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The Workman's Wife on Stage!

A project by: Ronja Siljander


WE RAISED £1,890

from 24 donors

This project received donations on Thu 01 Oct 2020
The laws and justice were devastating for an alcoholic's wife in Minna Canth's play from 1885.

the workman's wife by minna canth

For her final MFA Theatre Directing project at East 15 Acting School, Ronja Siljander and her Company are raising money for their production of 'The Workman's Wife' by Minna Canth. The Company will rehearse and perform the production as theatres across the UK carefully re-emerge from lockdown and re-open. We are looking for financial support to be able to focus on our professional roles and to be active artists in these challenging times. The experiences of the last months have shown us the importance of culture and art and contextualized them into a broader scope. As artists we raise questions about society and create new truths. We hope our journey does not end with our scheduled premiere and the run in October. Our aim is to raise funds to be able to market, sell and share the production for further purposes.

The Workman’s Wife is a painful and bitter story about the powerful grip the male gender held over their wives in the late 19th century Finland. At that time, a married woman became their husband’s property. The play closely portrays Johanna, the wife, who after her and Ridge’s wedding ceremony is forced to confront the outsider Roma woman Homsantuu he was once engaged to. Ridge had abandoned Homsantuu over Johanna’s financial possession and looks. After a heavy mental duel the pressure of the society wins, and she stays loyal to her happy-go-lucky living husband who is slowly becoming an alcoholic with the help of her little savings. When Johanna grows weaker because of the work load she needs to do to get some bread on the table, Ridge finds it appropriate to take advantage of that other wretched woman he once betrayed. Anything for another pint. And besides, what is the harm for a man to fool a pretty girl or two?

Who are we?

The Company of The Workman's Wife consists of several graduates and current students of Greater London leading drama schools (East 15 Acting School, The American Musical Theatre Academy of London & Fourth Monkey). The Company aims to work with international, gender-equal and artistically ambitious artists to produce high quality European drama and to deliver it to a wider British audience with the voices of today's young adults. This production is our journey to setting up a professional theatre company to frame our strong work in the future.

why this story?

Minna Canth is often considered the ‘first Finnish female author’ and stays to be quoted as the mother of Finnish literature. In her plays she criticised social evils, as she did in many other of her stories and novellas. The publication of The Workman's Wife marked the beginning of fanatical 'book wars' - and outright witch-hunts - which conservative Fennoman and Church circles kept up for the rest of the 19th century in opposition to Canth's works. The central theme of The Workman’s Wife concerns the laws, customs, and habits that govern human life. The play poses the question of women’s rights and talks about inequality of gender and race with the voice of late 19th century. Canth’s play speaks a louder truth about society, morality and laws. The context and time during which she wrote the play needs to be understood from the point of view of today’s society in relation to the society that was: the times have changed but there is yet so much to be done.

  • The inequality of gender can be read as inequality of culture, and culture is on the other hand represented by every individual upholding the contract of the society.
  • The question of unfair share of responsibilities is inevitable in the play. Harassment and oppression of gender and ethnicity needs to stop. We stand proud supporting the movements that urge the equality of gender and ethnicity forward.
  • Conscious work needs to be done to level the field for everyone, so that differences in social status or income don't affect opportunities one has access to and the respect one earns from society.
  • The lack of women’s rights is the fault in the story of The Workman’s Wife. When the audience witnesses the injustice faced by both Johanna and Homsantuu, the two leading protagonist women in the play, we must apply that sense of injustice to the truths we observe and sustain further today, in theatre and in our everyday lives. Hiding isn't an option anymore.
  • Next to its pronounced strong style of heightened realism, the vocabulary of physical theatre tells a story its own about the physical and mental pressure the working class faced to make a living - how devastating the pressure of society turns out to be if you’re representing the underdog side of the story, in this case, a wife.

More about Minna Canth in National Biography of Finland

The teaser poster created with Canva. Photo: Unsplash.

Where will the money go?

  • With the minimum pledges we'll be able to pay the actors with a basis of £100/actor for their contribution (with the cast of eight that'll be £800 in total) and we can afford a good bunch of material for marketing and visuals (£250 for posters, flyers, leaflets and additional surprise merchandise!). We all wish to be able to take into account the valuable work emerging artists do, way too often pro bono. If any promotional material does not cost us so much, we pledge to us the money towards hiring photography and video professional(s), as mentioned below in the target breakdown.
  • If we reach our target, the pledges will firstly go to pay the actors contributing to the production with a basis of £10/work day per actor (£1440 in total).
  • Secondly, we'll be looking forward to use the above-mentioned £250 for marketing and visuals.
  • Thirdly, The Company is also looking forward to using some donations in hiring a video producer & editor to produce a trailer for later marketing and selling purposes with approximately £150-£200 and hiring a professional photographer to take production photos with approximately £100.
  • This plan will bring us to our target of £2000!
  • Additional donations that go over the target/that are leftover after the above-mentioned when using our funds wisely, will be used either to pay more to the actors, reward the creative team or to promote and market our show further, as negotiated fairly in the ensemble.
  • The Company pledges to share the journey of the crowdfunding and the donations with updates both in our Click campaign and our social media channels. We also pledge to follow and respect the Corona virus guidelines for performing arts provided by the Government. 
  • East 15 Acting School (Loughton Campus) kindly offers the rehearsal space and the venue for the Company's use.


  • We have a brilliant and wide variety of different sort of rewards, from VIP tickets to space for promoting companies that support us financially. Or maybe you'd like to have everything we can offer to our sponsors? Check out our rewards and choose your way of contributing!

Help us to get the visibility we need!

  • Follow the journey of our production in Instagram @theworkmanswife! We are also looking forward to setting up a website. Stay tuned and we'll keep you updated!
  • The project aims higher than just its initial length of run: we are looking forward to having all the visibility we can get to promote the production, the important message of the play and our cast! Help us get the visibility we need to take part in fringe festivals, make it to London's venues and put up an official theatre company.
  • Please share this project with anyone you think would support us – on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, phone calls or on the grapevine.
  • The times have proven the power of sharing through social media! You don't always need money to contribute.