It’s a little known fact that all of Manitoba’s local theatre companies are not-for-profit organizations. This means that these companies rely on three main sources of income to run their operations: ticket sales, grants and donations.
Ticket sales generate only so much; grants are often inconsistent; and the increasing cost of putting on a production makes it difficult for small local companies to stay afloat. So, it’s important to get creative.
For the past four years in February, Sarasvàti Productions has been producing a very different and exciting fundraiser to help them continue to create transformative theatre at an affordable price. This fundraiser is called So You Think You Can Act – a play on the popular TV show, So You Think You Can Dance.
For So You Think You Can Act (SYTYCA for short), Sarasvàti recruits seven local non-thespian celebrities to try their hand at acting.
Celebrities are given a scene from a play, paired with a professional actor, and given one rehearsal with a director before they present their scene in front of three judges and an audience.
At the end of the evening, the audience gets to vote for who they think should take home the trophy.
Celebrities are always nervous but in the end they have a blast. It’s a great way to highlight all the work that goes into performing on stage. People often don’t realize the challenges actors face.
Past audiences have unanimously said, it is an incredibly fun event. Many report laughing more at SYTYCA than at any other time of the year.
Previous winners of SYTYCA include Ace Burpee, Kerri Salki and last year’s first place tie between Big Daddy Tazz and Troy Westwood.
This year, SYTYCA will be on Wed. Feb. 18 at the Gas Station Arts Centre where an impressive and diverse group of celebrities will try their hand at acting.
The celebrities are, Rana Bokhari (Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party), Chris Cvetkovic (former Blue Bomber), André Lewis (Artistic Director of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet), Kelly Linehan (CTV), Romi Mayes (musician), Doug Speirs (columnist at the Winnipeg Free Press) and Taz Stuart (entomologist).
This year’s judges are professional actors and improvisers, Trish Cooper, Toby Hughes and Gord Tanner. To keep everyone laughing and everything running on time, Jon Ljungberg will be hosting. He has also participated as a celebrity in the past.
Ever since its first year in 2012, SYTYCA has proven to be a fun way to support Sarasvàti Productions. This unique theatre company is dedicated to promoting social change, supporting emerging artists and experimenting with new forms of theatrical presentation, in addition to making theatre accessible to everyone. For this reason Sarasvàti’s ticket prices for its productions are usually under $20, the least expensive in the city, and they strive to build connections with community groups and organizations.
For only $25 you can support Sarasvàti Productions, be entertained by your favourite local celebrities in funny scenes and partake in a wine reception. There is also a raffle with donations from a variety of local companies. All proceeds from the evening go towards supporting Sarasvàti’s current season.
Sarasvàti’s seasons include the annual ten day festival FemFest, a Cabaret of Monologues for International Women’s Week and a must-see spring production. In addition, Sarasvàti is always working on developing new work with other organizations to give people a voice.
Past collaborations include the school tour of Giving Voice, written by youth in and from care with VOICES: Manitoba’s Youth in Care Network, Jail Baby which was created with support from the Elizabeth Fry Society, and Empty which was produced in partnership with First Unitarian Universalist Church Food Bank and Winnipeg Harvest.
These productions developed with the community really have an amazing ability to touch and empower people. After a performance of Giving Voice, Margo Kehler from Vincent Massey Collegiate said, “The show was brilliant…It was so moving and insightful. My students enjoyed it thoroughly.” And a Fort Richmond student said that she “was truly touched by the play.”
In addition to giving people in the community a voice, Sarasvàti is dedicated to supporting local emerging artists. Jessy Ardern says she owes “Sarasvàti a good deal, not just as a female artist but also as a young emerging playwright” after the first professional production of her play. Sarasvàti also provides inexpensive workshops and mentorship opportunities to emerging artists regularly.
To support this transformative and empowering theatre company, consider purchasing tickets to this fun event. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by phoning 204-586-2236 or online here. If you are unable to attend, but still want to give a helping hand, a donation can be made by clicking here.
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.