Stage Door News
Toronto: The stage adaptation of Ann-Marie MacDonald’s “Fall on Your Knees” runs January 20-February 5, 2023
Thursday, December 8, 2022
This January, Canadian Stage is proud to present the history-making two-part stage adaptation of author Ann-Marie MacDonald’s internationally acclaimed and best-selling novel FALL ON YOUR KNEES, on stage at the Bluma Appel Theatre January 20 – February 5, 2023.
Produced by the National Arts Centre English Theatre, Vita Brevis Arts, Canadian Stage, the Grand Theatre and Neptune Theatre, the World Premiere of the stage adaptation of FALL ON YOUR KNEES is the fruit of an unprecedented partnership between five companies, bringing this momentous production first to Toronto, then to London, Ottawa, and Halifax, beginning January 2023.
“We are incredibly excited to have the honour of presenting the World Premiere of this legacy production at Canadian Stage,” says Artistic Director Brendan Healy. “One of the many reasons we wanted to join in the collaboration to bring this work to life, is the way in which Ann-Marie and then Alisa and Hannah after her, have centered marginalized narratives – stories about women, homosexuality, and interracial relationships – into a historical framework. They are claiming a national platform for these stories and redefining what a Canadian story looks like, and they are doing so on an inspiring scale. This is truly the birth of a new Canadian classic.”
Ann-Marie MacDonald’s first novel, FALL ON YOUR KNEES is a sweeping work of historical fiction that chronicles three generations of Cape Breton Island’s Piper family. The story moves from the battlefields of the First World War to the emerging jazz scene in Harlem, NY, and into the lives of four unforgettable sisters.
The stage adaptation is co-created by renowned theatre artists Alisa Palmer –who directs the production– and playwright Hannah Moscovitch, who developed the work over the course of a decade together. Inspired to create a work in which music and narrative would be intimately woven, the pair invited composer Sean Mayes to join their collaboration. Through the NAC's National Creation Fund, they were able to expand the scale of development of the novel from page to stage with artistic workshops. This powerful creative team have then assembled an equally exemplary cast to bring the work to life, including Tim Campbell, Janelle Cooper, Diane Flacks, Eva Foote, Deborah Hay, Samantha Hill, Drew Moore, Tony Ofori, Cara Rebecca, Maryem Tollar, Amaka Umeh, Dakota Jamal Wellman, Jenny L Wright, Antoine Yared.
“Ten years ago, I was inspired to adapt FALL ON YOUR KNEES as a piece of music-driven theatre. The story, beloved and disturbing, painful and joyful, speaks all the more urgently now,” says Palmer. “I’m incredibly fortunate to be collaborating with the brilliant Hannah Moscovitch and Sean Mayes. They, along with all the artists who have made up a formidable creative team over the past decade, ensure that FALL ON YOUR KNEES will speak as powerfully from the stage as it has from the page.”
“Seeing FALL ON YOUR KNEES brought to fruition as a piece of theatre is the fulfillment of a process that began long ago when I first started writing what would become the novel. FALL ON YOUR KNEES began, in my mind, as a play. This makes sense because I was, and am, a playwright,” says Ann-Marie MacDonald. “I ended up bringing the story to light as a novel, but I’ve always cherished the vision of it as a three-dimensional experience for a live audience. I am so grateful to all the incredibly talented artists, especially Hannah Moscovitch and Alisa Palmer, for boldly and beautifully bringing it to life.”
Released in 1996, MacDonald’s novel won multiple awards, including the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book; the Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction; CBA Libris People's Choice Award and the CBA Libris Award for Fiction Book of the Year. The novel was also a finalist for a number of prestigious literary awards, including the Giller Prize, the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Trillium Book Award, the Orange Prize for Fiction, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and was selected for the hugely popular Oprah’s Book Club.
Joining Palmer, Moscovitch, and Hayes on the creative team of this benchmark production are associate director Cherissa Richards, choreographer Natasha Powell, associate choreographers Hollywood Jade and Tereka Tyler-Davis, set designer Camillia Koo, costume designer Judith Bowden, associate costume designer Joyce Padua, lighting designer Leigh Ann Vardy, sound designer Brian Kenny, associate music supervisor Douglas Price, fight and sexual choreographer Anita Nittoly, and dramaturg Mel Hague.
FALL ON YOUR KNEES is presented in two parts, allowing audiences to enjoy two extraordinary evenings at the theatre. Tickets for FALL ON YOUR KNEES (Parts One & Two) range from $29-$99. The production runs from January 20 – February 4, 2023, with performances at 8:00pm Tuesday – Saturday, 2:00pm matinees Saturdays and Sundays, and a 1:00PM matinee (Part Two) on Wednesday February 1. For more information and tickets visit www.canadianstage.com.
Following Canadian Stage, FALL ON YOUR KNEES will be at the Neptune Theatre in Halifax, February 10 – March 5, the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, March 8 – 25, and the Grand Theatre in London, March 29 – April 2.
Illustration: Cover of Fall on Your Knees, Vintage Canada, 1996.