Tarragon Theatre with Scarborough Arts and three Scarborough schools presents

Adapted and directed by Kat Sandler
With Greg Hertel, Zach McKendrick and Catelyn Thornton
Featuring students from R.H. King Academy, Agincourt Collegiate Institute, and the University of Toronto Scarborough

TORONTO (April 7, 2016): On May 14th at 2:00 PM, Tarragon Theatre and three Scarborough schools, in celebration of Tarragon Theatre’s 45th anniversary, present an extraordinary collaborative theatre event, #TheDonellyProject, an adaptation of Sticks and Stones: The Donnellys Part I. First presented at Tarragon in 1973, the James Reaney classic has been newly adapted and is directed by Tarragon Playwright-in-Residence Kat Sandler. Over 50 young actors and musicians from R.H. King Academy, Agincourt Collegiate Institute, and the University of Toronto Scarborough will converge on The Scarborough Arts Park (Harrison Properties Park 1859 Kingston Rd) to explore, explode and claim The Donnellys as their own.

Following its premiere at Tarragon Theatre on November 24, 1973, Sticks and Stones, the first part of James Reaney’s trilogy entitled The Donnellys, was described by The Globe and Mail as “Canada’s own Greek tragedy”.


The Donnellys Trilogy is a poetic drama and a classic piece of Canadian theatre history that explores the tragedy of the Donnelly family who immigrated to Canada in 1844 to escape the political, ethnic and sectarian conflicts in Ireland – commonly referred to as “the troubles” – only to face them once again in their new home. Their struggle to survive is a thirty-six-year epic set in Biddulph Township in southwestern Ontario. The Donnellys steadfastly refuse to leave their land or cower under the pressures and prejudices within their community. Their history becomes legend as it reaches a tragic climax in 1880 when a vigilante mob of thirty men come to their home in the dead of night and massacre five members of the family. 136 years later, the story of the Donnelly family still haunts the Canadian imagination.

Scarborough students have relished the opportunity to work with Toronto’s hottest indie director and playwright, Kat Sandler, and to meet other young actors and to hear from experts, like Canadian Theatre historian and Scarborough Arts Program Director, Sasha Kovacs.

R.H. King student, Alexia Wong explains, “It’s exciting to interpret a classic character and be a part of art in Scarborough. Being able to work with Agincourt, UTSC and Tarragon has been the opportunity of a lifetime.” Reflecting on his experience, another R.H. King student Jacob Robitaille says, “You can’t be involved in this play without putting your heart, soul and body into it. It’s such a group effort.”

From director and adapter Kat Sandler, “The Donnellys is a seminal piece of Canadian theatre, and I’m thrilled to be working on it with a new generation of artists who will bring their own fresh takes, approaches and interpretations to the text.”

James Reaney, Canadian poet and playwright, was born on a farm near Stratford, Ontario, on September 1, 1926. He grew up to become one of Canada’s best-known poets and dramatists, enjoying literary success over a period of seven decades. He also taught in the English Department at Western University for 30 years.His contributions spanned literary genres, ranging from short stories, poetry, libretti, and drama, to plays and novels for children, along with insightful critical essays on literary practice.Highly regarded at home and abroad throughout his career, James Reaney’s work was recognized with three Governor General’s awards, the Chalmers Award for drama, four honorary doctorates and the Order of Canada. He died on June 11, 2008, in London, Ontario.

Kat Sandler is a writer, director and Artistic Director of Theatre Brouhaha, where she has staged ten original plays in the last four years, including Help Yourself (Best of Fringe, winner of the Fringe New Play Contest), Punch Up (Best of Fringe), Delicacy (Summerworks Spotlight Award), and Liver, Cockfight and Retreat (Storefront Theatre). Directing credits include Big Plans, 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, Cabaret, and The Goat, or Who is Sylvia. She was a member of the 2014 Tarragon Playwrights Unit, where she developed, Mustard, which was staged in February of this year at the Tarragon Theatre. She was the 2015 recipient of NOW Magazine’s Audience Choice Award for Best Director and Best Playwright. Kat is a graduate of the Queen’s University Drama Program.

Originally written by James Reaney
Adapted and directed by Kat Sandler with Greg Hertel, Zac Savage and Catelyn Thornton
Produced by Tarragon Theatre, Scarborough Arts and the R.H. King Arts Management Class
Starring actors from Agincourt CI (ACI Drama Company), R.H. King Academy Senior Drama class and the University of Toronto Scarborough

May 14th, 2016 at 2:00 PM, Rain or shine
Scarborough Arts, 1859 Kingston Road, Scarborough, ON M1N 1T3
Parking is available at the Birchmount Community Centre on Kingston Rd.
Please bring a blanket or lawn chair.
More information can be found at the Tarragon Theatre website and #TheDonnellyProject Facebook event page:

Follow @rhkingarts and @TarragonTheatre for updates

ABOUT TARRAGON THEATRE: Tarragon Theatre is one of Canada’s most important arts institutions. For 45 years, Tarragon Theatre has created, developed and produced new plays by home-grown artists as well as significant works from the world stage, vitally contributing to the important legacy of a Canadian culture. Since its founding, over 190 works have premiered at Tarragon and over 500 scripts have been created and workshopped, receiving 34 nominations and 11 wins for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Tarragon received the 2012 Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in recognition of producing and developing leading edge and thought-provoking Canadian Theatre, both nationally and on the world stage. Richard Rose has been the Artistic Director since 2002. www.tarragontheatre.com

Media refer: Alice Walter, Arts Management Teacher at R.H. King / alice.walter@tdsb.on.ca
416 396 5560 x 20090
cell 415 452 0195


Lauren Vandervoort, Director of Communications at Tarragon / lauren@tarragontheatre.com
416-536-5018 x229