Theatre partnering up with FTP to shine a light on domestic violence

November 5, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

With Nov. 1 marking the beginning of Women Abuse Prevention Month, Theatre Orangeville is partnering up with Family Transition Place to host a special virtual production in an attempt to shine a light on an issue that still very much exists here in town. 

“This play is by Dwight Storring and Gary Kirkham,” said Norah Kennedy, Executive Director at Family Transition Place. “They were commissioned by Waterloo Women’s Crisis Services, to bring attention in a very real way to the abuse of women in their community.”

In this telephone interview with the Citizen, Ms. Kennedy went on to explain, “They interviewed women who had suffered from violence, plus the people who had helped them. So, the language is their own; one of the nice things about our version is utilizing actors from Theatre Orangeville. Shelburne Police Chief, Kent Moore, will also be doing a reading. So is [Dufferin-Caledon MPP] Sylvia Jones and some staff from FTP, including Travis Greenley and Christina Gonzales.”

Ms. Kennedy goes on to highlight the great lengths the cast and crew went to in order to  ensure a “safe” production. 

“This version, obviously due to COVID-19, is being delivered remotely. It is organized in a series of monologues and recorded over Zoom. We wanted to make sure that we were really emphasizing [remote delivery], to show that we were staying safe.

And so, how can one tune into this powerful play?

“You buy a ticket [link] from Theatre Orangeville and they send a link over the internet. This is a one time thing. It opens on Nov. 5[today]; then you have 72 hours to watch it.

She continues, “Hearing in the womens’ own words what it was like for them… It makes it impossible to turn away, because you’re hearing from their perspective. There’s the story of Bernice Bourdeau, who was killed by her partner in Waterloo in 2007, told by her nephew and recounted in her own words from a letter found after her death.”

Ms. Kennedy wanted to be clear, “Although the piece is heavy and can be difficult to watch, there is hope as the women connect with others – the shelters, councillors and get the help they need.”

She said, “There are people who are willing and available to help. Always.” 

In answering  a question about the response she hopes, or expects to receive, Ms. Kennedy said, “The first time we performed something like this, in Orangeville, about three years ago, we had a very strong response. People found it powerful, moving, touching. They were impressed by how it informed them about gender-based violence.”

She commented, “There has to be balance in reporting; we have to get past the point of saying, ‘it’s not my business’.

“Usually, the best thing you can do: you can speak to that person. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to reach out and let her know that she is not alone. You can tell her, if she wants to leave a bag of things at your house in case she needs to get away in a hurry, she’d have something ready.”

As we now enter our eighth full month of provincially-mandated  restrictions on every day life, Ms. Kennedy admits the ongoing pandemic has led to a direct increase in the number of visits and calls made into the local women’s shelter. That, it would seem, indicates domestic violence is a growing problem here in our community. 

“At this particular time,” she pressed on, “we are isolated – people are being quarantined in their homes. FTP is promoting a text number so that a person can quietly contact us. There is too often the problem of someone – a neighbour or friend – who knows something is wrong but still thinks, ‘I don’t want to get involved; it’s not our business.’

“Again, if the husbands are pals, recognizing we still have a role to play,” she warned, “A woman in a violent relationship is only going to be able to leave when she feels it is right and when you can convince her, you being aware; paying attention and making sure it’s safe for yourself to intervene as well.”

As with so many difficult situations, interjecting yourself into somebody’s elses life may have repurcussions, Ms. Kennedy said. 

 “Primarily, she may or may not thank you for it. You may wonder, ‘why didn’t she tell the truth?’ It could be any number of reasons. She may believe it would be worse for her if she did; she may still love the man. It’s not as easy as a lot of people think to just say a man hurts you. Often that decision to leave is there, but the choice is to move into poverty.

“That’s why our shelter in this beautiful part of the world is usually full; it provides a [much-needed] stepping point.”

Family Transition Place primarily provides services to women and children who have experienced abuse. 

“We know that abuse has wide ranging impact on people’s lives in the community and society in general,” Ms. Kennedy said.

The values that govern the administration and philosophy of the shelter are: compassion, integrity, respect, inclusiveness and “continuous learning and innovation.” 

Their purpose is to help to build a community that is free of abuse by compassion, equity and respect; a community people living in healthy relationships.

To this end, they provide an emergency shelter and many services, including partly: outreach, counselling for men and women, youth education.

“November is violence against women prevention month,” Ms. Kennedy told the Citizen. “There is always something that you can do. Even let a person know that she’s not alone.”

Rage Against Violence is the next ticket/link for purchase at Theatre Orangeville, in partnership and support: all proceeds for which go to FTP. The link is open from Nov. 5 at 7:00 p.m. It runs as an exclusive link and will be shut down on Nov. 7 at midnight. Once purchased and open, the link may be watched at any time per viewing .

For info and to purchase the link, go to, or call them at 519-942-3423. To make a donation to Family Transition Place and to learn more about it, go to

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