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For Home and Country
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Saturday March 27, 2010 in Books

For Home and Country

By Leanna Brodie

Founded in Stoney Creek, Ontario in 1897, the Women’s Institute played three key roles which helped lay the foundations of the feminist movement. It provided a means for the continuing education of rural women, often not schooled beyond the elementary level, at first in practical areas of homemaking, home nursing and food preparation and preservation, then later in professional areas, providing much needed information such as how a woman could establish and protect her legal rights to property. Very early on, Women’s Institute members also began to use their local branches as a forum to lobby for social change, including public health reforms, medical and dental inspections in rural schools, and in some cases even to further the cause of female suffrage. Finally, the Women’s Institute also created an avenue for an evolving female sociability and a context for the evolution of a gender-based identity politics. From their humble beginnings, Women’s Institutes spread widely throughout Ontario, across Canada and around the world. At their height of popularity, Ontario could boast 1,449 branches with more than 47,000 members; Canadian membership climbed to 87,000 by 1953.

For Home and Country dramatizes the generational conflict created by the rise of an urban and radicalized feminist agenda in the latter part of the 20th century and its head-on collision with its much more conservative, rural roots in the Women’s Institute. It is also Leanna Brodie’s homage to the techniques of Canadian populist theatre—grounded in the work of Theatre Passe Muraille—and its ability to tell stories about the power and dignity of ordinary lives that had not previously been considered capable or worthy of being told.

ISBN 13: 9780889225084 | ISBN 10: 889225087
6 W x 9 H inches | 128 pages
$16.95 CAN / $12.95 US
Rights: World
Backlist | Drama | Bisac: DRA013000

QUOTES OF NOTE

The play’s generosity of spirit equals that of the Women’s Institutes that are its subject.
—Ric Knowles

About the Contributors

Leanna Brodie

Leanna Brodie is an actor, translator, and writer. Her radio dramas have been heard on CBC, and her plays are regularly performed across Canada. She has been Playwright-in-Residence at the Blyth Festival, 4th Line Theatre, and Lighthouse Festival Theatre, and together they have commissioned her new documentary play, Turbulence. Her opera with New Zealand composer Anthony Young, Ulla’s Odyssey, will be produced by London’s acclaimed OperaUpClose in October 2015.

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