The View From Castle Rock: World Premiere Performance Announced for Book Festival this August

The Edinburgh International Book Festival today announced 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 and will form a centrepiece of the Book Festival this August. 

The production is presented in collaboration with Stellar Quines, an award-winning theatre company, which celebrates the energy, experience and perspective of women. 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.

Imrie and McLean will be working with a creative team including designer Claire Halleran, composer Pippa Murphy, and a cast that includes Simon Donaldson and Brian O’Sullivan.

The View from Castle Rock is supported by the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund and this event is also part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.   Following daily performances during the Book Festival at artSpace@StMarks in Castle Terrace, The View from Castle Rock will tour to the Borders including the Ettrick Valley, home of Munro’s ancestors who were related to James Hogg.  The tour will take in Peebles, Hawick, Ettrickbridge and Galashiels from 31 August to 3 September as part of Booked!; Edinburgh International Book Festival on the road and the Borders Live Touring scheme.

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.”

The View from Castle Rock will be performed daily from Thursday 11 August (11 and 12 August Previews) to Monday 29 August (times vary) at artSpace@StMarks, 7 Castle Terrace, Edinburgh (Fringe Venue 125).  Tickets can be booked through the Edinburgh Festival Fringe at www.edfringe.com from Thursday 26 May, or through the Edinburgh International Book Festival Box Office, www.edbookfest.co.uk from Tuesday 21 June.  Full price £15.00, Concessions £12.00, Previews £10.00.

The full programme for the Edinburgh International Book Festival will be announced on Thursday 9 June 2016.

Notes to Editors

Alice Munro

Alice Munro has published thirteen collections of stories and a novel. During her distinguished career she has been the recipient of many awards, including two Giller Prizes, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Man Booker International Prize. In 2013 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s Magazine, The Paris Review, Granta and countless other publications. Her collections have been translated into thirteen languages. 

Stellar Quines

‘Bursting with wit, intelligence and energy, Stellar Quines brings new vigour to Scottish theatre.’ The Scotsman

Established in 1993, Stellar Quines is an award winning Scottish theatre company that celebrates the energy, experience and perspective of women.  Stellar Quines is proud to have provided a platform for women’s stories and created live theatre driven by women and where female practitioners are at the forefront of all creative roles throughout this time. Stellar Quines has established a reputation for high quality, diverse work that reflects an eclectic range of theatrical styles and is underpinned by a commitment to pushing boundaries and challenging stereotypes.

In May 2016 Stellar Quines welcomed a new Artistic Director: Jemima Levick, who joined the company from Dundee Rep.  www.stellarquines.com

Booked! is the Edinburgh International Book Festival on the road around Scotland, throughout the year.  A celebration of words and ideas, Booked! blends the very best from groups and organisations across the country with the energy and excitement of the August Book Festival. Produced in collaboration with a variety of partners, this wide-ranging programme of events and activities brings authors, artists and audiences together to inspire each other and to be inspired, to share stories and experiences, and bring books to life for people of all ages in their own communities.  Booked! is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

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