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The Book of Esther

The Book of Esther
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Leanna Brodie
Publisher: Talonbooks (cover image may change)
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 128
Pub. Date: 2012
ISBN-10: 0889226822
ISBN-13: 9780889226821
Cast Size: 2 female, 3 male

About the Play:

The Book of Esther is a full-length drama by Leanna Brodie. This epic story tackles issues of faith, farming and sexuality with a refreshingly frank approach. Fifteen-year-old Esther runs away to the city to escape the family farm and ends up confronting her conservative, Christian life boundaries. Acclaimed playwright Leanna Brodie excels with this heartwarming coming-of-age, and coming-out, drama.

The Book of Esther is an intriguing study of a 15-year-old-girl struggling to grow up in a rural setting. It's the 1980s during the farm foreclosure crisis. Seth Dalzell is struggling to hold onto the farm that has been in his family for four generations, to bequeath to his daughter Esther. Similarly, his wife, Anthea, is struggling to hold her family together through her devoutly conservative, evangelical faith. By imposing their strong and rigid wills on their daughter Esther, they have forced her to escape the family farm and run away to Toronto. In the small community she's from, the teenage underground knows of a safe house in the city provided by former resident Todd, a middle-aged gay activist, who was once a close friend of both Seth's and Anthea's. While on the run, Esther befriends A.D., a streetwise, anti-adult smartass who often finds refuge at Todd's. With their help, she confronts her conservative-Christian parents and begins to find her way home. The Book of Esther examines the seemingly irreconcilable positions of two groups: conservative rural Christians and militantly anti-religious urban queer activists. But Leanna Brodie doesn't take sides. What the play is really about is faith, not in a particular brand of religion or inheritance or sexual orientation, but in the sacredness of family and the holiness of love.

The Book of Esther premiered in 2010 at the Blyth Festival Theatre (one of Canada's most widely-praised producers of new plays) and proved a hit with audiences. Since then the play opened in 2011 at the Mount Tabor Playhouse in Milford, Ontario, and in 2014 at the Guild Hall in Whitehorse, Yukon.

Cast: 2 female, 3 male

What people say:

"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, Professor at Trinity Western University School of the Arts, Media & Culture

"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." — Sky Gilbert, playwright

"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." — Therecord.com

"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." — The Globe & Mail

About the Playwright:

Leanna Brodie is a Canadian playwright, translator, and actor whose work has been performed across Canada, the USA, the UK, and New Zealand. She was the first Canadian invited to the ACT/Hedgebrook Women Playwrights' Festival in Seattle, and has twice been Playwright-in-Residence at the 4th Line Theatre in Millbrook, Ontario.

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