Support and education is essential to an emerging artist, and it’s the goal of Sarasvàti Productions to provide this. The company has organized close to a hundred workshops, hands on training for all areas of theatre and dozens of mentorship opportunities over its 17 years in Winnipeg.
This tradition continues with actor and community participant Kelsey Funk getting involved with the upcoming production of Breaking Through.
“Accessibility is crucial in the type of work that we are doing,” Artistic Director Hope McIntyre says. “Our mandate to use theatre for social change has to be part of every step of the process.”
According to McIntyre, mentoring emerging artists and young artists provides opportunities and training to those who might not otherwise be able to participate in the arts.
McIntyre says she works primarily with those who have lived experience of the issue Sarasvàti Productions addresses or those who will add to diversity representation of voices in the theatre. “We are also so inspired by the energy, passion and creativity of these new voices that it keeps us excited about the work that we are doing.”
Kelsey Funk originally responded to Sarasvàti Productions’ call for people to share their experiences with mental health. She was one of many people who participated in open workshops as part of the development of Breaking Through. The fact she was also a trained actor meant she became a valuable member of the team as the script was read for community groups and even adapted for a high school tour.
“I was so excited to be asked to AD for Kevin Klassen on Breaking Through.” Funk shares. She’s been involved with the development of the show since McIntyre and Moore were still just compiling research.
“It’s a show very close to my heart,” says Funk. “Having the opportunity to gain directing experience through Klassen is a blessing at this point in my career.”
Funk, who has been primarily an actor, will get to learn by relating to actors from a director’s standpoint, watching the performers use each of their own methods to get into their role, and rounding out her training with more behind-the-scenes and preparation work.
Funk says she tends to see as many shows as she can to learn, but it’s rare to watch experienced actors as they rehearse. She’s most looking forward to learning how to approach the script from a director’s point of view, developing a unified interpretation as an ensemble and leading the process of discovery.
“Being included on the script rewrites process will also help me to further develop my writing skills, which I’m always looking for!”
With assistant directing experience under her belt, Funk is aiming to further strengthen her ability to analyze and interpret text.
“If I am able to ask myself new questions about literal or metaphorical meanings in a script, or look at a character from a new perspective, I will learn so much to help me prepare for future projects and roles,” Funk says.
Her upcoming project is a spacey, mythological tale loosely inspired by David Bowie called “STARMAN.” Keep your eye out for it at the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival.
“I am new to assistant directing on a professional show, so this is very exciting,” says Funk.
Her previous experience includes directing self-written pieces such as a short film called Chill Me to the Bone (nominated for best musical in the Winnipeg Film Festival 2016) and co-directing a one-woman show she wrote for the 2016 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival (“WTF are Kale Chips?!). “I am very interested in doing more directing and gaining further experience offstage and behind the scenes of productions.”
Sarasvàti Productions is proud to see so many of the artists they have trained, mentored and given early opportunities to now established as professionals. It will be exciting to see where Funk will be in a few years.
Breaking Through runs from May 23 to May 27 at 8 p.m.; May 24 at 1 p.m. and May 28 at 2 p.m.; at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (400 Colony Street, at the University of Winnipeg). Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students/seniors. To purchase tickets and to see show times, please visit www.sarasvati.ca