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The Game

Sarasvati Productions marks this year with the 16th annual FemFest, a festival of life-changing theatre for everyone. The theme of FemFest 2018 is Staging Resistance, and it runs from September 15 to 22.

This year, two Filipino theatre artists, Elena Anciro and Joseph Abetria, join the festival in a production of The Game, written by Shyamala Dakshinamurti and Sowmya Dakshinamurti, and directed by Cherissa Richards. The play is a coproduction between Sarasvati Productions and Manohar Performing Arts of Canada.

The Game depicts six different perspectives on a single violent incident that occurs to Draupadi, the iconic woman at the heart of the Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata. Through a combination of beautiful Indian dance and poetic writing The Game is as relevant today as in centuries past with its story of a woman who resists attempts to silence her.

Elena Anciro in The Game FemFest2018Elena Anciro will be performing in The Game. She is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg’s Department of Theatre & Film. She was recently seen on stage in Breaking Through (Sarasvàti), Alice in Wonderland (Theatre NorthWest), JONNO (Echo Theatre), and Chimerica (Royal MTC / Canadian Stage). Elena is also a member of Red Threads of Peace, a playback theatre troupe that merges artistry, social justice, and community building through improvised storytelling.

“When our director, Cherissa, shared her vision for the show with me, I was intrigued by the chance to explore and create with dancers, something I’ve never had the chance to do before,” said Anciro. “I was excited to work with classical Indian dancers to bring an ancient story into the modern world, especially one that addresses issues that continue to affect women today. It was also very intimidating at first, especially when confronted by the skill, strength, and grace of Manohar’s dancers! Working together to find that common language between actor and dancer has been a fascinating journey. I think the discoveries of where the lines blur will be exciting for audiences. It isn’t very often that you get to see both a traditional and modern interpretation of this story on one stage.”

Joseph AbetriaJoseph Abetria is the design consultant for The Game. He is a Filipino theatre designer currently based in the North End of Winnipeg. A graduate of the University of Winnipeg’s Theatre Honours program, his recent design highlights include: Two Indians and The Seduction Theory (Sarasvàti Productions); Last Train to Nibroc (RMTC); Richard III (SIR); Iceland (TPM); Concord Floral, Vinegar Tom, and The Cassilis Engagement (UofW). He has also worked as an assistant designer for various productions such as Billy Elliot (RMTC), Romeo & Juliet, and the Rocky Horror Show (Stratford Festival). At times, Abetria also works as a scenic artist with companies like Theatre by the River, and KOBA entertainment.

“For me, what’s exciting about working on The Game is learning about these ancient characters from the Mahabharata, and delving deeper into their psyche,” said Abetria. “With the help of our director Cherissa Richards and the cast, we identified our own modern counterparts of these characters in 2018. Who is a nobleman in our present world? Do I know Draupadi in my life? Answering these questions guided me in designing the actors’ costumes for the show.”

“Audiences will find that there is an intriguing narrative in our retelling of this miracle in the Mahabharata. We are taking this piece of Indian epic mythos, and giving the characters new breath; a chance to explain themselves after centuries of just accepting their fate. There is energy in traditional Indian dance that electrifies the air; it amplifies the emotions of each scene. It’s a very passionate way of retelling this story,” said Abetria.

Also at Femfest 2018, Sarasvati Productions will also hold a reading of a new work in progress, Home 2.0, which will be touring high schools in the fall. The work features Filipino performers Denisse Samaniego, Bennette Villones and Joanne Roberts.

Source: Hope McIntyre, Artistic Director, Sarasvati Productions