“One of the most striking and unexpectedly enjoyable productions of the year.”

Montreal Gazette’s Jim Burke

History’s first (known) female playwright Hroswitha of Gandersheim (c. 935 – c. 1002), was a 10th-century German secular canoness, a dramatist and poet who lived and worked in Gandersheim Abbey. The fact that she is so rarely performed prompted the American feminist drama group the Guerrilla Girls to issue the “First Annual Hroswitha Challenge” on their website, announcing that they would bestow the First Annual Hroswitha Award on whichever professional theatre decides “to scrap their plans of producing yet another production of a Greek tragedy.”

Sapientia tells the story about a Christian noblewoman who, when faced with religious persecution from the Roman emperor, allows her three children to be martyred. Protected by their faith, the children instead become immune to physical pain and undergo miraculous bodily transformations! In Mia van Leeuwen’s adaptation, she uses object theatre, a form of puppetry where performers animate found materials (a mirror, a flashlight, an espresso maker, teacups) to represent this ecstatic tale. The result is a grotesquely comic romp into the medieval imaginings of Hroswitha of Gandersheim.


SAPIENTIA: Produced by Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre
Montreal’s WildSide Festival (Jan 2019) + MainLine Theatre (Aug 2018)
Adapted by Joseph Shragge from a literal translation by Lynn Kozak
Directed by Mia van Leeuwen
Featuring: Alison Darcy, Robert Leveroos, Alexandra Petrachuk and Paul Van Dyck Stage Managed by David Epstein, Set Design and Scenography by Robert Leveroos, Lighting and Costume Design by Bruno-Pierre Houle, Sound Design by Joseph Browne and Evan Stepanian, Dramaturged by Anthony Kennedy, and Photography by Patrick Andrew Boivin

Early development of this production was done with Joseph Browne, Alison Darcy, Anthony Kennedy, Robert Leveroos, Joseph Shragge, Mia van Leeuwen and Lar Vi.

Winner of TWO META AWARDS (Montreal English Theatre Award) for
Outstanding Independent Production + Outstanding Contribution To Theatre (Evan Stepanian)

+ Nominations for Outstanding Direction (Mia van Leeuwen), Ensemble, and Sound Design

Photo by Patrick Andrew Boivin
Photo by Patrick Andrew Boivin

“The masterful team behind this production take Hrosvitha’s blunt narrative and work magic to make it compelling. First off, Lynn Kozak’s literal translation and Mia van Leeuwen’s conceptual adaption and direction, represent the best of the best … The words selected, the intent of every scene, and the overall conception of the production is perfectly crafted art… it absolutely must be seen.”

– Rachel Levine, Montreal Rampage

“Piercing imagery, evenly skilled performances, and a whimsical narrative make for a compelling theatrical affair…Scapegoat Carnivale enthrals once again with a striking creation bearing its trademark eccentricity. Miss not one of its three presentations at the Wildside – unequivocally a highlight of the fest.” 

Montreal Theatre Hub

“Scapegoat Carnivale’s production of Sapientia is what all open-minded, passionate theater goers live for: smart, irreverent, imaginative works born out of creative teamwork and contagious passion. This show deserves to play to full houses and tour so that more people can discover humanity’s first known female playwright and this theatre company’s original, rallying projects.”  

– ZoneCulture

SAPIENTIA: Produced by Theatre Outré, October 2018
Lethbridge, Alberta (Club Didi)
Adapted by Joseph Shragge from a literal translation by Lynn Kozak
Directed by Mia van Leeuwen
Featuring: Jordan Payne, Jay Whitehead, Kathy Zaborsky, and Erica Barr
Set design: Deonie Hudson
Lighting design: Lee Burckes
Stage Manger: Stephanie Savage
Production Photography: Jaime Vedres

-with generous funding support from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts

Photo by Jaime Vedres
Photo by Jamie Vedres

SAPIENTIA: Produced by aztec theatre + Theatre Incarnate, 2015
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Featuring: Chris Sabel, Alison Vargo, Brenda McLean and Christopher Sobczak Script Adaptation: Joseph Shragge
Poster Design Ian Mozdzen + Mia van Leeuwen, Production Photos by Leif Norman

-with generous support from the Manitoba Arts Council

Photo by Leif Norman
Photo by Leif Norman

This beautiful and innovative production is gorgeous and deeply provocative. Mia’s staging using object theatre is brilliant, allowing one to take in this complex 10th century text with the kind of distance that transcends time, allowing one to think through the profound implications.”

Praba Pilar, Scholar and Performance Artist

SAPIENTIA: Workshop West Canoe Theatre Festival / workshop presentation
2014 (Edmonton)
Directed by Mia van Leeuwen
Featuring: David Barnett, Nancy McAlear, Brendan Nearey and Kara Chamberlain
Dramaturgy by Stefano Muneroni
Script Adaptation: Joseph Shragge & Mia van Leeuwen

Photo by John Battye
Photo by John Battye

“Sapientia, presented at Workshop West’s Canoe Theatre Festival was one of the most enlightening experiences I’ve had in a theatre as of late. An adaptation of a 10th century dramatic work by Roswitha of Gandersheim, Director and Designer Mia van Leeuwen has used the form of object theatre to cast a different light on a work that is over 1000 years old.”

– Jenna Marynowski, After The House Lights