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World Premiere of Ann-Marie McDonald's FALL ON YOUR KNEES & More Announced for Canadian Stage 2022-2023 Season

This season will also feature the Toronto Premiere of Academy Award-winner Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Choir Boy, and more.

World Premiere of Ann-Marie McDonald's FALL ON YOUR KNEES & More Announced for Canadian Stage 2022-2023 Season

Canadian Stage will lift the curtain today on an unabashedly ambitious 15-show season for 22.23, presenting exceptional performance from Canada and around the world, celebrating large-scale, theatrical spectacle alongside intimate and provocative social commentary.

The first full season for the company since 2019, 22.23 programming platforms diverse dramatic approaches, cultures, and points of view, united by the common thread of illuminating humanity at the crossroads of the current moment.

"This season excites me for so many reasons," says Canadian Stage Artistic Director Brendan Healy. "Our 22.23 programming offers a picture of where we are at right now as a society - there is an immediacy to this collection of works that grapple in different ways with discussions about race, climate, and political divisiveness that are dominating global conversations right now. These are all big plays, be it in scale, in content, or in formal presentation."

Healy continues, "It is an ambitious season that expresses real confidence in the state of the theatrical form -these artists unequivocally demonstrate that live performance is thriving, relevant and absolutely essential."

"The 22.23 season marks a meaningful return to Canadian Stage's mission at scale," adds Canadian Stage Executive Director Monica Esteves. "We are presenting some of the most innovative and energizing work in recent years from around the world, while also foregrounding Canadian artists and situating them within a global context. We are particularly proud of our collaboration in the commissioning of the two-part adaptation of FALL ON YOUR KNEES - a Canadian story sweepingly told on a big stage. With this season we are undoubtedly stating our confidence in the return of live theatre."

ON THE BLUMA STAGE


The Bluma Appel takes centre stage this season, hosting four wondrously theatrical large-scale productions. In November, Canadian Stage presents the highly anticipated Toronto premiere of Academy Award-winning screenwriter of MOONLIGHT, Tarell Alvin McCraney's CHOIR BOY. A coming-of-age play woven through with rapturous gospel hymns, CHOIR BOY follows the story of prep school senior Pharus, the leader of the school's celebrated gospel choir, as he wrestles with his masculinity and sexuality. An unmissable theatrical event this fall, CHOIR BOY is a love letter to the healing power of music.

"CHOIR BOY is an exquisitely crafted story interwoven with exhilarating gospel music, that presents a thoughtful examination of Black masculinity and the search for identity," says Healy. "McCraney is one of the best playwrights in the US right now and this play is joyously entertaining, while it also challenges perspectives - it's a fantastic beginning to the Bluma line-up."

In January, the World Premiere of a historical epic alights to the Bluma stage. In partnership with the National Arts Centre, Vita Brevis Arts, Neptune Theatre, and the Grand Theatre, Canadian Stage presents a two-part adaptation of Ann-Marie McDonald's historical saga, following three generations of a Cape Breton Island family from the first World War through to the Harlem jazz age. Published in 1996, FALL ON YOUR KNEES - McDonald's iconic breakthrough novel - was an international best-seller and an Oprah Book Club selection. This mythic Canadian story is adapted into an unprecedented duo of plays by two extraordinary artists: Hannah Moscovitch and Alisa Palmer. An unmissable moment in Canadian theatre and the birth of a new classic.

"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."

In February, the influential Belgian company Ontroerend Goed stages the Canadian Premiere of their juggernaut international hit Are we not drawn onward to new erA in an exclusive three-night, 4-show engagement. A stunning visual metaphor for a world on the verge of environmental collapse, this palindromic masterwork is by turns playful, surprising, hilarious, and heartbreaking.

AT THE BERKELEY


Kicking off the season this fall at the Berkeley Street Theatre, in September Brendan Healy directs the highly anticipated English-language premiere of Siminovitch Prize winner Olivier Choinière's provocative PUBLIC ENEMY, in a Canadian Stage commissioned translation by Bobby Theodore. Inviting audiences to a family dinner as never seen before, PUBLIC ENEMY positions the global chasm of political polarization within a quotidian and domestic milieu.

"PUBLIC ENEMY is a play about polarization and the way that our interpersonal relationships are falling victim to the energy of the world right now," says Healy. "It speaks immediately to the here and now and does so within a highly naturalistic approach and a very innovative and theatrically exciting contemporary structure. Choinière is one of the most energizing playwrights working in Quebec right now and we are excited to bring his work to English Canada."

For the holiday season beloved Canadian Stage favourite Ronnie Burkett returns to the Berkeley with a new, adults-only tradition for the season, LITTLE DICKENS. With a new spin on the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, The Daisy Theatre's faded Diva Esmé Massengill takes on the miserly Ésme Scrooge, in an improvised marionette mash-up to make the season bright.

In the new year, ongoing partners Red Sky Performance return with their fourth collaboration with Canadian Stage, MIIGIS: UNDERWATER PANTHER. Revealing the power of nature and Indigenous prophecy, MIIGIS fuses contemporary Indigenous dance and extraordinary athleticism. A striking work from one of Canada's leading contemporary Indigenous performance companies, originally scheduled in the 2020-2021 season, Canadian Stage is thrilled to finally share this magical dance work.

Ongoing partners Obsidian Theatre Company also join the season as coproducers of what will undoubtedly be one of the distinct highlights of the year, the Canadian Premiere of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize-winner for Drama, Jackie Sibblies Drury's FAIRVIEW. A radical examination of power, interrogating race, surveillance, and theatre itself, the New York Times called the play, "a glorious, scary reminder of the unmatched power of live theatre to rattle, roil, and shake us wide awake."

Concluding the Berkeley season in April, Canadian Stage partners with Blue Bird Theatre Collective for MAANOMAA, MY BROTHER, created by Tawiah M'Carthy, Brad Cook, and Anne-Marie Donovan. A story of two friends reuniting in Ghana for the funeral of a loved one, MAANOMAA, MY BROTHER blends West African and Canadian theatrical approaches, entwining myth with reality and past with present.

CS PLATFORM and GUEST COMPANY PRESENTATIONS


Canadian Stage is very excited to bring back CS Platform for the 22.23 season. This series is designed to introduce audiences to some of the world's most vanguard artists who are pushing at the boundaries of the artform. In the fall, internationally lauded trans visual artist Cassils brings their first contemporary dance work to Canadian Stage, HUMAN MEASURE. A Montréal born artist now residing in Los Angeles, Cassils has risen to global recognition using their own body as the material and protagonist of their performances. Working in live performance, sculpture, photography, sound design and film, Cassils contemplates the history(s) of LGBTQI+ violence, representation, struggle, and power. In HUMAN MEASURE Cassils builds upon their knowledge of kinesiology, martial arts, and sports science to reinterpret Yves Kline's Anthropometries paintings, creating a dance that culminates in the development of a cyanotype photograph of bodies exposed in Klein blue.

In February, dance Immersion and Canadian Stage co-present CABARET NOIR, from Montréal's Mélanie Demers. A rising star from Montreal dance, Demers work combines theatricality, literature, music, and the visual arts, to explore the connection between the poetic and the political. CABARET NOIR takes inspiration from the storied jazz-era Black cabaret club in Paris, Le Bal Nègre, and references pop cultural representations of Blackness, to explore an embodied reality of Blackness that includes centuries of mythology laden within the concept.

"CS Platform is a crucial way for Canadian Stage to contribute to the performance ecology of our city by showcasing some of the most important and adventurous artists of today," says Healy. "Both Cassils and Mélanie Demers's works are formally innovative, politically charged, and deeply personal. Together, they present a snapshot of some of the most exciting work happening at the cutting-edge of contemporary performance."

Continuing the company's long-standing commitment to elevating and supporting complementary partner organizations, three invited guest productions complete the 22.23 programming.

The Musical Stage Company returns with KELLY v. KELLY, a new Canadian musical from two of Canada's leading young musical talents, Britta Johnson, and Sara Farb. Inspired by true events, KELLY v. KELLY takes audiences back in time to 1915 for a scandalous battle between a mother and daughter. Necessary Angel Theatre presents NEW, by Pamela Mala Sinha - the story of a Bengali bride arriving to join an Indian family in the Midwest and causing tradition and counterculture to collide. Lastly, Théâtre français de Toronto presents UN. DEUX. TROIS. by Mani Soleymanlou, a trilogy that begins with a single person's quest for identity and evolves to bring over 40 performers from across Canada to the stage.

"Our Berkeley Street theatres have been a second home to many, many arts groups and organizations over the decades," says Esteves. "Post-pandemic, we continue this tradition of collaboration with renewed vigor, formalizing multi-year existing and new partnerships with Red Sky Performance, Théâtre français de Toronto, Obsidian Theatre, Musical Stage Company, Blue Bird Collective, Necessary Angel Theatre, and others. Every corner of our facilities will be operating at full capacity next season, buzzing with the creativity and energy of our collective work and explorations. It is an honour to work with our esteemed and remarkable colleagues and communities."

Tickets for the 22.23 season will go on sale to Canadian Stage renewing subscribers on May 3, 2022. New subscriptions will go on sale on July 11, 2022, and single tickets will go on sale on July 26, 2022

Canadian Stage 22.23 Season


PUBLIC ENEMY (English-language Premiere)


A Canadian Stage production
September 20 - October 2 at the Berkeley Street Theatre

By Olivier Choinière
Translated and Adapted by Bobby Theodore
Directed by Brendan Healy

In the blistering Public Enemy, the always subversive, Siminovitch Prize-winning playwright, Olivier Choinière, invites you to a family dinner unlike any you've attended before-a familiar setting with a surreal twist.

Directed in its Canadian English-language premiere by Artistic Director Brendan Healy, Public Enemy is full of wit, rapid-fire dialogue, and elements of the fantastical.


CHOIR BOY (Toronto Premiere)


A Canadian Stage and Arts Club Theatre co-production
November 8 - 19 at the Bluma Appel Theatre

By Tarell Alvin McCraney

Tony Award Winner
New York Times Critic's Pick


From the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of Moonlight comes the Broadway hit Choir Boy, a coming-of-age play threaded through with rapturous gospel hymns.

Pharus is a senior at the Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys, and the proud leader of its legendary gospel choir. The prestigious school is committed to building 'strong, ethical Black men,' but conforming to their traditions becomes harder as he learns to accept his identity as a young gay man. Weighing reconciliation and rebellion, Choir Boy is a love letter to the healing power of music, featuring gorgeously sung a cappella hymns.


LITTLE DICKENS


A Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes Production presented by Canadian Stage
November 23 - December 18 at the Berkeley Street Theatre

In this raucous, adults-only holiday treat, the cast of The Daisy Theatre take on the beloved holiday classic, A Christmas Carol for the merriest marionette mash-up ever.

Faded diva, Esmé Massengill, plays the role of miserly, drunken, bitter Esmé Scrooge, in Burkett's retelling of the Dickens classic. As always with an improvised Daisy show, there is no set script, and in Esmé Scrooge's journey toward redemption, she encounters all the Daisy favourites portraying Dickens' familiar characters.


FALL ON YOUR KNEES Part 1: FAMILY TREE - Part 2: THE DIARY (World Premiere)


A National Arts Centre, Vita Brevis Arts, Canadian Stage, Neptune Theatre, Grand Theatre production
January 20 - February 5 at the Bluma Appel Theatre

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

Oprah Book Club Selection

For the first time ever, Ann-Marie Macdonald's iconic masterpiece is reinvented for the stage, in an epic two-part theatrical event.

From the battlefields of the First World War to the incandescent Harlem jazz scene, Fall On Your Knees tells the sweeping story of Cape Breton Island's Piper family over three generations.

This internationally acclaimed saga weaves the story of four unforgettable sisters, whose loves, sins, secrets, and redemptions are revealed in breathtaking twists and turns. Fast-paced, music-driven, and vast in scale, Fall On Your Knees is highly anticipated, and not to be missed.


MIIGIS: UNDERWATER PANTHER


A Red Sky Performance Production presented by Canadian Stage
January 21 - 29 at the Berkeley Street Theatre

By Sandra Laronde

Miigis reveals the power of nature and Indigenous prophecy. In Anishnaabe culture, the miigis shell represents the "the perfect breath" of life that informs the origin story of our passage from the Atlantic Coast to the Great Lakes. Fusing contemporary Indigenous dance with athleticism in an extraordinary form, Miigis explores the catalysts for movement, memory, water trade routes, ancestral forces, and the cycle of life.


Are we not drawn onward to new erA (Canadian Premiere)
An Ontroerend Goed Production presented by Canadian Stage
February 9 - 11 at the Bluma Appel Theatre

The influential Belgian company Ontroerend Goed visits Toronto for four shows only with a conceptually daring, visually stunning performance of environmental apocalypse - with a twist.

The palindromic - in title and form - Are we not drawn onward to new erA presents a visual metaphor for this crucial moment in our future history. This incredibly inventive performance is both playful and surprising; hilarious and heart-achingly beautiful.


FAIRVIEW (Canadian Premiere)


A Canadian Stage and Obsidian Theatre co-production
March 4 - 26 at the Berkeley Street Theatre

by Jackie Sibblies Drury

Pulitzer Prize Winner


After its stunning sell-out NYC debut, Canadian Stage and Obsidian Theatre are proud to mount the first Canadian production of Jackie Sibblies Drury's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama.

In Fairview, the Frasier household is preparing for Grandma's birthday party, but not everything is as it seems. While Beverly holds on to her sanity by a thread, her sister can't be bothered to help, her brother is MIA, her husband doesn't seem to listen... and the party guests are more than unexpected. A radical examination of power, Fairview confronts notions of theatre, race, and surveillance.


MAANOMAA, MY BROTHER


A Blue Bird Theatre Collective and Canadian Stage co-production
April 11 - 30 in the Upstairs Theatre at Berkeley Street Theatre

When childhood friends Kwame and Will reunite in Ghana for the funeral of a loved one, they realize just how much has changed since the events that separated them 25 years earlier.

As they struggle with the urge to keep stories from the past buried and the desire to connect, resurfaced memories set them on a journey to discover a truth that neither of them expected. Blending styles of West African and Canadian theatre, Maanomaa, My Brother mixes myth with reality, and the past with the present.


CS PLATFORM


HUMAN MEASURE


By Cassils
October 27 - 29 at the Berkeley Street Theatre

Internationally lauded, multidisciplinary artist Cassils brings their first piece of contemporary dance to Canadian Stage for a limited engagement. Featuring all trans and non-binary performers, HUMAN MEASURE, weaves elements of kinesiology, martial arts, sports science, and photography into an examination where intersectional representations press back against narratives surrounding trans bodies and athleticism.


CABARET NOIR


Created by Mélanie Demers

A Mayday Danse Production, co-presented by dance Immersion and Canadian Stage
January 9 - 11 at the Berkeley Street Theatre

The cast of CABARET NOIR uses movement, dialogue, and music to reconstruct emblematic scenes from popular culture in a work that is both a celebration and resistance of concepts of "Blackness". The artists play with clichés, folklore, and prejudices, summoning the words of Frantz Fanon, Nina Simone, Dany Laferrière, and Spike Lee to illustrate that no external authority can define our identities.


GUESTS COMPANY PRODUCTIONS


Théâtre français de Toronto


UN. DEUX. TROIS.
An Orange Noyée Production in Association with Théâtre français de Toronto and Canadian Stage
October 13 - 16 at the Berkeley Street Theatre

Breathtaking in both scale and scope, Un. Deux. Trois.
is an epic trilogy that starts with a single person's quest for identity and evolves, over the three parts, to bring over 40 performers from across Canada to the stage in an act of collective intimacy that asks, "Who are we as Canadians today, and where do we want to go from here?"

Presented in French with English supertitles


Necessary Angel Theatre Company


NEW
A Necessary Angel Theatre production in association with Canadian Stage
April 25 - May 14 at the Berkeley Street Theatre

by Pamela Mala Sinha
The year is 1970 and the arrival of a Bengali bride to a small university town shakes up a tight-knit group of Indian immigrants, including the husband she's never met. Tradition and counterculture collide for three women and their husbands as their perceptions of identity, sexuality, and the meaning of freedom are challenged by the spirit - and actions - of this fearless young woman.


The Musical Stage Company


KELLY V KELLY
A Musical Stage Company production in association with Canadian Stage
Book by Sara Farb
Music & Lyrics by Britta Johnson
May 26 - June 18 at the Berkeley Street Theatre

Inspired by true events from 1915 in New York, Kelly V. Kelly reveals the story of a mother and daughter divided by passion, money and what it means to be a woman at a time of huge societal change. When a 19-year-old heiress becomes tangled in an affair with a seductive tango dancer, her distraught mother has her arrested and charged with incorrigibility, sparking a court case that scandalizes the nation.

Featuring an electrifying musical score and mesmeric choreography, the inaugural production of Kelly V. Kelly will take you inside the imaginations of two of Canada's most celebrated musical theatre forces.

ABOUT CANADIAN STAGE

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.



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