Manitoba has the highest rate of youth in care in Canada. A First Nation’s youth is four times more likely to enter into foster care due to abuse and neglect.
This unfortunate reality has prompted Sarasvàti Productions, whose mandate has always been to promote social change and human understanding, to begin a conversation about the state of Manitoba’s foster care system from the perspective of someone who has, or is currently experiencing it.
Giving Voice is a collaboration between Sarasvàti Productions and VOICES: Manitoba’s Youth In Care Network. VOICES is part of the Boys and Girls Club of Winnipeg. Its mission is to empower and support youth in and from care.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with this important organization,” says Artistic Director, Hope McIntyre, “In fact, the idea for Giving Voice actually came from youth in the VOICES program who saw our plays, Empty and Diss, and wanted to create a play to tell their stories. This will be a great opportunity to give them a voice and let their stories be heard. Our goal is to include as many perspectives as possible with youth from various agencies.”
Giving Voice is a forum theatre piece that will be developed through workshop sessions with youth and under the guidance of McIntyre and co-facilitator Kerri Potter. The final product will be interactive, allowing the audience a chance to stop the action of the play and step in to try out more positive solutions to the problems addressed. The play will explore the issues that youth in foster care have had to deal with, from the stigma of being in care, to the transition to adulthood after care.
Theatre sessions to develop the play with youth have already started with a week-long workshop with MASSIVE in July and several other workshops taking place throughout the month of August. Through theatre games and improvisation, youth participants are able to share their stories, learn some important skills and feel empowered. The project is being funded by the Winnipeg Foundation and the Canada Council for the Arts.
The resulting draft script will be presented at FemFest, Sarasvàti’s annual festival of life changing theatre written by women for everyone. Workshop presentations will take place on September 14 at 3:00 pm and on Setpmber 19 at 2:30pm. Youth are still being sought to participate and full details on the project can be found at www.sarasvati.ca . This will be the first step towards a play that will hit schools for a full tour in the fall of 2014.
FemFest runs September 14 to 21 at the University of Winnipeg Asper Centre for Theatre and Film.