primarily as an arts administrator while developing her career as a writer and director.