Courting Johanna: Adapting Alice Munro for the Stage
In this paper I will consider Alice Munro’s story “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage,” which was published in 2001 in a collection of the same name, in the form of its adaption as a play by Marcia Johnson. The play, Courting Johanna, premiered at the Blyth Theatre Festival (Blyth, Ontario, Canada) in 2008 and was published the next year. In considering one of Munro’s stories as a play, I will be joining many other critics in asking how Alice Munro achieves her particular affect, but I will be approaching the question from a transmedia perspective. By asking how this adaptation works on the stage, I will be asking questions about the nature of theatrical representation, the feminism fundamental to Munro’s world view, and whether we can, perhaps paradoxically, understand Munro’s story-writing genius by looking at it in the mirror of the theatre. In my case, I am able to draw on the experience of directing a student production of Courting Johanna at the University of Lethbridge in February 2014 – the perspective of personally bringing the play from page to stage.
Alice Munro’s stories have inspired a select number of Canadian film and television adaptations, most famously the 2006 film Away From Her, which won director Sarah Polley a Genie Award and an Oscar nomination for her adapted screenplay. The short story cycle Lives of Girls and Women was adapted for CBC television in 1994, and “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage” premiered at the 2013 Toronto International...
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