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Jewish performers at the Fringe Festival

Introduction: As has been our custom over the years, we present previews of various Fringe shows that feature Jewish performers (or writers) – some from Winnipeg, some from other cities. This year’s Fringe Festival begins July 19 and runs through July 30. (We apologize if we may have missed someone – but if we have, it’s not too late to contact us and we’ll get a blurb up for you on our website.)

Allie Perlov

A One Human Being, Potentially Comedic Performance of….
LES MIS
A parody musical written & performed by Alli Perlov
Alli Perlov has been a theatre kid her entire life. Her experiences include training at Manitoba Theatre for Young People, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Winnipeg, and a brief career in film and television in her teens.

For the past 12 years, Perlov has been a performing arts teacher in Winnipeg, teaching courses in musical theatre, improv and drama to students from Grades 6 to 12. In an effort to continue practicing what she teaches, Alli Perlov has mounted two one-person Fringe plays starting in 2017 and brings her third to this year’s festival with her show
Venue # 8: The Rachel Browne Theatre
“Perlov’s tongue-in-cheek parody is also steeped in a palpable sweetness that would melt even the most hardened revolutionary’s heart – 4 ½ Stars” Winnipeg Free Press, 2018
Some teachers take the summer off to recharge, while others mount a one-person Fringe festival show. In a revamped version of her successful 2018 sell out production “A One Human Being Potentially Comedic Performance of Les Miserables”, local performing arts teacher Alli Perlov aims to leave the audience in stitches as she performs 30 characters from the iconic musical based off the Victor Hugo novel.
In a musical parody full of charm and can-do spirit, Perlov tackles the task of making “try-hard” a compliment. Condensing the score to 52 minutes, and weaved with narrative, critiques and silly puns, everyone in the theatre is guaranteed a good time and a load of laughs.

Ira Cooper

Everything is Super Wow: Lots of Jewish
content!! created by Ira Cooper,
son of Winnipeger Gayle Myers
Come see a foot-fuelled, slapstick tragedy about bikepacking, dreaming big and giving up in your 30s. Follow Super Wow along a kinetic journey filled with new music, peppy puppets and awkwardly captivating dance breaks. Nominated for Outstanding Clown Show (Montreal) “I was entranced by Ira’s performance” – Sarah Deshaies, CKUT Radio “A great clown should be funny, courageous, vulnerable, and have a voice that needs to be heard. Super Wow formerly Mr. Coffeehead is all of that and more.“ – Bob Frazer
Spec Theatre
Venue #20 – The Studio at Théâtre Cercle Molière St Boniface

Keir Cutler

Teaching Shakespeare
Since debuting at the 1999 Montreal Fringe Festival, Teaching Shakespeare has had over 150 performances across Canada, and two theatrical runs in New York City.
This “formidably delightful” (Off-Off Broadway Review) parody of a college Shakespeare class and portrait of a frustrated actor turned frustrated professor last seen in Winnipeg in 2014, is returning to the 2023 Winnipeg Fringe Festival. However, the multiple award-winning monologue now has new material as the inept teacher has aged and is a senior citizen. Dr. Keir is still desperate to achieve his professional goals but now time is definitely running out!
Teaching Shakespeare received the “Overall Excellence Award – Solo” at the New York Fringe Festival in 2000, heldover at the Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton fringe festivals, selected for Centaur Theatre’s Wildside Festival, Victoria’s Uno Festival, London, Ontario’s Oh Solo Mio Festival, selected “Best in Fest” at the Orlando Fringe Festival, and televised nationally in Canada on BRAVO!
“I remember Teaching Shakespeare as one of the most enjoyable Fringe productions of the last decade. Actor/academic Keir Cutler gave us Dr. Keir, a self-styled Shakespeare expert giving a university class. It was the class from hell. Keir pulled off the amazing feat of feeding you some fascinating minutiae about Shakespeare while leaving you laughing at the awesome ineptitude of the teacher.” – Colin MacLean, Edmonton Sun.
Montrealer Keir Cutler has been called “a masterful entertainer,” (Winnipeg Free Press) “a marvel to watch,” (Toronto Sun) and “a phenomenal performer!” (winnipegonstage.com). Venue #10 -Planetarium Auditorium 190 Rupert Ave. – (theatre on lower level).

Melanie Gill in “The American Songbook”

Melanie Gall – in 3 separate shows!
1- The American Songbook Experience
 Move over, Frank Sinatra! Melanie Gall presents the story of the American Songbook – from the songwriters of Tin Pan Alley to the stages of Broadway and the Hollywood musicals of the 1930s and 1940s – with hits by George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and other superstars of popular song. Featuring a dozen hits, including On the Sunny Side of the Street, I’m in the Mood for Love, Moon River and Stardust.Melanie Gall is the award-winning performer of Fringe sellout hits Ingenue, Piaf and Brel (5 STARS – Winnipeg Free Press) and Toast to Prohibition (5 STARS – Edmonton Journal). Her historic music shows have been performed in over 30 countries, as well as off-Broadway in New York and at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
 
2- Ingenue
 Melanie Gall’s award-winning musical is back! Chosen as one of the top Fringe shows worldwide and mounted off-Broadway at SoHo Playhouse in 2019. Judy is an icon, loved as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. But in the 1930s, Deanna, “Winnipeg’s Sweetheart”, was the bigger star. While Judy struggled for success, Deanna became the idol of millions. Ingénue tells the true tale of the lifelong friendship – and rivalry – of these teen idols of Old Hollywood. “Gall is astonishing” – Metro Arts, 5 STARS Adelaide Advertiser, 4.5 STARS Winnipeg Free Press
 
3- Opera Mouse
 Tilly Mouse lives under an opera house and she just loves to sing! But whenever anybody sees her, they scream and run away. With determination, imagination and help from her friends, Tilly proves that even a mouse can be a star! Featuring songs and arias from several operas, including Gianni Schicchi, Carmen and The Magic Flute. Opera Mouse has been performed in venues all around the world, ranging from a theatre in Canada and an orphanage in Morocco to a school in Sudan and a shopping mall in Algeria. “Best kids show” – CBC Manitoba

Adam Schwartz
Adam writes: “I have 2 shows this year. Neurohilarity which features the 5 funniest neurodivergent comedians in Winnipeg. Carole Cunningham, (The Debaters) Scott Koropas,(Yuk Yuks) Danielle Kayhara, (Winnipeg Comedy Fest) Quinn and Kane Greene (Winnipeg comedy fest) and Adam Schwartz with guest appearances by Jewish comedians Dan Goldberg and Willlw Rosenberg.

“I also have my solo show How I Met My First Neurodivergent Friend. A storytelling show about how growing up Adam kept his distance from people who were different because he thought it would make it harder to fit in. One day Adam woke up 36-years-old alone and lonely so he created his own community (Neurohilarity). “

OBSESSION: The Elizabeth Smart Musical
Robbi Goltsman-Ferris is the writer/producer of a show premiering at the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival this year. Called “OBSESSION: The Elizabeth Smart Musical,” this moving production reveals the tragedies and triumphs of a female writer ahead of her time. It features Phil Corrin as the musical director, and Kelly Robinson and Kyra Krassnigg as two members of a remarkably talented and seasoned cast of six, including professional performers Brittany Hunter and Reid McTavish and director/choreographer Laura Kolisnyk.
The show features eight performances at Venue 4, the Center Culturel Franco-Manitobain (CCFM) on 340 Provencher Blvd, which offers FREE PARKING!!

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Ida and the late Saul Alpern have donated 2 ambulances and a scooter to Magen David Adom in past 4 years

Saul z"l and Ida Alpern

By BERNIE BELLAN Saul Alpern passed away in 2022, but before he died he and his wife Ida had decided to make Magen David Adom a major recipient of their generosity.

As Myron Love noted in an October 2020 article the Alperns had been contributing small amounts to the Canadian Magen David Adom for some time, but it was in that year they decided to donate $160,000 for the purchase of a Mobile Intensive Care Unit for Israel’s Magen David Adom.

As Myron wrote in that 2020 article, an MICUA (which is larger than an ambulance, is staffed by paramedics, and responds only to the most medically serious cases) was donated “to the people of Israel in memory of Saul Alpern’s parents and siblings who perished in the Holocaust.

“It is an expression of my love for my family and my love of Israel,” Saul Alpern said at the time.

In early 2022 the Alperns donated yet another $170,000 for the purchase of a second MICU for Magen David Adom.

The scooter recently donated by Ida Alpern in memory of her late husband and parents/plaque imprinted on the front of the scooter carrier box

Saul Alpern passed away in November 2022, but Ida Alpern has now continued the legacy of giving to Canadian Magen David Adom that she and Saul had begun several years before. Just recently Ida contributed $39,000 toward the purchase of an emergency medical scooter. According to the CMDA website, “the scooter, which is driven by a paramedic, can get through traffic faster than the Standard Ambulance or MICU and provide pre-hospital care. It contains life-saving equipment, including a defibrillator, an oxygen tank, and other essential medical equipment.”

I asked Ida whether she wanted to say anything about the motivation for her and her late husband’s support for CMDA. She wrote, “Having survived the Holocaust, and being a Zionist, Saul felt that supporting Israel was of the utmost importance.”

On May 7, CMDA will be honouring Ida and Saul z”l Alpern at a dinner and show at the Centro Caboto Centre. Another highlight that evening will be the announcement of the purchase of an ambulance for CMDA by another Winnipegger, Ruth Ann Borenstein. That ambulance will be in honour of the late Yoram East (a.k.a. Yoram Hamizrachi), who was a well-known figure both in Israel and here in Winnipeg.

For more information about the May 7 event or to purchase tickets phone 587-435-5808 or email sfraiman@cmdai.org

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Local News

Simkin Centre looking for volunteers

A scene from last year's Simkin Stroll

We received the following email from Heather Blackman, Simkin Centre Director of Volunteers & Resident Experience:

Happy Spring Everyone! Hope you all are well. We have a number of upcoming volunteer opportunities that I wanted to share with you. Please take a look at what we have listed here and let me know if you are available for any of the following. I can be reached at heather.blackman@simkincentre.ca or 204-589-9008.
Save the date! The Simkin Stroll is on June 25th this year and we need tons of volunteers to assist. This is our annual fundraiser and there is something for everyone to help with from walking with Residents in the Stroll to manning booths and tables, event set up and take down and much more. Volunteers will be needed from 3 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on this day. Come and help for the full event or for any period within that timeframe that works for you.
Resident Store – This tuck shop style cart will be up for business shortly. Residents will be assisting to stock and run the store for 2 hours 2- 3 times per week in the afternoons. Volunteer support is needed to assist residents with restocking items and monetary transactions.
Passover Volunteers
Volunteers are needed to assist with plating Seder plates for Residents (date to be determined for plating)
Volunteers are needed to assist Residents to and from Passover Services and Come and Go Teas.
Times volunteers are needed for services/teas:
April 22cnd – First Seder 1:30-3:30 p.m.
April 23rd – Passover Service Day 1 – 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
April 23rd – Second Seder – 1:30-3:30 p.m.
April 24th – Passover Service – Day 2 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
April 29th – Passover Service – 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
April 29th- Passover Tea – 1:30-3:30 p.m.
April 30th – Passover Service – 9:30 -11:30 a.m.
April 30th – Passover Tea – 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Admin/Paperwork Volunteers – Volunteers are needed to assist with filing and other administrative duties. A monthly volunteering job is also available to input information on programming into Recreation activity calendars. Support would be provided for this.
Adult Day Program – A volunteer is needed to assist with the Mondays Adult Day Program Group. A regular ongoing weekly commitment on Mondays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Assist with Recreation programming and lunch supervision for our Adult Day Program participants that come in from the community for the day.
Biking Volunteers – Take our residents out for a spin on one of our specialty mobility bicycles. Training is provided and volunteers will be needed throughout the Spring, Summer and early Fall.

With summer coming there is also opportunity to assist with outings and other outdoor programming! Please let me know if you are interested!

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Local News

From Argentina to Winnipeg – creating opportunities in the IT sector for marginalized groups

By BERNIE BELLAN The following article about Pablo Listingart borrows heavily from articles written by Rebeca Kuropatwa in 2019 and 2021 for The Jewish Post & News. It is also based on a recent phone interview I conducted with Pablo, as well as material we received from a publicist.
Back in 2012, husband and wife, Pablo Listingart and Solange Flomin began seriously thinking about leaving Argentina.
This, explained Listingart, was “because of the political situation and other aspects [that] were degrading. We also wanted to have the experience of living in another country.”
So, the couple began traveling to explore other countries. They went to the U.S., but did not feel it was a good fit. Then, they went to several countries in Europe, but with a similar result.
Next up was Canada. “My wife had a cousin living in Vancouver and she spoke really highly about Canada,” said Listingart. “We started doing our research and sent emails to several Jewish communities. A couple answered, but communication with Winnipeg was more responsive.”
In October 2013 Listingart visited Winnipeg (while Flomin was pregnant with their first child). “After only two days, I fell in love with the city, the brown of the trees, how quiet it was,” said Listingart. “So, I called Sol and told her that this was the place.”
When Listingart returned to Argentina, he and Flomin started working on their application. The process took 10 months, as their son was born in the middle of the process.
The family made their move to Winnipeg in early March 2015.
Flomin and Listingart feel at home in Winnipeg. “We feel more Canadian than Argentinean, with cultures, values, and everything,” said Listingart. “That is the reason we are here, actually. We did not come for economic reasons. We didn’t feel that comfortable in terms of values and principles back there. Once I came here, I fell in love with the Canadian culture and values.”

Listingart had started up a charity in Argentina in 2011 that taught participants how to do software development. In Winnipeg, Flomin urged him to create the same kind of start up.
Today, Listingart’s charities, called Comunidad IT & ComIT, have operations in Latin America and Canada.
As an immigrant himself, Pablo explains that he started ComIT after immigrating from Argentina to Manitoba and seeing a gap in Canada’s education system. He noticed many individuals working survival jobs to help support their families, unable to get the training they wanted to better their positions.

In response, he developed a market-driven curriculum that he initially delivered to students by covering expenses himself. In 2016, Pablo Listingart became the founder and executive director of ComIT, a Canadian non-profit organization that offers free technology and professional skills training to unemployed and underemployed Canadians, with a focus on Indigenous, immigrants, visible minorities, and underserved communities. The charity aims to develop a community that links people struggling to overcome employment barriers with companies looking for skilled workers.
Women take up the majority of his enrolment. Many of them feel they can’t enter into a traditional program to enhance their educational skills due to barriers like limited access to funding, training locations, professional requirements, also family obligations, and lack of childcare. ComIT’s curriculum is designed to appeal to people who fall into that category by being free of charge, available online, and taught for only parts of the day.

Listingart and Flomin began running the charity together around raising their two kids.
“I had worked for several companies, like Microsoft, IBM, and others,” said Listingart. “Back in 2011, I thought about giving back to the community and society, and so I decided to start this charity. Those years back in Argentina were kind of busy and, with all the political issues over there, we decided to migrate here to Winnipeg.”
With the perpetually expanding operation of their growing charity, Listingart, as the charity’s executive director, was kept busy, and for the first few years of operating ComIT he even found time to build mobile applications and websites, but these days Listingart says that running ComIT takes up his full time.

ComIT in Canada began by running pilot programs in Winnipeg and in Kitchener-Waterloo. In Winnipeg, Listingart ran the classes with the support of ICTAM (now TechMB), and, in Kitchener-Waterloo, two of the main Canadian sponsors were Communitech and Google.
“That went really well, in terms of people getting jobs, so I kept doing it,” said Listingart. ComIT jumped from offering two courses to 22 courses per year – covering all the Canadian territory.
By 2023 Comunidad IT and ComIT had helped 4500 people find jobs (1200 in Canada). “Unfortunately,” Listingart explained, “people drop out for different reasons through the process, so we are not able to help everyone who joins the courses.” During our phone interview Listingart said that his charities have now trained over 6,500 students altogether.
“About 70 percent get jobs within six months of the training,” said Listingart. “We follow up with them, help them with their resumés…We have a free platform companies can access and see the resumés.”
Training is conducted in classrooms and online. “The impact is always bigger in person”, said Listingart. “We started developing content to be delivered online prior to the pandemic, mostly for Latin America, as a way to reach people we couldn’t physically reach, not having the funds to go to 15 countries, and then during the pandemic we developed even more content to continue running our training.”
While Listingart would love to be able to operate everywhere around the world, financially, that is not yet viable, but he was able to expand what he offers to all of Latin America and across Canada.

Listingart is no longer teaching in the program, due to a lack of time, though he does visit the classes when he is able. While only two years ago, ComIT was training 300 people a year in its courses in Canada, it has now grown to the point where 600 people a year are taking courses from ComIT.
As Listingart told me, “We actually doubled the number of students we had when I talked to Rebecca (in 2021). What happened, he explained, was “we were in the middle of the pandemic and we moved all the training online due to COVID. We are still running courses online, and that has allowed us to reach out to more people.”
“So nowadays we have students from Prince Edward Island to the Yukon,” Listingart added.
I asked Listingart where the funding for ComIT comes from?
He answered that most of it comes from the private sector, but a portion comes from a federal government agency known as PrairiesCan.
So, how exactly does ComIT conduct classes? I wondered.
Training is conducted by instructors in classrooms or online, where they reach their students via Zoom.
At ComIT, all training is provided free of charge. Trainees can hold a full-time job, while training in the evenings or mornings for only a couple of hours a day for three months.
While right now ComIT is conducting eight different classes, Listingart explained,\ – “with eight different instructors,” because “we run different topics along the year, it’s usually between 12 to 15 people that get involved in teaching courses.”
And what do students learn in those courses?
The program consists of three months of intensive instruction in various fields related to software programming.
“Most of the people that we train go on to be programmers,” Listingart said, adding that the majority of our graduates become software developers or website designers,” adding that “some are working in cybersecurity or other hardware related fields.”
The minimum age to register for a ComIT program is only 18 and there is no prerequisite level of education required.
While a good many of ComIT students are immigrants who may lack the kind of English language skills necessary to be hired by many employers, ComIT also has many Indigenous students as well as non-indigenous Canadians who are struggling.
Still, as Listingart says, students in the program have to be able to communicate. They “don’t need perfect English,” he adds, “they don’t even need a mid-level English,” but they do need “some basic communication skills.”
But it’s not simply a matter of someone applying to take ComIT courses and being automatically accepted, Listingart explained.
“We ask them (prospective students) a lot of questions,” he said. “We ask them what their goals are, like, if they are pursuing a career in IT or if they are interested in that… many things to gauge their interest. Those conversations help us understand whether these people can communicate with others.”
When it comes to finding jobs for graduates of the ComIT program, Listingart says that he and other members of his team meet with local employers who are looking for IT talent and discuss their exact needs within the industry.”
“We train them in what companies need right now,” said Listingart. “So, let’s say I go to Saskatoon and I talk to 10 or 15 companies over there…about 70 percent get jobs within six months of the training,” he noted. “We follow up with them, help them with their resumés…We have a free platform companies can access and see the resumés.”
Skip the Dishes, for instance, was on the fence for a very short time. They hired five out of seven ComIT trainees almost on the spot after they were interviewed – and soon after, the company became one of the charity’s local sponsors. To date, Skip the Dishes has hired 55 ComIT-trained students.
“My goal, so to speak…is to give opportunity to people who can’t afford other types of training and give them a first chance,” said Listingart. “We mention this at the beginning of every course. They only have one chance with us. We don’t give second chances. If they drop out for any reason, regret it, and want to come back, they can’t. I have hundreds of people on the waiting list to take courses. For me, this is a way to teach the value of work and, while doing it, you have the chance to work a job that pays well, that you can grow and learn…And, it’s not just for nerds, it’s creative work.
“My goal also has been to make the biggest impact that I can and …I’m happy with the results.”
If you are an employer interested in finding out more about ComIT or you know someone who might benefit by taking the program, visit

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