Brodie, Leanna 1966–
Brodie, Leanna 1966–
PERSONAL: Born May 16, 1966, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; daughter of R. David (an entertainer and educator) and Phyllis Eileen (a nurse and riding instructor; maiden name, Madill; later surname, Lynch) Brodie; married Jovanni Sy (an actor, writer, and artistic director). Education: Attended University of Guelph, 1985–88. Religion: "Jewish father, Protestant mother."
ADDRESSES: Agent—Michael Petrasek, Kensington Literary Representation, 54 Wolseley St., Toronto, Ontario M5T 1A5, Canada. E-mail—leanna.brodie@ sympatico.ca.
CAREER: Playwright and actor.
MEMBER: Playwrights Guild of Canada (chair of Ontario caucus, 2003), Association of Canadian Television and Radio Artists, Canadian Actors' Equity Association.
AWARDS, HONORS: Cited among top ten Toronto theater artists, Now magazine, 2001.
Invisible City (radio play), Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC), 2001.
The Vic (play), Talonbooks (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2002.
For Home and Country (play), Talonbooks (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2004.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Author's play Schoolhouse has been commissioned by the Blyth Festival; The Seeds of Our Destruction, for broadcast on CBC radio; plays That Good Night and One Woman, One Child, completion expected in 2006; The Grandmother Hypothesis, for Nightwood Theater, 2006.
SIDELIGHTS: Leanna Brodie told CA: "I'm a feminist; I'm a Canadian. There: you have been warned. When I started to write for the theatre, I was (and still am) an actress. After years of sitting around complaining about roles for women that were not significant, not complex, and not there, I realized that I wanted to write the kinds of characters that I wished I could play: dark, funny, powerful, disturbing human beings with things to say. I did not want to write about getting men, or getting back at men, or getting men back. I wanted to write about things that enrage me, things that amaze me, things that I am struggling to understand. In other words, I wanted to write through women, for everyone.
"Canadians are widely considered to be even more boring than feminists. This is fair warning, then, that Canada has its woolen mittens all over my work. For example, I will always encourage diversity—ethnically and otherwise—in the casting of my plays because I live in one of the most diverse cities in the world, and to fail to reflect that onstage would just seem strange to me. I also have been influenced by our greatest theatre artists and traditions: from the visual poetry of Robert Lepage, and the choral street poetry of Michel Tremblay, to the fierceness and fearlessness of George Walker and Judith Thompson, and the hugely generous spirit of our seminal popular theatre collectives (which use simple yet powerful staging to create actor-driven spectacles that give dramatic form to what Jovanni Sy calls 'the voice of the unheard').
"The way in which I write depends on the piece, and even on the scene. For Home and Country was commissioned as a history of the Women's Institute (a highly influential rural women's movement that spread from Canada across the world). As such, it began with a great deal of archival reading, interviews, and other research; continued with a plan of action written out on recipe cards; and then evolved with the help of some physical theatre creation techniques and a lot of work on getting to know my main characters. Gradually, it became as much a play about friendship and belonging as it is about the Women's Institute. The Vic, on the other hand, is an ensemble drama for eight women that takes a hard look through female eyes at issues of power, cruelty, and responsibility between lovers, families, leaders, followers, and friends. The play involved a certain amount of research—and a great deal of spelunking into the unknown with not so much as a lantern.
"All of my other projects fall somewhere between these two poles. If I had to identify some thematic constants in my plays so far, they would be: the struggle for community; voices of women; ethics; Canada. Of course, I'm probably the last person you should ask."