Stage Door News

Toronto: “Broken Branches” about sibling abuse has its world premiere September 19

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Thursday, September 12, 2019 – What happens when sibling conflict crosses a line? Broken Branches” – – a timely and provocative play written by Lorene Stanwick and directed by Philip McKee, starts a long-overdue conversation that sheds light on an important yet silent issue: Sibling Abuse.

The World Premiere is Thursday, September 19, 2019 at Native Earth’s Aki Studio (Daniels Spectrum) 585 Dundas Street East at 8:00pm and runs until Sunday September 29, 2019. Preview performances are Tuesday and Wednesday, September 17 & 18, 2019. General admission tickets are $30.00 (includes tax & service charges) and can be purchased at or

“Broken Branches” weaves together the stories of Jade (Janel Rae Filipiak), Rachel (Sarah Kitz) and Josh (Mark Correia) as they confront the truth about their childhood and the profound impact it has had on their lives. Told with honesty - and humour - it reveals secrets, lies, family dynamics … and the resilience to survive. By making the invisible visible, their stories will forever change the way we see sibling relationships.

Judith Thompson, two-time winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for Drama and one of Canada’s most renowned playwrights calls it a “powerful, bold and beautiful piece”. Thompson will be joined by Workman Arts Executive Artistic Director, Kelly Straughan for a thought-provoking conversation at the September 21 evening performance.

“Broken Branches is a complex and compelling story,” says Straughan. “The subject matter will undoubtedly resonate and we are so very proud to support this production. It delves into sibling abuse which is not talked about, and in some cases even recognized, as a form of abuse.”

A roster of special guests will further the discussion at several performances: Dr. Vernon Wiehe, professor, author and pioneer of sibling abuse research; Dr. Linda Baker, psychologist and family violence expert; Heidi McBratney, trauma therapist, with sibling abuse survivors; Judith Thompson with Kelly Straughan; and members of the cast.

The play forces us to question why we ignore violence and abuse between siblings when we no longer accept it anywhere else. “We all know that siblings can be brutal to one another,” playwright Lorene Stanwick points out. “But we don’t call it what it is – abuse. We need to name it and talk about it, or it will never change,” she adds. “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.”

CBC Radio’s “The Current” recognized that as well, when their May 2016 segment on sibling bullying received overwhelming audience response. They invited Stanwick and other survivors to join host Anna Maria Tremonti for a follow-up segment.
“Broken Branches is a very important and unique project,” says Director Philip McKee who has worked with some of Canada’s finest artists, including Eric Peterson, Clare Coulter, Jordan Tannahil and Tanya Jacobs. “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.”

Produced by CreateTruth Productions in Association with Workman Arts, “Broken Branches” has attracted a stellar cast: Sarah Kitz; Rebecca Applebaum; Janel Rae Filipiak; Anastasia Kokolakis; and Mark Correia. “Broken Branches” acknowledges the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.

Audience Advisory: There are references to childhood abuse from siblings (including sexual abuse) and its aftermath; mental health issues, addiction and self-harm. Coarse language.