Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Classic Fall On Your Knees Arrives at the NAC with a Momentous Two-Part Production

Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Classic Fall On Your Knees Arrives at the NAC with a Momentous Two-Part Production
Hit Stage Adaptation Lands in Ottawa as Third Stop in Four City Tour 

Ottawa – March 6, 2023 Fall On Your Knees… will bring you to your feet.” - J. Kelly Nestruck, Globe and Mail

Following successful runs in Toronto and Halifax, NAC English Theatre 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, from March 10 – 25.

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 the previously mentioned Toronto and Halifax, before arriving in Ottawa, and then finishing in London, ON.

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.

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 Mayes 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. The production runs from March 10 - 25, 2023


For more information and showtimes, please visit:
Part One – Family Tree:
Part Two – The Diary:

A National Arts Centre, Vita Brevis Arts, Canadian Stage, Neptune Theatre, Grand Theatre production

Adaptation for the stage by Alisa Palmer and Hannah Moscovitch

Co-created and Written by Hannah Moscovitch

Co-created and Directed by Alisa Palmer

Production Dramaturgy by Mel Hague

Based on the Novel by Ann-Marie MacDonald
Music Supervisor and Composer Sean Mayes 
Featuring: 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, Musicians Douglas Price (Conductor, piano, accordion), Anna Atkinson (Violin, accordion), Spencer Murray (Flutes, reeds, pipes), Maryem Tollar (Vocals, qanun, oud, percussion).
Associate Director Cherissa Richards, Choreographer Natasha Powell, Associate Choreographer Hollywood Jade, Associate Choreographer Tereka Tyler-Davis, Set Designer Camillia Koo, Costume Designer Judith Bowden, Lighting Designer Leigh Ann Vardy, Sound Designer Brian Kenny, Associate Music Supervisor Douglas Price, Fight & Sexual Choreographer Anita Nittoly, Dramaturg Mel Hague, Dialect Coach Jane Gooderham, Disability Consultant Yousef Kadoura, Stage Manager Michael Hart, Assistant Stage Manager Sarah Miller, Apprentice Stage Manager (Rehearsal and Toronto) Ciaran Brenneman, Apprentice Stage Manager (Halifax, Ottawa, London) Ciaran Brenneman.


The National Arts Centre Foundation wishes to extend its heartfelt thanks to two of Canada’s greatest theatre champions: NAC Foundation board member Margaret Fountain, C.M., D.F.A. (hc), D.H.L.(hc) and her husband David Fountain, C.M. of Halifax. Their generous leadership support has helped to bring this acclaimed Canadian story to stages across the country.


The National Creation Fund’s investment of $200,000 supported a new approach to translating the novel from page to stage, with significant time dedicated to exploring non-literal, theatrical ways to capture and embody the power of the story.  The Fund’s support also made the final two development workshops possible. 

The National Arts Centre Foundation would like to thank NAC English Theatre Lead Donor, The Slaight Family Foundation, and Official Hotel Partner, Embassy Hotel & Suites. Special thank you to the Dr. Kanta Marwah Endowment for English Theatre.


The National Arts Centre is Canada’s bilingual, multi-disciplinary home for the performing arts. The NAC presents, creates, produces, and co-produces performing arts programming in various streams — the NAC Orchestra, Dance, English Theatre in collaboration with Black Theatre Workshop, French Theatre, Indigenous Theatre, and Popular Music and Variety — and nurtures the next generation of audiences and artists from across Canada. The NAC is located in the National Capital Region on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe.


Vita Brevis Arts (VBA) was founded by Alisa Palmer to support the development of unusual theatre projects, aimed for larger spaces and audiences. VBA was created to support projects that are ambitious in scope, urgent in content and that have the capacity to speak to diverse audiences in a highly theatrical and sensually rich language. Inclusive and artistically excellent storytelling is at the heart of VBA's mission. In practice, VBA partners with established theatre companies and helps to realize projects that may be outside the box: to curate artist - driven development processes outside traditional development models, and which require sensitivity to culturally specific material. VBA is comprised of producers Alisa Palmer, Paul Beauchamp, and Patricia Cerra.


Canadian Stage is one of the country’s leading contemporary performing arts organizations. A collision of disciplines and cultures, Canadian Stage reflects the dynamism and complexity of Canada and is a vital artistic force locally, nationally, and internationally. In its over thirty-year history, Canadian Stage has employed thousands of artists and developed and produced hundreds of new productions. Many of the plays developed by Canadian Stage have been awarded and nominated for Canada's most prestigious literary and performing arts honours, including Governor General's, Chalmers, and Dora Mavor Moore Awards. Throughout the theatre season, nearly 100,000 patrons attend performances and workshops in its three Toronto venues.


Under the leadership of Artistic Director Dennis Garnhum and Executive Director Deb Harvey, the Grand Theatre (the Grand) is a leading cultural hub located in the heart of downtown London, Ontario. The not-for-profit regional theatre offers diverse, relevant, and original stories from around the globe through collaborations with national and international performing arts organizations. The Grand is committed to developing, producing, and premiering original stories through its COMPASS New Play Development program. Further, it is an ardent supporter of educational programming, as demonstrated through initiatives like the High School Project and Subsidized Student Matinees.


Neptune Theatre is Atlantic Canada’s regional theatre, now in its 59th season. On our stages you’ll experience theatre that is uplifting and thought-provoking. Working with the best local, regional, and Canadian theatre professionals, we seek to present a thought-provoking playbill that amplifies creative voices, inspires future generations of theatre artists, and delights audiences.  With a mindful and inclusive approach, we are committed to bringing stories that represent the history and diversity of our region and its people to life on our stages. The work created and presented at Neptune explores our rich history and diversity, builds understanding, and shapes dialogue, helping to create a stronger, connected community.


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