AURORA – Good evening everyone, I’m Leona Alleslev, your Member of Parliament for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill.
I am thrilled to welcome you all here tonight at the Temple of Fame Opening Night Reception. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Temple of Fame play. The original production was written, directed and performed by women of Aurora in 1918. How incredible is it to think that 100 years ago, the community of Aurora gathered together, just like we are here today, to celebrate the arts and acknowledge the achievements of historical women.
As your Member of Parliament I am proud that our Government recognized the importance of this historical production and granted over $18,000 through the Building Communities through Arts and Heritage Program. The Aurora Museum and Archives was gifted with the original program and photographs and the play has been revived to still be relevant in 2018.
The original play featured historical and fictional female characters pleading to the Goddess of Fame as to why they are worthy of the Crown. It was performed by women in Aurora at a time when women rights and roles were evolving and changing from the First World War. 1918 marked the first time women (who owned property) were granted the right to vote in a federal election. But the play is not only of significance because of its historical context. That this play 100 years later draws this kind of crowd, clearly suggests a more fundamental message between the lines of the script.
The Temple of Fame play represents more than simply re-enactment of a historical production in the community of Aurora. In essence the Temple of Fame play asks us to reflect on the progress of women’s rights over a century ago and challenges us to consider if we have yet arrived at where we think we should be as a society and a nation—and if the answer is not yet—then are we clear on what we need to do next?
This topic is deeply personal to me as I have had a very demanding career by choosing to follow a non-traditional path. I chose to be an Air cadet, attend RMC, be an officer in the Air Force; build large systems at IBM and design Aircraft assembly lanes for leading Aircraft at Bombardier. I didn’t actually know I was choosing a path that would present challenges because I was a women—I didn’t know women couldn’t do math, shouldn’t be promoted because I was only going to have children or that be a future leader in serving my country would be a constrain because of my gender. I want all who came after me to have the freedom to choose whatever career path they want and to be successful.
I would like to thank the Aurora Museum and Archives for sharing this remarkable piece of our community’s history and allowing us celebrate as a community. A special thank you to Shawna White and Michelle Johnson for your hard work and dedication in producing the play. As well, thank you to Corrie Clark for rewriting the play with a modern twist.
To the cast, crew and everyone else involved in the production, thank you for your commitment, dedication, and for making the production possible by bringing forth the vision of the play. CAN I SAY BREAK A LEG?!
Remember we have been entrusted with a sacred responsibility of furthering the contributions made by the women who came before us, and to inspire the women who will come after us, to envision a bold future and stop at nothing to realize it and claim their place in history.