100% that Moscovitch: One of Canada’s most acclaimed playwrights is reaching a whole new audience
Canadian writer Hannah Moscovitch, who works on the AMC show Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire, poses in Halifax on Wednesday, December 21, 2022. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)
Hannah Moscovitch is one of North America’s most renowned playwrights. But it only went “viral” in the fall of 2022.
Since the mid-2000s, she has written 18 plays and librettos that have received near-universal acclaim. They have won their theater awards, Yale University’s Windham-Campbell Literary Prize in 2016 and the Governor General’s Award for Plays in 2021. the dark princess of Canadian theater,” which according to showrunner Rolin Jones made her the perfect cast for Anne Rice’s interview with AMC’s Vampire.
When the fifth episode, A Vile Hunger For Your Hammering Heart, aired in October, viewers were able to experience Moscovitch’s talent for combining emotion, eeriness and brutality up close. By then, Vampire had had an ardent following of fans of Anne Rice’s 1976 novel and Neil Jordan’s 1996 film adaptation, as well as viewers who appreciate the explicitly queer relationship between the two main characters, vampires Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson) and Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid) in the series adaptation.
As a result, the simmering, emotionally manipulative relationship between Lestat and Louis – an allegory also made clear through the show’s interpretation of the duo’s connection – erupted into a destructive, chaotic, bloody brawl that ends when Lestat reveals, that he can fly, and Louis drops from hundreds of feet in the air.
Sam Reid as Lestat de Lioncourt (left) and Jacob Anderson as Louis de Pointe du Lac in Season 1 Episode 5 of Interview with the Vampire. (AMC)
Viewers were immediately divided by the violence: some saw it as the natural progression of the relationship, while others felt betrayed by Lestat’s villainous turn of events. But anyone who knew the previous work of the episode’s writer, Moscovitch, knew not to be surprised when things went from comfortable to tense to downright frightening — and most importantly, emotionally moving.
Moscovitch’s biggest early hit, which premiered in 2007, was a short play entitled East of Berlin, about a man who falls in love with a Jewess while dealing with his father’s work for the Nazis. This became a telltale sign of Moscovitch’s tone: sweet and brutal, with touches of irony and humor. Later plays like What a Young Wife Should to Know, a one-woman monologue about the financial, physical, and emotional toll of women without access to birth control, have taken on more direct political tones. She is personally portrayed in The Secret Life of a Mother, which is gruesomely detailed in its descriptions of miscarriages and childbirth, and in The Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story, the true story of her Jewish-Romanian grandparents who fled the war in 1908. set to klezmer music (which will celebrate its 400th performance on its current tour).
“[East of Berlin] blew my mind. From that point on, I’ve followed Hannah’s stellar career remotely,” Toronto-born, LA-based actor, writer and Vampire producer Adam O’Byrne told CBC Arts via email. “I had to think of her immediately. I gave Rolin East of Berlin. I remember him replying to the email, “Well that was pretty darn awesome!” And that was it.”
The boys rehearse their big fight. pic.twitter.com/S5I0dtY1bk
As the first season was being created during the pandemic, Moscovitch joined a virtual writers’ room with colleagues from around the world, including Keith Powell (“Toofer” of 30 Rock), Alan Taylor (director of The Sopranos, Mad Men, Game of Thrones and Thor: The Dark World) and Swedish screenwriter and director Levan Akin. “I’m not exaggerating when I say that [our writers] belong to a handful of the finest dramatic writers of our generation,” says O’Byrne. “So obviously she brought her immense talent to the room.”
Moscovitch, who is now executive producer of Interview with the Vampire and lives in Los Angeles with her young son and husband, is already embarking on the show’s second season, which will take her to sets in Prague, Paris and New Orleans. During the pandemic, as work was pushed off stages around the world, television writing became a professional and creative haven for Moscovitch. But after the critical and critical acclaim of Season 1 of Interview with the Vampire, her TV career really took off.
“I wouldn’t have gone and written about it if I didn’t feel like it was beautiful. I love how it’s queer explicit and I love the adaptation. I loved it and I’m happy the world does too,” Moscovitch said. 44, says from LA where she is also developing a series called Little Bird starring Jennifer Podemski for Crave and another TV adaptation project to be announced soon.
But while she’s finding success on television, she also achieves a cinematic milestone with the world premiere of the stage adaptation of Fall On Your Knees, the 1996 novel by Ann-Marie MacDonald. The two-part epic will first perform with the Canadian stage in Toronto before touring to the National Arts Center in Ottawa, the Grand Theater in London and the Neptune Theater in Halifax.
Amaka Umeh in a Fall On Your Knees promotional image. (© Lorne Bridgman, All Rights Reserved)
MacDonald and her partner and collaborator Alisa Palmer, who directs production, first approached the idea of an adaptation with Moscovitch over 13 years ago, when the playwright was 31 and just beginning her career.
“She’s someone who has the skills, the stamina, and the intelligence to see a project of this magnitude,” says MacDonald. “That takes such a work ethic, right? It’s not for the faint of heart.”
“She was already a very promising playwright when we started working together. I pat myself on the back and said, ‘Yeah, you picked the right horse.’”
But at the time, it was the biggest project Moscovitch had ever taken on — and the first time she was tasked with adapting an existing story. She also had a personal connection to the book: she read it in drama school when she was 19, and recalls a time when she was so engrossed in reading that she didn’t realize the water in her bathtub was burning her Legs.
“It felt so big and grown up, and what I understood to be beyond my circumstances at the time. It was just a very, very long process of figuring out how to adapt a novel to the stage, and particularly a novel of this kind of relationship, with so many generations,” she says. “But instinctively, I knew I had to work with this material can – that it’s kind of close to my own, just because it has this mix of humor and darkness.”
This mix also attracted the play’s director, Palmer, who also first heard of Moscovitch through her breakout east of Berlin. In fact, Palmer was initially put off by the script because he thought it would be almost impossible to work with anyone who could delve into such complex and dark relationships, and do it with Moscovitch’s sharp humor, on a huge project like Fall On Your Knees. to work .
“But when I met Hannah, she was the complete opposite — a bright shining star of the imagination with a tremendous work ethic and incredible discipline,” says Palmer. “She has an access to mischievousness and a sense of humor. She is very attuned to the harder truths of life, but also how humor and love combine with it.”
In her two major literary adaptations – Fall On Your Knees and Interview with the Vampire – Moscovitch has found her strength in combining these two seemingly opposing forces.
“Ultimately, the message of the play for me, and probably for anyone who has read the book, is that love is more powerful than hate,” she says. “Love is far more powerful than homophobia and bigotry. Love is even mightier than death.”