Stories of the Women’s Institute production – “I Was Born”


For Immediate Release

September 4, 2013



Stories of the Women’s Institute production – “I Was Born” hosted

by the Alice Munro Writers and Readers Festival


Most life stories begin with "I was born" thus the title of Peggy Coffey’s mask and story piece was chosen. This is a presentation you won't want to miss. 


The Alice Munro Writers & Readers Festival is hosting a presentation by actor and creative director Peggy Coffey in a reading of her mask and story piece – I Was Born – at 1:30pm on September 28th, 2013 at the Phillips Studio, 209 Dinsley Street, Blyth.    Peggy brings alive the stories of women who began their lives at the turn of the century in rural Ontario — extraordinary women who lived through some of the most dramatic changes of any generation.  The presentation is based on stories of the women of the Women’s Institutes, which were collected and published by the Women’s Institute (WI) in a book called From This Place by Pat Salter. 


These stories will touch your heart and soul. The Institute Women did so much for rural Ontario. “I was immediately taken by the power and historical significance of the stories these women tell about the lives they lived in the early part of the 20th Century in rural southern Ontario,” Peggy says, and she began to envision a theatre piece which would tell these stories and celebrate the lives of these remarkable women. 


Working in collaboration with Heather Ruthig, a prop and mask maker from the Stratford Festival, they created the first mask.   'Grace' is a ninety year old woman who tells the first story in the book. Peggy recalls: “I envisioned 'Grace' standing on a white pedestal with “circa 1901" on a sign at her feet, the idea being that she is a 'museum piece'.   Then Grace steps off the pedestal and tells her story.”


Peggy gives “voice to an entire generation, whose perspective stands in illuminating contrast to our crowded, chaotic, and ever-shrinking world” one audience member said after seeing Peggy perform this piece.  Marion Adler says it best: (I Was Born) is “a magical, immediate, exhilarating experience of the past (achieved) with simplicity and grace.”



September 28th, 2013

The Phillips Studio
209 Dinsley Street East, Blyth

Doors open: 1:00PM        Reading Performance: 1:30PM

Tickets: $12:00 per person available online at or by calling:  Karen Stewart at 519-523-4328.


Media Contact:
Karen Stewart, Chair, Steering Committee
Alice Munro Writers & Readers Festival

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Peggy Coffey has worked in Canadian theatre for over 30 years as a leading actress, movement artist, director, producer and educator. A Stratford Shakespeare Festival veteran actor, selected roles include: Cressida, Troilus and Cressida; Hermia, A Midsummer Night's Dream; Julia,Two Gentleman of Verona; Shrew, Shakespeare's Universe. She is a founding member of Alternative Theatre Works whose productions include Falling: A Wake and Bolsheviki with Infintheatre in Montreal. Peggy was a co-founder and co-artistic producer of SpringWorks indie theatre and arts festival 2011.


Heather Ruthig grew up in Oxford County where her family farmed. She graduated in '94 from the University of Guelph, Ont., where she majored in Fine Arts. She has been working as a prop-builder for the last 16 years at the Stratford Festival. There she has had the opportunity to create masks, carved and welded sculpture, as well as soft furnishings. She also enjoys creating her own paintings and sculptures out of her St Mary's area studio.

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