Alice Munro co-production with Edinburgh International Book Festival announced

Nick Barley and Jemima Levick at The Vennel, Edinburgh with a view to Castle Rock

Stellar Quines with Edinburgh International Book Festival are delighted to announce the world premiere of a specially commissioned theatrical adaptation of Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro’s moving and enigmatic short stories.

Taken from the Canadian author’s short story collection and adapted for the stage by multi award-winning playwright, Linda McLean, The View from Castle Rock imagines the extraordinary experiences of Munro’s Scottish ancestors who sailed from Leith Docks in 1818 in the hope of a better life in Canada.

Acclaimed director Marilyn Imrie and playwright Linda McLean will create, in this word-for-word adaptation from Alice Munro’s text, a vibrant drama about the nineteenth century Scottish migrant experience that will form a centrepiece of the Book Festival this August.

Following daily performances during the Book Festival (11 – 29 August) at artSpace@StMarks in Castle Terrace, The View from Castle Rock will tour to the Borders (31 August – 3 September) including the Ettrick Valley, home of Munro’s ancestors who were related to James Hogg.

Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said “Alice Munro is celebrated across the globe as the greatest living short story writer. She is also fascinated by her heritage and her family’s voyage from Scotland to Canada in the early-19th century. Today, at a time when the refugee crisis is such a topical issue right across Europe, I am proud that the Book Festival and Stellar Quines will bring Munro’s story dramatically to life as the centrepiece of a thoughtful, far-reaching discussion about human migration.”

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said: “Alice Munro’s work has been admired and celebrated by readers across the globe since she first put pen to paper in the 1950s. The View from Castle Rock, which tells the story of James Laidlaw and his family, is a powerful and moving depiction of life in Scotland during the 19th century and a subsequent journey and settlement in Canada. I’m confident audiences will engage with Linda McLean’s theatrical adaptation presented by Stellar Quines.

“The Edinburgh International Book Festival is a highlight in the Edinburgh Festivals’ calendar. The Scottish Government is proud to support the festival via the Expo Fund and has provided £85,000 this year to bring this innovative piece of work to life, which continues to raise Scotland’s cultural profile on the international stage.”

Linda McLean, Playwright, said “Alice Munro’s writing is riddled with the kind of subtext I usually look for in theatre, where the unsaid is often more powerful than the words a character says out loud. She plants a seed of thought so stealthily that I often wonder if it was a figment of my imagination until two or three stories later she refers to it, almost accidentally, but with such emotional punch that I have to close the book and hug it to myself.”

Marilyn Imrie, Director, said “The deprivations and sorrows encountered by Munro’s migrant family are sadly familiar, two hundred years on. Playwright Linda McLean brings to the production her experience of a form of dramatic storytelling currently inspiring exciting new theatre in Canada, the US and Europe: word for word dramatisation – every word spoken is from the text as Munro wrote it. And the performances are staged in a 19th century church with a fine view of Castle Rock.”

Find out more about the production or download the media release.