Ann-Marie MacDonald’s two-part “Fall On Your Knees” world premiere takes stage Jan 20 to Feb 5, 2023 (Toronto)
This January, Canadian Stage presents 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 in Toronto, January 20 – February 5, 2023. This stage adaptation is the combined partnership between five organizations, bringing this momentous production first to Toronto, then to London, Ottawa, and Halifax.
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 mythically charged Piper family—James, a father of intelligence and immense ambition, Materia, his Lebanese child-bride, and their daughters: Kathleen, a budding opera Diva; Frances, the incorrigible liar and hell-bent bad girl; Mercedes, obsessive Catholic and protector of the flock; and Lily, the adored invalid who takes us on a quest for truth and redemption—is supported by a richly textured cast of characters. Together they weave a tale of inescapable family bonds, of terrible secrets, of miracles, racial strife, attempted murder, birth and death, and forbidden love. Moving and finely written, Fall On Your Knees is by turns dark and hilariously funny, a story—and a world—that resonate long after the last page is turned.
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. Inspired to create a work in which music and narrative would be intimately woven, the pair invited composer Sean Mayes to join their collaboration.
“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.”
“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.”
FALL ON YOUR KNEES is presented in two parts, allowing audiences to enjoy two extraordinary evenings at the Bluma Appel Theatre, 26 Berkeley Street, Toronto.
Tickets for FALL ON YOUR KNEES (Parts One & Two) range from $29-$99. The production runs from January 20 – February 5, 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.
MacDonald also had a new play at Stratford this past season called Hamlet-911. and recently released her new novel, Fayne, inspired by the grand works of the Victorians, but urgent in its concerns about sex, identity and freedom. Fayne boasts all the splendour of the Victorian novels that inspired it—a hugely satisfying plot full of suspenseful twists, tensions born of secrets come shockingly to light, and sumptuous descriptions of an all-but-hidden house on a misty moor. Still, the novel is intensely modern in its concerns, exploring the cruel constraints imposed by sex, and the promise of genuine freedom embodied in more fluid conceptions of gender and identity. Ann-Marie calls FAYNE her queerest novel yet.
In the late nineteenth century, Charlotte Bell is growing up at Fayne, a vast and lonely estate straddling the border between England and Scotland, where she has been kept from the world by her adoring father, Lord Henry Bell, owing to a mysterious condition. Charlotte, strong and insatiably curious, revels in the moorlands, and has learned the treacherous and healing ways of the bog from the old hired man, Byrn, whose own origins are shrouded in mystery. Her idyllic existence is shadowed by the magnificent portrait on the landing in Fayne House which depicts her mother, a beautiful Irish-American heiress, holding Charlotte’s brother, Charles Bell. Charlotte has grown up with the knowledge that her mother died in giving birth to her, and that her older brother, Charles, the long-awaited heir, died soon afterwards at the age of two. When Charlotte’s appetite for learning threatens to exceed the bounds of the estate, her father breaks with tradition and hires a tutor to teach his daughter “as you would my son, had I one.” But when Charlotte and her tutor’s explorations of the bog turn up an unexpected artefact, her father announces he has arranged for her to be cured of her condition, and her world is upended. Charlotte’s passion for knowledge and adventure will take her to the bottom of family secrets and to the heart of her own identity.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.