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Diversity takes centre stage as Winnipeg theatre group launches new season

Experimental theatre group Sarasvàti Productions starts its 2017/18 season, Envision, this Friday.

A promotional image for 'Two Indians,' one of the works that will be previewed at Sarasvàti Productions' launch party on Friday.

Contributed

A promotional image for 'Two Indians,' one of the works that will be previewed at Sarasvàti Productions' launch party on Friday.

The founders of a Winnipeg theatre company are imagining a more inclusive stage as they prepare to rise the curtains on a new season.

Experimental theatre group Sarasvati Productions starts its 2017/18 season, Envision, this Friday, as the company celebrates its 17th year.

“We looked at what we’re working on and so much of it is envisioning a new way of thinking, a new way of seeing things, possibilities,” said Sarasvati founding artistic director Hope McIntyre, noting the season will highlight cultural changes the company would like to see moving forward.

Since Sarasvati’s inception, there has been increased inclusivity in the local theatre community, McIntyre said, but more work needs to be done.  

“The voices of women, and ethno-cultural diversity, are still relegated to independent theatre, or small festivals or small theatre companies,” she said.

That sentiment is backed by data too. The latest Playwrights Guild of Canada (PGC) annual theatre production survey (2015-16), says men created 54 per cent of productions, women produced 34 per cent, and mixed gender partnerships made 12 per cent — though those figures show less disparity than the previous year.

Equity in Theatre, a division of PGC, noted a lack of research on cultural representation within the industry.   

“There’s been some great movement, but we still are working toward having parity on all the stages in Canada, not just the small stages,” McIntyre says.

She sees Sarasvati as a launching pad for the changes she’d like to see in Winnipeg and nationally.  

The company also runs workshops for Indigenous youth and newcomers in Winnipeg. A number of those collaborations will be featured in the theatre’s upcoming season.

“Its been amazing, over the last 17 years, to see several of those artists that we’ve kind of trained or given opportunities to going onto larger stages and really having successful careers,” McIntyre said.    

Sarasvati’s 2017/18 launch party is August 4 at Saddlery on Market in the Exchange Distract—it's free to attend and starts at 7 p.m.

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