The Innocence of Trees

The Innocence of Trees

by Eugene Stickland

November 22 to December 11, 2022

That’s the goal: happiness.
The Innocence of Trees

Beloved painter Agnes Martin enters a theatre. A play is written for her about
a meeting with her younger self, a girl aching to go towards something
new. Beauty. Truth. Innocence. The voices in her head lead her to paint.
Her search for happiness takes Agnes on a journey from Macklin,
Saskatchewan to MoMA of New York and the mesas of Taos, New Mexico. Her
storied life is nearly over, and just about to begin. Presented in
conjunction with AGNES MARTIN: RETROSPECTIVE, a visual art and multi-media
exhibit in The Roxy’s Miller Art Gallery.

Maralyn Ryan & Emma Ryan

Director Bradley Moss

Sound Design Darrin Hagen & Morag Northey

Cellist Morag Northey

Set & Costume Designer Briana Kolybaba

Lighting Designer Even Gilchrist

Projection Designer Ian Jackson

Stage Managers Tracey Byrne & Tim Yakimec

November 22 to December 11, 2022

The Roxy Theatre:
Nancy Power Theatre

Cast & Crew Biographies

Eugene Stickland

Eugene Stickland (“that writer guy” in the play) was born in Saskatchewan. Perhaps it was this coincidence of geography that first interested him in Agnes Martin and her story. Eugene grew up in Regina and attended the University of Regina, first as a music major before switching to English Literature. From Regina, Eugene went to Toronto and completed an MFA in playwriting at York University, a degree that has served him well, this being his twentieth produced play. The Innocence of Trees is Eugene’s sixth play for Theatre Network, following A Guide to Mourning, Midlife, Closer and Closer Apart, All Clear and Excavations. Eugene is grateful for the tremendous support he has received at Theatre Network going back over twenty years.

Eugene became interested in his fellow Saskatchewan ex-pat artist Agnes Martin twenty years ago or so, having read an article about her in New Yorker magazine. (More details on the genesis of the play elsewhere in the program.) A lunch with Bradley in the late fall of 2019 led to a handshake deal to create a piece about Agnes. Three years later, here we all are. Obviously between now and then, the pandemic certainly slowed things down, yet provided lots of opportunity for research. Besides which, the new theatre hadn’t been built. And what’s the rush anyway?

A few years ago, Eugene wrote a novel titled The Piano Teacher (available at which won the W. O Mitchell award. Another Saskatchewan connection in Alberta. He plans on finishing another in 2023. Also down the road, he plans on completing a volume of poetry as well as a memoire. Will there be another play? No plans at this point, but you never know.

He has certainly enjoyed this opportunity to be back at Theatre Network once again.

Maralyn Ryan

A veteran of the Canadian stage, Ms. Ryan has appeared on stages across the country from New Brunswick to Victoria. 

For Theatre Network: Choke, Habitat, True West 

Other selected acting credits include: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, The Humans, Christmas Carol Jane Eyre (The Citadel Theatre), Doll’s House, Part 2 (Wildside Theatre), Vivian Bearing in Wit, The Perfect Garnish, (Globe Theatre, Regina), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Theatre Calgary), Homeward Bound (Theatre New Brunswick), Thirteen Hands (Grand Theatre and the National Arts Centre), Maria Callas in Master Class, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (Sudbury Theatre Centre), Joy, The Shop at Sly Corner (Shaw Festival), Crackpot (Winnipeg Prairie Theatre Exchange and the Belfry Theatre), Lend Me a Tenor (Manitoba Theatre Centre), Thirteen Hands (Canadian Stage Toronto), Hamlet (Freewill, Edmonton), The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband, Private Lives (Northern Light Theatre), Sheer Madness, Maggie’s Getting Married, Charley’s Aunt (Mayfield Theatre), The Last Train (Shadow Theatre), Our Country’s Good, Road, Lion in The Streets (Phoenix theatre), Rabbit Hole (Saskatoon Persephone Theatre), Terry and the Dog (Edmonton Actors Theatre), Should’ve (World Conference in Chemistry, Turin, Italy), Happy Days, Effects of Gamma Rays (Edmonton Fringe Festival). Ms. Ryan was an actor with the Banff Playwrights Colony in it’s final residence.  

As an actor and director, she has garnered three Sterling Awards ten nominations. In 2018, she was honoured with a lifetime Sterling Award: “Most Valuable Contribution to Theatre in Edmonton” 

As the founder of the St. Albert Children’s Theatre, she directed its vision for ten years- directing over thirty productions – all with young people from 6-18.  

In Fort MacMurray, she founded and was the AD of a youth performance camp using theatre and puppetry in the storytelling of the community’s history. 

In its eighteenth year, the Fort MacMurray Heritage Village and Park built an antique barn for this program replacing it’s home in a 100-year-old log cabin church.  For Northern Light Theatre, her work with young people was extensive as they performed shows for the Edmonton Fringe Festival. The Diary of Anne Frank, was the last show performed. 

As Associate Director with Robin Phillips at the Citadel Theatre, she was principal of the theatre school  as well as the artistic director of The Citadel Theatre’s  International Children’s Festival and the Teen Festival of the Arts. 

Selected directing credits include, The Phoenix Theatre, (Sight Unseen) The Citadel Theatre, (Big River), The Mayfield Theatre, (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) 

Opera Nova, (The Light at the Piazza) Red Deer College, (Hamlet) Grant MacEwan University, (Road) and Atco Energy Theatre. (The Emperor’s Nightingale, Urashima Taro and The Dark Creature) (Theatre Prospero) and eight years writing and directing for Atco Energy Theatre. 

In addition to teaching and directing for the Citadel Theatre School, she  taught and directed for Grant MacEwan University, the University of Alberta, Red Deer College, Leduc High School, Victoria School of the Arts,  Artstrek, Concordia College and Keyano College. 

Ms. Ryan was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, holds a BA in theatre from the University of Dayton, Ohio.  At the Willoughby School of Fine Arts (Cleveland, Ohio) which was modelled, fortuitously, after The Banff School of Fine Arts. There she co-founded a theatre and opera company, a touring educational company and a children’s theatre. Her family immigrated to Canada in 1979 continuing their passion for theatre. Both her daughters are professional theatre artists…her granddaughter holds a BA in theatre from the University of Alberta…..and so the story telling lives on. 

“So much love and appreciation to Theatre Network and to their board, their contributors and to present and future audiences…We are friends. For a story bonds us, hearts and minds, with its dynamic telling in the theatre.”

To my co-star, Emma, thank you for filling my heart with your powerful life force.

To Agnes Martin, You are never forgotten.

Emma Ryan

(she/her) is an actor, choreographer, and director currently based in Treaty 6

Territory. She is a recent graduate of the BFA Acting program at the University of Alberta. Her

goal as an artist is to open conversations and destroy stigmas that have been set and have narrowed our greater understanding. Select Theatre Credits: Rachel in My Name Is Rachel Corrie (Two Kids In A TrenchCoat), Shabby in Rochdale, Evil Tina in She Kills Monsters, Princess of France in Love’s Labour’s Lost in Translation (Studio Theatre), Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (University of Alberta), Freewill Shakespeare Puppet Shows ~ Hamlet and Comedy of Errors (Thou Art Here), A Christmas Carol (Citadel Theatre).

Film/TV: Please Hold (dir. Cooper & O’Hara), Markings of Murder (dir. Jarvis Greiner, in post-production)

Darrin Hagen

Darrin Hagen is an award-winning playwright, author, composer and Queer historian. He has created (or co-created) over 40 plays, and has been produced across Canada and in the U.S and Europe, many through his groundbreaking production company Guys In Disguise. Through his writing, he has followed a path of utilizing his own experience as an outsider to create art that is a window to a distinct way of viewing gender and history. 

His award-winning 1996 writing debut, The Edmonton Queen was expanded into a book- length project, published by Brindle & Glass Publishing and now in its fourth printing. Other published work includes Tornado Magnet: A Salute to Trailer Court Women and Queering The Way: The Loud & Queer Anthology, a collection of LGBTQ writing drawn from Edmonton’s decades-long Loud & Queer Cabaret. He has received 7 Sterling Awards for his work in Edmonton Theatre, and over 40 nominations in the categories of playwriting, original composition, musical director, sound design acting and producing, as well as an AMPIA for Best Male Host. He has published many articles and essays and has received 3 Alberta Magazine Publishers Association awards nominations. 

Other plays by Darrin include Witch Hunt at the Strand; The Empress & The Prime Minister; Buddy; The Neo-Nancies (Hitler’s Kickline); the international comedy hits With Bells On (currently being adapted into a musical my NYC’s own Live & in Color); BitchSlap!; Typhoon Judy; and PileDriver!; and his most recent autobiographical solo show Metronome. With Trevor Schmidt he has co-created wildly successful comedies for Guys In Disguise like Flora & Fawna’s Field Trip; Flora & Fawna Have Beaver Fever; Prepare For The Worst; Don’t Frown at the Gown; Puck Bunnies; Dragula; Psychobabble and 2 Queens & A Joker, as well as the multi-award- nominated musical Klondykes. His work has been presented in Whitehorse, Vancouver, Kelowna, Edmonton, Red Deer, Calgary, Fort MacLeod, Regina, Meacham, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Toronto, Minneapolis, Key West, Seattle, West Hollywood, and Ireland.

Morag Northey

Morag Northey, is an award winning artist with works that consider healing, the land, and the vivid emotive expression of story.  She is a composer, musician, writer, songwriter, director & a producer in the areas of film, dance, theatre, and sound installation. Morag was creator, leader and performer for a year of Full Moon walks, talks, and concerts in Calgary’s Fish Creek Provincial Park.  She performed a three year series of solo voice and cello improvisatory concerts called ‘Together Calgary, Together World,’ St. Mary’s Cathedral, to then walk, play and serenade along ‘The Way’ – 720 Klm. across Spain. 

Morag has been cellist and composer for theatre/musicals for 32 years, she performed the Elgar Cello Concerto with orchestra in Canada & US 2019, and is a dedicated teacher to her studio of wonderful students.   Her CD ‘This is the Life,’ Red Venus Blue Tango 2009, US & Canadian debuted play ’17,’ and her film scores; ’Enticed’ 2007, ’We Are the Land’ 2021, ‘What of our Own Water,’ 2022 and sound installations ‘Whispers,’ 2020,  and ‘RiverWoman’2022 have lead to Eugene Stickland’s ‘Innocence of Trees.’

Morag is honoured to continue a vibrant tradition of firsts with Eugene.  As ‘The Innocence of Trees’ is her first sound design in Edmonton, her first theatrical composition was for Eugene’s play ‘Queen Lear.’ As mentor, dramaturg and narrator, Eugene performed in Morag’s first play “17 – emptiness inside out,” and here the plot thickens… ’17’s” American premiere was in Taos New Mexico, where Eugene reverently sat among Agnes Martin paintings in the Harwood Museum, to later declare, “I will write about the life and work of Agnes Martin”…the circle is complete. 

Morag is Mother to two amazing women, a Queen (cat) Blueberry & Monk, a golden retriever.  Thank you Theatre Network and the ‘Innocence of Trees’ team for the warm Edmonton invitation and welcome.

Brianna Kolybaba

Brianna is a film and theatre designer of set, costume, lighting and projections. An ever-morphing artist of the occasion, Brianna brings her passion for world-building through visual story support. Select theatre credits include; set design for The Marriage of Figaro (Edmonton Opera), set design for Cosi Fan Tuttí (Edmonton Opera), set & costume design for Mary’s Wedding (Citadel Theatre), set & lighting design for Lake of The Strangers (Naheyawin & Fringe Theatre), set & costume design for Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play (You Are Here & Blarney Productions), costume design for The Drowsy Chaperone and After Juliet (Citadel Young Companies), co-costume design for national tour (2018) of Bears (Punctuate! Theatre).

Even Gilchrist

Even Gilchrist (he/him) is a trans and queer theatre creator working based in amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton). He went to the University of Alberta for the MFA in Theatre Design. Some recent design credits include: #34 (Set and Costume Design – Globe Theatre), Re:Construct (Playwright, Set and Video Design – Donkey Dog Theatre), Love From Afar (Set Design – A Company of Fools), and Tune to A (Costume and Lighting Design – Expanse Festival). You can check out for more of his work and recent collaborations, if you’re feeling fancy.

Ian Jackson

Ian is delighted to be back at Theatre Network. Past  Multi-Media Design work includes: Infinity, Irma Voth, Poster Boys, Buddy, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Excavations. Ian is grateful to the Edmonton Theatre community for giving him three Sterling Awards for Multi-Media Design over his career. Ian is also an accomplished professional photographer and videographer.

Tracey Byrne

Tracey is very excited to be a part of Theatre Networks production of The Innocence of Trees. She loves working with Brad and the entire team here at Theatre Network!!

Pre–pandemic credits with the Roxy include Woman in Black, The Gravitational Pull of Bernice Trimble, and Armstrong’s War. Tracey is very excited to be returning to stage manage Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes in the spring. When she isn’t stage managing, Tracey enjoys visiting her family and grandchildren on Vancouver Island. She wants to thank her husband John for his love and support.

Tim Yakimec

Theatre Network: Debut.  Elsewhere: Selected: The Hydrofoil Mystery (Theatre Baddeck), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Freewill Shakespeare), The Magic Flute, The Merry Widow, The King and I, Don Carlos (Hawaii Opera Theatre/ Opera Hong Kong). Aida, La Traviata, Carmen, Les Feluettes, (+30 more for Edmonton Opera). Amadeus, A Streetcar Named Desire, Uncle Vanya (The Atlantic Theatre Festival. Pelagie (Canstage and NAC). Founder/Actor/Manager (The Leave It To Jane Theatre). Production Stage Manager (2005 Queen’s Commonwealth Visit). Director General (Edmonton Opera 2012-2020). TRAINING: University of Alberta (B of Ed.), Macewan University (Theatre). ETC: Taught instrumental and choral music prior to and along with his work in Theatre and Opera. Tim makes his home in Edmonton with his wife Jocelyn and three dogs.