Through their eyes: Winnipeg's Sarasvati theatre explores the stories of newcomer women

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Through their eyes: Winnipeg's Sarasvati theatre explores the stories of newcomer women

What is it like to land in Winnipeg and have to start a new life in a new community? The Sarasvati Productions Transformative Theatre is bringing their audience into the lives of newcomer women starting over in Canada.

"If you can understand what they've been through than there is greater empathy and a greater opportunity for us all to work together to make things better," said artistic director Hope McIntyre on CBC's Weekend Morning Show.

For the theatre's International Women's Week program playwrights from across the country submitted stories of new beginnings and moments of change, McIntyre said. Members of the theatre also met with newcomer women in the city who were eager to share their stories, she said.

"Some women just wanted to be interviewed. We sat down and what I thought would be a 20-minute conversation turned into two hours or longer," McIntyre said.

"Then in some instances we went into a group of like 30 women and did theatre workshops. Although language was a barrier, they would get up on their feet and act out things. It was just so full of life and humour and it was wonderful."

Nalini Reddy will be performing a monologue called Diaspora by Angie St. Mars and Alka Kumar. In the monologue, Reddy plays a woman from India who is faced with the difficulty of defining "home."

"It takes her some time to feel like Canada is home and to really make the transition to Canada," Reddy said.

It's a part that hit close to home, she added. Her family is of Indian descent but through South Africa, she said. Her parents lived in a few different countries before finally bringing a one-year-old Reddy to Canada.

"When we came in the early '70s there were far fewer people like me. So, that really formed a lot of who I was and made me really aware the difference between my family and other families," she said.

Reddy said she has been engaged in issues related to equality and race for a long time, but in the current climate "these things have become incredibly important again."

"I thought we had come so much further and we had done much work over the decades and we had come to a really good place — not to say that there wasn't a lot more to do still — but now things have changed so dramatically that these kinds of efforts have become that much more important again," she said.

Through the monologues, McIntyre said they are able to take people out of the contention of the current climate and place them in the lives of these women just trying to build a home.

For more information visit the theatre's website.