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Drama Canadian

The Book of Jessica

A Theatrical Transformation

by (author) Linda Griffiths & Maria Campbell

Playwrights Canada Press
Initial publish date
Jan 1997
Canadian, Women Authors
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 1997
    List Price

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Part dialogue, part narrative, part playscript, this unique book contains the award-winning play Jessica, as well as the extraordinary story of its making.

About the authors

Linda Griffiths is an actress, producer, and writer. Griffiths is a founding member of 25th Street Theatre in Saskatoon and one of the original cast members in its collective creation Paper Wheat (1978), which toured sold-out houses across Canada. A year later, she performed in another collective creation, Les Maudits Anglais, in Montreal under the direction of future co-writer, Paul Thompson. Griffiths’s first major success came when she and Thompson collaborated to write Maggie and Pierre, a one-person, three-character play that bases its narrative structure on events in Pierre and Margaret Trudeau’s life together. Maggie and Pierre toured Canada, played the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto, and Off Broadway at the Phoenix Theatre.

Griffiths has also written O.D. in Paradise (first produced in 1982 at 25th Street Theatre); Jessica (with Maria Campbell, first produced in 1984 at 25th Street Theatre and later at Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille in 1986); The Darling Family (first produced in 1991 at Theatre Passe Muraille, made in 1993 into a feature film); Brother André’s Heart (first produced in 1992 at Crow’s Theatre, Toronto); and The Duchess (first produced in 1998 at Theatre Passe Muraille). Between 1986 and 1988, Griffiths was co-artistic director of Theatre Passe Muraille, along with Layne Coleman and Clarke Rogers. Griffiths has received many awards for her contributions to the theatre world. She has won five Dora Mavor Moore awards, including wins for Maggie and Pierre (1980), O.D. in Paradise (1983), Jessica (1986), and Alien Creature (2000); a Gemini award; two Chalmers Canadian Play Awards for Jessica (1986) and Alien Creature (2000); and a Quizanne International Festival award for Jessica (1987). She has twice been nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Griffiths started her own company, Duchess Productions (1997), which produced the tour of Alien Creature. In addition to her plays, Griffiths writes fiction and poetry. In 1999, an anthology of her work, Sheer Nerve: Seven Plays by Linda Griffiths, was published. Her latest play, The Age of Arousal, premiered at Alberta Theatre Projects’s Enbridge playRites Festival in 2007.

Linda Griffiths' profile page

Maria Campbell is a Métis writer, playwright, filmmaker, scholar, teacher, community organizer, activist, and elder. Halfbreed is regarded as a foundational work of Indigenous literature in Canada. She has authored several other books and plays, and has directed and written scripts for a number of films. She has also worked with Indigenous youth in community theatre and advocated for the hiring and recognition of Indigenous people in the arts. She has mentored many Indigenous artists during her career, established shelters for Indigenous women and children, and run a writers’ camp at the national historical site at Batoche, where every summer she produces commemorative events on the anniversary of the battle of the 1885 North-West Resistance. Maria Campbell is an officer of the Order of Canada and holds five honorary doctorates.

Maria Campbell's profile page


  • Winner, Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play
  • Winner, Chalmers Canadian Play Award
  • Winner, Quizanne International Festival Award

Editorial Reviews

"Imagine one woman acting out another woman's life before that woman's eyes. Imagine that the woman improvising is white, and the woman watching is Metis. Imagine that the two women collaborate on a play: fight over the plays, do not speak to each other for years, and finally reconcile, recording their tempestuous journey in a book which ends with the play.
Essentially that is the process that culminated in The Book of Jessica, the work of actress (playwright) Linda Griffiths and Metis activist Maria Campbell, author of Halfbreed. The result is a fascinating study not only of the tortuous birth of a magnificent play but of the relationship of two women driven apart and bound together by a maelstrom of internal and external forces.Their book changed me for the better. The spirit lives."

The Globe and Mail

"…a dense, mystical play about the spiritual journey of a young half-breed woman and about the process of change itself. After slipping into a life of prostitution and hard drugs, Jessica is rootless. She visits a native elder who creates a ceremony in which Jessica's animal spirits appear and promise to take her back through her life. Each represents an aspect of human existence. Crow is her special protector, he's unreliable and he gambles. Bear is a shaggy security blanket of strength, the Wolverine is vicious and terrifying but also has much to teach. Then a Unicorn arrives from Jessica's Celtic past, shocking the native spirits and all hell breaks loose. As the ceremony unfolds, each spirit enacts a character in Jessica's life. Bear becomes her boyfriend Sam, Unicorn, a friend from her drug days, Wolverine a lawyer who tries to own her. But Crow always remains Crow. A significant new play." —Toronto Star

Other titles by Linda Griffiths

Other titles by Maria Campbell