On the brink of artistic discovery, Michel’s plans for the future are interrupted by a diagnosis of schizophrenia – he must rely on his sister – yet Karen has dreams of her own, how long can she push them aside to care for him?
Drawn from the writer’s lived experience of schizophrenia, this powerful play explores the relationship between siblings who grapple with managing this condition, which interrupts their focus on transforming the world through art.
Michel is writing his first novel, Hipflask, his older sister Karen is in Europe turning the world into paintings. Michel’s letters take a strange turn. He believes Joan Miro and Franz Kafka are his companions and he can speak with them. His sister Karen rushes home. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, Michel is unable to accept it. Karen becomes her brother’s career, which tests but cannot destroy their strong bond.
Cathy Hunt’s direction has led to four superb performances, and the nuance each actor brings to their characters is to be commended. – The Music
Writer: Michel Paul Tuomy
NDIS Arts Mentor: Tania Smith
Dramaturg: Peter Matheson
Mad Comrade: Sandy Jeffs
Director: Cathy Hunt
Directing Attachment (Emerging Director Award, Union House): Vaishnavi Ravikrishna
Set & costume designer: Kris Bird
Sound designer & composer: Jess Keeffe
Lighting designer: Shane Grant
Production & Stage manager: Hayley Fox
Michel: Adam Cass
Karen: Jane Barry
Image by Darren Gill
Michel’s artworks by Michel Paul Tuomy
Karen’s artworks by Elyss McCleary
Content warning: References the experience of acute mental illness in the form of schizophrenia.
What to expect from Little Brother, Big Sister (pdf)
What to expect from Little Brother, Big Sister (word doc)
The Playwright’s Supporting Note – Michel Paul Tuomy
It is not my or our creative team’s intent to lead someone to have an episode due to the confronting material in Little Brother, Big Sister. Yet if someone does feel vulnerable, before coming to the play, or while you are at La Mama, we have been thinking of you. We have some in-depth information to provide awareness of any possibly confronting material that is available upon request from La Mama box office. And we have a quiet space outside the theatre into which to retreat, if you are in need of tranquil space, during or after the play.
Emotional resolution over difficult terrain is a big theme in this play and this theme translates to how we want our audience to respond to personal details of lived experience. Our wish is that our play be a gentle journey of learning and smooth sailing, where everyone’s needs are cared for in every personal situation, before it can escalate into a predicament. Carers and consumers alike, you are all welcome into La Mama’s caring environment. Remember, we are there for our audience.
This project is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.