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Monday January 23, 2012 in Books
It’s June 1981. Farmers face a debt crisis with interest rates as high as 20 percent. More than three hundred men are arrested after police sweeps of Toronto bathhouses, yet Pride Toronto launches its first gay- pride parade. Everything’s changing, including fifteen-year-old Esther, who escapes the family farm and runs away to the city. 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 heartwarming coming-of-age, and coming-out, drama.
The Book of Esther examines the seemingly irreconcilable positions of two groups: conservative rural Christians and militantly anti-religious urban queer activists. But Brodie doesn’t take sides. Instead, it’s like she’s picked up a rock to discover what’s scurrying around underneath, pointed it out to us, and said, “Isn’t this interesting. Maybe we should all look at this for a while. Maybe we should talk about it, instead of just pretending that it isn’t there.”
Cast of 2 women and 3 men.
ISBN 13: 9780889226821 | ISBN 10: 889226822
5.5 W x 8.5 H inches | 128 pages
16.95 CAN / 16.95 US
Backlist | Drama | Bisac: DRA013000
QUOTES OF NOTE
"Like The Vic, Leanna Brodie’s play The Book of Esther is filled with tenderness, heart, and humour. It is also an eloquent plea for understanding. It posits that people who feel they are very much on the opposite ends of the belief spectrum can learn to understand human difference. Are her dreams possible to realize in reality? I’m not sure, but one must admire her skill as a writer, and her ambition as a dreamer."
"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.”
“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
About the ContributorsLeanna 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.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.