They are our friends, our role models and rivals. They define who we are, perhaps more than our parents. We grow up together. They get inside our heads.
What happens when we can’t get them out …?
Rachel runs away with her daughter, arriving unexpectedly at her childhood home. Jade spends more nights in the college art studio than she does in her own bedroom. The sudden reappearance of Josh’s mother forces him to take a hard look at his life. Now, all three of them must confront the truth about their childhood, as its impact on their adult lives is revealed.
Told with honesty – and humour – Broken Branches reveals secrets, lies, family dynamics … and the resilience to survive. Produced by CreateTruth Productions in Association with Workman Arts, the award-winning multi-disciplinary arts and mental health organization, Broken Branches starts a long-overdue conversation, shedding light on an important yet silent issue: sibling abuse.
By making the invisible visible, their stories will forever change the way we see sibling relationships.
Brothers. Sisters. Survival.
From Philip McKee, Director
“Broken Branches is a very important and unique project. It is a remarkable showcase of human suffering and perseverance. The form of trauma it explores is almost completely hidden from public view. The staging of the aftermath of sibling abuse is therefore a radical and subversive act.”
Risa Handler - MA, RP, CCC, Counsellor
David McClyment - College Professor
Karla Minello, B.B.A., M.A.
Cara Spooner - Public Partnerships and Programming Manager, Workman Arts
F.S. - Senior Toronto Theatre Administrator
CreateArt . CreateAwareness
“We all know that siblings can be brutal to one another. But we ignore and accept the violence and abuse of children when it’s from a sibling. We don’t call it what it is – abuse. We need to name it and talk about it, or it will never change.”
Broken Branches was conceived from playwright Lorene Stanwick’s desire to use theatre to create awareness of the issue of sibling abuse. Her personal history was the impetus; lack of research and public discourse, the driver. The goal: to spark recognition, provide insight, start conversations.
With a background in acting, teaching, and counselling, including training in Drama in Education, it was clear that telling stories in that magical space we call the theatre was the most powerful way she could raise awareness. “Once I understood that sibling abuse was a key part of my personal struggle, and that ignorance and silence were the real issues, I had to write this play.”
Broken Branches is produced by CreateTruth Productions In Association With Workman Arts.
Workman Arts is a multidisciplinary arts organization that promotes a greater understanding of mental health and addiction issues through creation and presentation. Workman Arts supports artists living with mental health and addiction issues through peer-to-peer arts education, public presentations and partnerships with the broader arts community.
Kids will be kids. All brothers and sisters fight; that’s how they work things out. Isn’t it just normal sibling rivalry?
We’ve all heard those words to justify conflict and fighting between siblings, even when the fighting seems constant and harmful. Unless a child is being hurt by an adult, or by a bully in the playground, the locker room, or online, we look the other way.
But sometimes the bully lives in the same house, shares a bedroom, is in charge of their younger siblings.
Nearly everyone has a story, their own or that of someone they know, about the impact of sibling abuse. Broken Branches is a play that brings these stories out of the shadows and into the spotlight and asks, “What happens when sibling conflict crosses a line into something more than rivalry – into something cruel, even dangerous?”
Quick Facts on Sibling Abuse:
- Sibling abuse is common in families across all racial, cultural, and socio-economic lines
- Up to 75% of family violence is between siblings
- 53% of children aged 3 to 17 have committed acts of severe violence towards a sibling
- Children are at least 5 times more likely to be sexually abused by a sibling than an adult family member
- By the time they are eighteen, children abused by a sibling are twice as likely to have depression, anxiety, and self-harm; they’ve lived a confused entanglement of love, fear, shame, and self-blame. And they are held captive since the abusers are usually older, in charge, with 24-hour access to their sibling.
Survivors will likely struggle throughout their lives with mental health and addiction issues, relationship difficulties and more, including suicide and ongoing abuse, as victim, perpetrator or both. Often, they are unaware their struggles are rooted in abuse by a brother or sister because our society accepts, ignores and/or silences violence, psychological and sexual abuse by siblings. Normalizing it as sibling ‘rivalry’ effectively condones it.
Hear playwright Lorene Stanwick, along with two other survivors of sibling abuse, in discussion with Anna Maria Tremonti.
CBC Radio’s The Current invited Lorene, Diana, and Roger to join host Anna Maria Tremonti in a conversation; an earlier segment on sibling bullying research received overwhelming response – now they wanted stories.
We are hearing stories of abuse from many fronts these days, but sibling abuse remains relatively silent. Lorene received emails from people across the country who had heard the CBC interview. It touched a chord.
Stories have impact. They engage and teach, provoke and transform.
It’s time to tell stories about sibling abuse.
You’ve struck a huge chord with me.
CBC Listener, Ontario
Your story made her look more closely
JS, Toronto ON
Broken Branches has been pivotal
AG, Teacher, Artist
Toronto needs more playwrights with this courage
DM, College Professor
These stories need to be heard
Diana, CBC's The Current Panelist
Lorene’s play shines a bright light on the dark past
Roger, CBC's The Current Panelist
*Rebecca Applebaum’s (Diane) recent acting credits include Odd Squad (TVO/PBS), Save Me (CBC), Hot Cuts (Birdtown & Swanville), The Expanse (Syfy), The Mess (Davies & Phokeev), and Bad Jews (Koffler Centre of the Arts). Rebecca is also an emerging director: She directed the premiere of the stage play Reality Theatre (SummerWorks), excerpts of which were adapted to create the screenplay for the short film Spooning. As her directorial debut film, Spooning premiered this year at Cinequest in Redwood City & San Jose, California, and has also screened at the Canadian Film Fest (Winner: Best Actor in a Short) and Breakthroughs Film Festival in Toronto. Rebecca also sometimes writes plays (Complex, Don’t Look) and makes music.
Mark Correia (Josh): Theatre: Jordan Tannahill’s Late Company (2013); Jordan Tannahill’s Concord Floral (2012); Hannah Moscovitch’s The Children’s Republic (Tarragon Theatre, 2011 – nominated for Best Supporting Actor, MyTheatre Award); Winner of SEARS Drama Award for Best Actor. TV: Produced and starred in sketch series for CBC Comedy (2018). Film: Ashram 69 (2016); The Trick with the Gun (2016).A graduate of Canada’s prestigious National Theatre School, Mark is also a world-renowned comedian and magician whose performances have taken him around the globe. He currently resides in New York City where he frequently headlines the illustrious “Caroline’s on Broadway” as well as off-Broadway theatres and comedy clubs. He has been featured on every major Canadian broadcasting network, and has gained over ½ million views on YouTube and over 50 million on Facebook. Mark raised over $15,000 with Escaping Parkinson’s, a stunt supported by The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. After two weeks strapped inside a straitjacket, he escaped on live television, garnering international attention, setting a world record, and delivering a TEDx talk about the experience. He is thrilled to return to Toronto to revive the role of Josh, having played him in development.
Janel Rae Filipiak (Jade) is incredibly honoured to be a part of the beautiful story of Broken Branches. She has recently graduated from the Randolph College for Performing Arts and has just finished her school’s run of City of Angels, playing the roles of Gabby and Bobbi. When not on stage, Janel has been focusing her time in writing and composing her own music while expanding her skills in dance, acting and singing. She is looking forward to sharing her love for story telling with you and hopes you enjoy this captivating and truly powerful piece!
*Sarah Kitz (Rachel) is an actor, director, creator, and coach. She is a graduate of the Birmingham Conservatory at Stratford, a past Stratford company member, and has acted across Canada. She has participated in directing programs at Stratford Festival, Shaw Festival, and is a member of Directors Lab North in participation with Lincoln Centre. She has worked at Luminato Festival, Shakespeare In The Ruins, Tarragon, Passe Muraille, Crow’s Theatre, Canadian Stage, Next Stage Festival, SummerWorks, Pandemic Theatre, GCTC, The Canadian Music Theatre Project, Shakespeare in the Ruff and across Canada. Sarah has been extensively involved with the AMY Project, which supports the creative trajectories of young women and non-binary youth in Toronto through arts mentorship. In 2017, Sarah was awarded Crow’s Theatre’s RBC Emerging Director Prize. Most recently she has been onstage in the premieres of Liza Balkan’s Out The Window at Luminato and Darrah Teitel’s Behaviour, at GCTC. Upcoming, she directs Diane Flacks’ Unholy.
*Anastasia Kokolakis (Evie) has performed for various theatre companies across Ontario. Some selected credits include Snap, The Laundry (both for Toronto Fringe), Dreamland (Canadian Stage Company and National Arts Centre), Wait Until Dark (Sunshine Festival Theatre Company), Marat Sade (Umbrella Collective – Dora Nominated Production), Mirth (Skippy’s Rangers), Queens and the Great Outdoors (Buddies in Bad Times). Television credits include Reign and Hemlock Grove. Anastasia won a best actress award at the Go Independent Film Festival in Washington, DC and was nominated for a best actress award at the Milan International Film Festival for her role in the short film Mismatch and Lighter.
*Tracey Hoyt (Josh’s Mom, voice-over): Selected Theatre: Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie (The Howland Company), the first 3 Canadian productions of The Drowsy Chaperone (Best Man Productions) and the premiere of Priscila Uppal’s What Linda Said. Tracey recently presented her fully improvised solo show Soul Prints as part of Convergence Theatre’s Catapult Festival. On-camera work includes the feature films Don’t Talk To Irene, Guidance & Len And Company. A voice actor for most of her career, she has worked in radio drama, film, commercials, animated series, video games and Audiobooks. Broken Branches will be her first voice work in a stage production. Tracey has taught Improvisation and voice-over extensively and directs voice demo reels for her talented acting peers. She recently won the Cayle Chernin Award for Theatre Development for her play Hospital Hotel. www.traceyhoyt.com
Chloe Paul (voice-over) is originally from New Brunswick, but moved to Toronto to pursue her dreams of becoming a performer! She is a recent graduate from the Randolph College of the Performing arts. She’s so happy to be able to contribute to this wonderful play!
Lorene Stanwick (playwright) is also a counsellor, actor, educator – and now, theatre producer and assistant director. A member, instructor, and the 2017-18 Theatre Artist-in-Residence of Workman Arts, Lorene has a B.A. in Drama-in-Education, a B.Ed. in English and Drama, and an M.Ed. in Counselling Psychology. Acting, ongoing training, developing drama programs are her roots; counselling training and experience, and continued trauma research offer insight and understanding. Together, they provide a unique perspective into the transformative potential of theatre and storytelling.
Philip McKee (director) is a director, writer, producer and educator based in Toronto. He collaborates with other artists to create original theatre and film that is subversive, intimate and vital. Subjects include war; kinship; aging; mental illness; capitalism and desire; privilege; and structures of inequality. His theatre and creation practice has focused on creating radical adaptations of classic texts, which re-interpret the often-unexamined power dynamics in the source material.
Work in the theatre includes: LEAR: A Retrospective (World Stage, Harbourfront Centre); Much Ado About Nothing (NTSC); The Glass Menagerie (Howland Company); Bloody Family/Oresteia (The Theatre Centre); LEAR (World Stage, Harbourfront Centre/ The Magnetic North Festival).
Philip is currently developing an original musical, The Pryce Academy, which he co-wrote with writer/actor Mazin Elsadig.
Film work includes: Torching the Dusties, adapted from the story by Margaret Atwood, starring Eric Peterson and Clare Coulter; and Piano Lessons, adapted from a story by Alice Munro, which premiered at the Rendezvous with Madness Festival, at Workman Arts.
Philip is a graduate of The Directing Program at The National Theatre School of Canada. He teaches at Workman Arts, as well as The National Theatre School of Canada, The Randolph Academy, Brock University, and UofT. Artistic residencies include the Urjo Kareda Grant for Emerging Artists at Tarragon Theatre, the RBC Emerging Artist: Director Development Residency at Canadian Stage.
Philip has also trained in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy at The Toronto Psychoanalytic Society.
*Sam Hale (stage manager): Little Shop of Horrors (Stratford Festival); Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Picture This, Parfumerie, Riverboat (Soulpepper); The Wolves, Lemons…, 52 Pick-Up, The Glass Menagerie (The Howland Company); Jerusalem, Mr. Burns (Outside the March); Disgraced (Mirvish/Citadel/Hope & Hell); The Realistic Joneses, An Enemy of the People (Tarragon); Body Politic (Buddies in Bad Times/lemonTree Creations); Hedda Gabler (Necessary Angel/Canadian Stage); Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Talk Is Free); Hilda’s Yard, Here On The Flight Path (Foster Festival); The 39 Steps (3P Productions); My Fair Lady (Capitol Theatre); Lear: A Retrospective (World Stage); Fall For Dance North (Sony Centre). Sam has also worked for dance: made in canada, Hot Docs, TIFF and Ryerson University. Upcoming: Into the Woods (Talk Is Free).
Gloria Mok (production manager and technical director) is a playwright, production manager, video designer, and arts educator. As a daughter of first-generation Chinese immigrants, contemporary works that transcend real or imagined barriers excite her. She is a founding member of Silk Bath Collective, the creators behind the 2016 Toronto Fringe hit, Silk Bath,and its sequel, Yellow Rabbit. She has worked with numerous Toronto-based arts organizations including fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre, Native Earth Performing Arts, Theatre Gargantua, Roseneath Theatre, Tarragon Theatre, and SummerWorks Performance Festival. She is a graduate of The National Theatre School’s Production Design and Technical Arts program.
Jareth Li (lighting and set designer) is a stage designer based in Toronto. Select lighting design credits include: Ring of Fire (Citadel Theatre); The Wolves (The Howland Company & Crows), Punk Rock, Lemons… (The Howland Company); Iphigenia and The Furies (Saga Collectif, Dora Award Nomination); Yellow Rabbit (Silk Bath Collective); Chautauqua (Pearle Harbour); Portia’s Julius Caesar (Shakespeare In The Ruff); Black Boys (Saga Collectif & Buddies In Bad Times) Prairie Nurse (Factory Theatre & Thousand Islands Playhouse); Risky Phil (YPT); Two Birds One Stone (Two Birds Collective); Dusk Dances (Withrow Park, 2015-2018); A Congruence of Arrivals (BoucharDanse).
Jareth is a member of the Associated Designers of Canada, and is a stagecraft instructor at York University. He is also a member of The Howland Company. He has also worked as an assistant designer at the Stratford Festival (six seasons), and the Canadian Opera Company (four seasons). He has toured work across Canada and the United States.
Upcoming projects this season include Copy That, and The Three Women of Swatow (Tarragon Theatre), Casimir and Caroline (The Howland Company), and Hilot Means Healer (Cahoots Theatre).
Online @ Jareth.Li
Lyon Smith (sound designer): Select Sound Design: Hamlet, All’s Well That Ends Well, Taming of the Shrew and Liv Stein (Canadian Stage); Morro and Jasp 9 to 5 (Factory Theatre); Morro and Jasp in Stupefaction (Kabin and U.N.I.T. Productions); The Last Donnelly Standing, If Truth Be Told and In the Wake of Wettlaufer (Blyth Festival); Elle (Theatre Passe Muraille); Venus Daughter (Obsidian Theatre); Beaver (Storefront Theatre); the Millennial Malcontent (Tarragon); A City (Necessary Angel); Risky Phil (YPT); The Canadian (Thousand Islands Playhouse)
Adriana Bogaard (costume designer) is a film and theatre designer originally from Nelson, British Columbia. She is a graduate of the National Theatre School’s Set and Costume Design Program, and holds a BA in Drama and Film from the University of British Columbia. She has worked as a designer of sets, costumes, lights, props, and puppets for companies in BC, Alberta, Quebec, and Ontario.
Carmen Leardi (choreographer) is a choreographer and performer hailing from Amherstburg, Ontario. Her most recent credits include City Of Angels, dir. Jen Shuber, More Light, dir. Philip Mckee, and Operations (1945-2006): Movements at Nuit Blanche Toronto with the Boundary Conditions/Performance Assembly. Graduate of Randolph College for the Performing Arts.
Kim Sue Bartnik (assistant designer) is a set and costume designer based in Toronto. She has worked on a number of productions in the Toronto and Ottawa area in roles in design, carpentry/metal work and scenic painting. Currently finishing a degree in Environmental Design at OCAD university, her background in architecture, interior design and installation art inspires her work in the performing arts. Some credits include No One’s Safe (The Banff Centre), The Harry Jerome Awards (BBPA), The Magic Flute (Opera Lyra), Venus in Fur (Plosive Productions). @kimbartnikdesigns
Mikah Morrison Potvin (special effects make-up artist) is currently a student of the University of Toronto studying architecture. She explores art of many fields including, visual arts, digital arts, performing arts, and special effects makeup which she has had experience in for 4 years.
Emma Westray (marketing associate)
Natalka Duncan (website creator) is an Arts Management student at Humber College, and a recent graduate of Huron University College. While her BA was focused on English, Music, and Art History, she took a special interest in Computer Science courses, focusing on web design. She has a passion for theatre, music, art, and dance, and is always eager to contribute to the arts any way she can.
Liliana Vera (graphic designer) is a visual artist and lover of words. She was born in northern Mexico surrounded by cacti, high temperatures and spicy food. With a Bachelor Degree in Graphic Design from the Center of Superior Design Studies of Monterrey (CEDIM) and a diploma in Fine Arts from Centennial College, she works as a Graphic Designer, art instructor, commercial illustrator and Art Director for Film. She is a proud member of Akin Collective where she devotes time to her art practice. She resides in Toronto where she goes for daily walks in search of photographs for her Instagram feed.
Nicholas Paddison (videographer) is a filmmaker based in Toronto, Canada. He has a diverse background spanning theatre and film, and is currently focused on shooting comedic shorts, video podcasts, and live performances. He particularly enjoys being involved in the post production process.
Sean Patenaude (photographer) is a photographer, writer and educator. Sean works in the fields of portrait, wedding and industrial photography for clients as diverse as the Bronfman family, the Anne Murray Museum and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, where he also facilitates the popular “PhotoVoice” documentary photography group. Working in a mixture of chemical and digital media, Sean’s unique images have been reproduced in books, magazines and online. Sean currently photographs people, places and things, many of them in Toronto, Canada.
Irene Flatley (communications outreach coordinator) is an artist, arts facilitator, and communications specialist. She has a Masters of Fine Arts from OTIS College of Arts and Design in Los Angeles and completed the Arts Education and Community Engagement post graduate program at Centennial College in Toronto. As a conceptual and photographic artist, Irene has created various collaborative, solo and curatorial projects. Coming from a development studies background, she is passionate about grassroots and local/situational approaches to artistic practices and storytelling.
*The participation of these Artists is arranged by permission of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association under the provisions of the Dance Opera Theatre Policy (DOT)
CreateTruth Productions would like to thank these organizations for their generous support
We are Deeply Grateful to our Generous Donors!
Lorene Stanwick, playwright, wishes to thank the many people who have supported and encouraged her while creating and developing this project. A special thank you to those who have shared their stories, as difficult as that sometimes was. Those stories are what keeps her going.
Workman Arts: Kelly Straughan, Jessica Jang, Sara Kelly, Cara Spooner, Justina Zatzman
Native Earth Performing Arts: Isaac Thomas, Alex Franks, Mirae Lee
Post-show Discussion Guests and Moderators: Dr. Linda Baker, Athina Goldberg, Heidi McBratney, Troy Shepherd, Kelly Straughan, Judith Thompson, Dr. Vernon Wiehe, Irene Flatley, Philip McKee, Cara Spooner, Justina Zatzman
Centennial College: Gillian Edwards, Carla Gray, David McClyment, Nate Horowitz, Patricia Hunt, Irene Volinets, Jennifer Woodill
CBC: Anna Maria Tremonti, Anne Penman
And… Sandra Bennett, Gail Benvenuto, Bobbi Dahlman, Alaine Demong, David Drummond, Maria Duncan, David Glassman, Julia Gray, Jeff Ho, Kelly Kane, Dr. Sue Martin, Jackie McAlpine, Jordan Merkur, Greg Nowlan, Mike Quigg, Brian Quirt, Judith Thompson, Bruce Walsh, Maria Weijs
A special thank you to Doug Hennessy and Elliot Stanwick, who have made it all possible.
“In Memory of Karla Minello, my dear friend whose wisdom, insight, and honesty are infused into these stories.”
Finally, to all involved in the development of Broken Branches.
Workman Arts and the Ontario Arts Council
Joanne Latimer (Director/Dramaturge), Rebecca Applebaum, Patricia Casey, Mark Correia, Pip Dwyer, Dan Fox, Elva Mae Hoover, Karleena Kelly, Anastasia Kokolakis, Elizabeth McEachern, Lara Neuman, Katerina Taxia
Stories have impact. They engage and teach, provoke and transform.
We invite you to play a pivotal role in ensuring the stories of Broken Branches are heard by becoming a financial contributor to this project.
Charitable donations are made to Workman Arts through CanadaHelps, and will directly support the production of Broken Branches. You can make a donation at the following link; you will automatically receive a charitable tax receipt via email.
If you would prefer to make your donation by cheque, have any questions, or wish to discuss contribution benefits, group sales, or other ways in which you could be involved with this project, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Organization and Business Sponsorships
Please contact us at email@example.com for more information about opportunities for your organization or business.
- Reserve blocks of tickets for your organization’s staff and/or clients
- Arrange for a special performance of Broken Branches for your group
- Become a sponsor (request a full sponsorship package)
- Advertise in the program
- Email us if you would like to know more about our Dream Big opportunities – workshops, readings, touring, and other artistic and educational
activities in the works!
September 19th to 29th, 2019
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