It is June 1981: the farm debt crisis. Pride Toronto’s first parade. Everything is changing, including fifteen-year-old Esther, who runs away to the city to escape the family farm. With the help of a brash young hustler and a gay activist who shelters street kids, she confronts her conservative Christian parents—farmers on the brink of financial ruin—and begins to find her way home. Acclaimed playwright Leanna Brodie excels with this heart-warming coming-of-age—and coming-out—drama.
Cast of two women and three men.
About the author
Leanna Brodie is an actor, writer and translator. Her plays (published by Talonbooks) include For Home and Country, The Vic and Schoolhouse, as well as CBC radio dramas Invisible City and Seeds of Our Destruction. She was the first Canadian invited to the ACT/Hedgebrook Women Playwrights’ Festival. She also translates Quebec drama into English—most recently, Louise Bombardier’s Ma mère chien and Hélène Ducharme’s Baobab. Her libretti were heard in Tapestry New Opera Works’ Opera to Go 2008; in David Ogborn’s acclaimed site-specific piece, Opera on the Rocks; and in Emergence, his song cycle featuring a singing robot. The Angle of Reflection, with New Zealand composer Anthony Young, was produced by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. This season, The Book of Esther, a love story about urban queers and rural evangelicals, premieres at the Blyth Festival. Schoolhouse has been seen by over 20, 000 Canadians in multiple sold-out runs, and is slated for further productions in 2010.
“There were audible gasps in the audience as the play’s teenage anti-hero, A.D., spouted off his anti-religious diatribes. Some of his dialogue was so politically incorrect that, if an adult had spoken the lines, it would border on hate-mongering. But that is the conflict situation that Leanna Brodie has set up in her play.”
— Globe & Mail
“For those who fear yet another gay diatribe wrapped in a religious title, Leanna Brodie's The Book of Esther is not that play. Set in both the urban and rural landscapes of the 1980s, the work stands in the ongoing Canadian tradition of drama with characters trying to forge their identities and, by extension, define the nation, as well. Whether or not one agrees with the opinions of the characters is beside the point. Brodie is exploring the possibility of a Canada where the embattled farmer, the gay urbanite, and runaway teen-agers can find themselves in this mosaic of ours, through mutual respect …”
— Dr. Lloyd Arnett
“The issue is simple—as black-and-white as a Holstein cow ... But, happily, The Book of Esther is more than a simple catalogue of controversial, or at least provocative, subjects. When the play opens, the forces that divide—ignorance, prejudice, intolerance, hypocrisy and arrogance—are given free rein. At play’s end, however, the forces that bind—understanding, compassion, tolerance, honesty and love—assert themselves.”