Skip to main content

The National Arts Centre is adapting Ann-Marie MacDonald's Fall on Your Knees for the stage.John Hryniuk/The Globe and Mail

A theatre adaptation of Ann-Marie MacDonald’s internationally acclaimed novel Fall on Your Knees is set to hit four cities next year.

The National Arts Centre says the book-to-stage show will visit Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax and London, Ont., beginning in 2023.

A decade in the making, the production is a partnership involving NAC’s English Theatre in Ottawa, Canadian Stage in Toronto, Grand Theatre in London and Neptune Theatre in Halifax, as well as the independent theatre development company Vita Brevis Arts.

Vita Brevis Arts founder Alisa Palmer will direct and is adapting the novel with playwright Hannah Moscovitch. Casting will be announced in the coming months.

Published in 1996, Fall on Your Knees 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, N.Y., and into the lives of four sisters.

NAC says the performance will be presented in two parts, over the course of two evenings. Ticket and schedule information will be announced in each theatre company’s 2022–2023 season announcements.

MacDonald said her earliest thoughts about the novel’s story were entwined with the stage.

“‘Fall On Your Knees’ began, in my mind, as a play. This makes sense because I was, and am, a playwright,” MacDonald said Thursday in a release.

“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.”

Palmer said she was inspired to adapt the novel as a “piece of music-driven theatre” 10 years ago when she first approached Moscovitch.

“The story, beloved and disturbing, painful and joyful, speaks all the more urgently now,” said Palmer.

Moscovitch said a lot of work has gone into figuring out “how to transform a book – an object you can hold in your hands – into a temporal-spacial event.”

“We wanted our adaptation to be a work of art, and not just render the book onto the stage,” Moscovitch said in the same release.

“That meant we needed a rigorous collaboration between all the artists working on the adaptation to make the show a music-driven, image-driven, and story-driven experience.”

Sign up for The Globe’s arts and lifestyle newsletters for more news, columns and advice in your inbox.

This content appears as provided to The Globe by the originating wire service. It has not been edited by Globe staff.