Estate of Carol Shields


An award-winning novelist, Carol Shields wrote her first play in the winter of 1982-83, when she entered the CBC’s annual contest for an original radio play. She won first prize with Women Waiting. This success encouraged her to write her first stage play, Departures and Arrivals, a series of dramatic and comic scenes taking place in an airport. The play was first produced at the Black Hole Theatre, University of Manitoba in 1984, and since then, it has been staged by countless amateur groups around the world, including many schools and colleges.

Carol’s second stage play, Thirteen Hands, was first produced at Prairie Theatre Exchange in Winnipeg in 1993. It went on to be produced by professional theatres in Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver to considerable box-office success.

With her daughter Catherine Shields, Carol co-wrote a play for The Prairie Theatre Exchange in 1995 entitled Fashion, Power, Guilt, and the Charity of Families. Carol also co-wrote Anniversary: A Comedywith her colleague Dave Williamson, which was first performed in Toronto in 1994.

In 2000, while in England researching Jane Austen-A Biographyand working on her novel Unless, Carol journeyed to the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, England where she accepted Alan Ayckbourn’s invitation to write a play for the theatre. As her health deteriorated, Carol asked her daughter Sara Cassidy to help her write a stage play for her novel, Unless. Carol died before they could finish, but Sara carried on, and Unless: The Playwas produced in Scarborough, as well as in Toronto and Vancouver in 2005, and in Victoria in 2006.

Also in 2000, Carol’s novel Larry’s Party (1997) was adapted into a musical byRichard Ouzounian and composer Marek Norman, produced by the Canadian Stage Company at the Bluma Appel Theatre in Toronto. The play was subsequently presented at the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the National Arts Centre, and the script was published with four original songs by McArthur & Company in 2001.

In 2002, Vintage Canada released the anthology, Thirteen Hands and Other Plays.