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Actors Samantha Hill and Amaka Umed star in the theatre production of Fall On Your Knees.DAHLIA KATZ/The Canadian Press

Like most Canadian cultural observers, I was pleased Tuesday morning to hear the Oscars news that director Sarah Polley has picked up nominations for Best Picture nomination Best Adapted Screenplay for Women Talking, her film based on Miriam Toews’s 2018 novel of the same name.

Canlit has proved to be great source material for Polley, who scored her first Oscar nomination back in 2008 for the screenplay of Away From Her, which she adapted from an Alice Munro short story.

But Canadian books are just hot IP right now in general. Indeed, in the theatre, a host of new adaptations are helping get bums back in seats as the pandemic intermission recedes.

I just returned from Vancouver where I saw the world premiere of Forgiveness, a stage adaptation of Mark Sakamoto’s Canada Reads-winning memoir about his grandparents.

While I liked it, audiences are liking it even more based on the e-mail I’ve been getting chiding me for not being more enthusiastic in my review; according to the Arts Club, Hiro Kanagawa’s play is exceeding its box office expectations for a new work. (It heads to Theatre Calgary next.)

This week, I’ll be at Canadian Stage in Toronto seeing the world premiere of Fall on Your Knees, a new two-part stage adaptation of Ann-Marie MacDonald’s blockbuster 1996 novel.

The length of the show (penned by playwright Hannah Moscovitch) does not seem to be deterring audiences; in fact, some performances in the 867-seat Bluma Appel are already sold out for its two-week run in Toronto, which comes ahead of a tour to Ottawa, Halifax and London, Ont.

“We are encouraging people to book tickets this week and weekend, as next week will likely sell out entirely,” Canadian Stage executive director Monica Esteves says in an e-mail. (My review won’t be out until this weekend; critics are invited Thursday and Friday.)

The real runaway hit Canlit adaptation right now, however, is Marie Farsi’s take on André Alexis’s Giller Prize winner, Fifteen Dogs – which was extended at Crow’s Theatre by a week to Feb. 12 after selling out the first weeks of its run even before it got rave reviews. You’re running out of time to get a ticket; they’re almost all gone.

“This show has broken all box office records in the history of Crow’s Theatre,” says the theatre company’s director of marketing and communications, Carrie Sager, noting there’s now interest in a tour coming from across the country.

Could Fifteen Dogs go even further than that? Well, you never know where a Canlit page-to-stage project might end up.

On Monday, it was announced that Room, Emma Donoghue’s British-born stage adaptation of her novel of the same name, with songs by Kathryn Joseph and Cora Bissett, is headed to Broadway this spring. It was seen in London, Ont., at the Grand Theatre and Toronto through Mirvish Productions last spring.

When it lands on Broadway, Room will be joining Life of Pi, an adaptation of Yann Martel’s Booker Prize winner by Lolita Chakrabarti (Red Velvet) that also started life in Britain (where its West End production won multiple Olivier Awards) and is currently in Cambridge, Mass., ahead of its March opening on the Great White Way.

Those two mega-hit Canlit books have already been adapted into films that were nominated for Oscars in 2015 and 2012, respectively. Now there’s a real possibility their stage version might be facing off at the Tony Awards in 2023.

A recommendation of sorts

Girls and Boys, a one-woman show by British playwright Dennis Kelly, opens at Crow’s Theatre this week, running Jan. 26 to Feb. 12. Director Lucy Jane Atkinson production starring Fiona Mongillo previously was seen at the Here for Now festival in Stratford.

The show is a love story that turns into a horror story based on real events that happen all too often. Mongillo gave a crisp, clinical performance in Stratford that I will never forget – and half-wish I could. I don’t consider myself all that squeamish, but I nearly passed out in my seat and had to cover my ears for part of the monologue.

Other shows opening this week across Canada

Pressure, a play about meteorology and D-Day, is being presented by Mirvish Productions at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto from Jan. 24 to March 5. This is the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh and Chicester Festival Theatre production, and it stars Kevin Doyle, an English actor who was on Downton Abbey as a heroic weatherman. (Look for The Globe and Mail’s review next week.)

The Extinction Therapist, a new play by Clem Martini about a support group for those about to be wiped out, hits the stage at Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton from Jan. 25 to Feb. 11. Sounds like some Shavian shenanigans; I’m intrigued by the casting of Rebecca Northan as a woolly mammoth and Anand Rajaram as a smallpox virus.

Pandora, a new solo show written and performed by Stratford Festival ensemble stand-out Jessica B. Hill, is having its world premiere at Prairie Theatre Exchange in Winnipeg under the direction of Rodrigo Beilfuss (AD of co-producer Shakespeare in the Ruins) from Jan. 25 to Feb. 12. The description is nebulous (“It has something to do with ancient Greece, quantum physics, the meaning of theatre … and weasels”), but Hill is always worth a watch.

Lolling and Rolling, Belgian-based South Korean artist Jaha Koo’s show about linguistic imperialism in his home country, is at Usine C in Montreal from Jan. 24-26. I just saw it at PuSh in Vancouver and recommended the quirky, cool performance piece on Twitter. It’s presented with both English and French surtitles in Montreal.

There are many other appealing, boundary-pushing shows opening PuSh this week and next, but I’ve written about that for the paper. Look for my picks of what to see before the festival ends on February as well as my report from its first week online soon.