More Plays by Carol Shields

These currently unpublished plays range from three plays, Women Waiting, The View and Air Talk that were originally Radio Dramas broadcast on the Canadian Broadcasting Company, to Unless, Carol's Shields' own adaptation, with her daughter Sara Cassidy, of her last novel. The stage play was produced in Toronto, Vancouver and Scarborough, England in 2005 and in Victoria in 2006.

Production Information

For those who may be interested in producing one of Carol Shields' plays at your theatre or school, please contact Great North Artists Management, Inc. regarding rights and reading scripts.

Literary Department
Great North Artists Management, Inc.

     350 Dupont Street
     Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5R 1V9
Contact: Rena Zimmerman
     Telephone: 416-925-2051
     Fax: 416-925-3904

Unless: the Play

Reta Winters has many reasons to be happy: Her three almost grown daughters. Her twenty-six-year relationship with their father. Her work translating the larger-than-life French intellectual and feminist Danielle Westerman. Her modest success with a novel of her own, and the clamour of her American publisher for a sequel. Then in the spring of her forty-fourth year, all the quiet satisfactions of her well-lived life disappear in a moment: her eldest daughter Norah suddenly runs from the family and ends up mute and begging on a Toronto street corner. Around Norah's neck; a hand-lettered sign reading GOODNESS.

Goodness. With the inconceivable loss of her daughter like a lump in her throat, Reta tackles the mystery of this message. What in the world has broken Norah, and what could bring her back to the provisional safety of home? Reta's wit is the weapon she most often brandishes as she kicks against the pricks that have brought her daughter down. Carol Shields brings us Reta's voice in all its poignancy, outrage and droll humour. - inside dust jacket flap of the first hardcover edition

Carol Shields adapted her novel Unless for a stage play with her youngest daughter Sara Cassidy. Carol died before the play hit the stage but was able to participate in early readings of the play. Sara continued to work to bring Carol's play to life after her mother's death.

Unless was produced by the Canadian Stage Company, Toronto in association with the Arts Club Theatre, Vancouver and the Belfry Theatre, Victoria. It was also produced by the Stephen Joseph Theatre Company in Scarborough, England. Unless has a cast of 7 actors, four women and three men, some playing multiple roles.

Unless your heart is made of stone, you'll love the conjunction of words and imagery that makes Unless a must-see."
- Vancouver Sun

A beautiful, heart-wrenching tale of pain, enlightenment and reconnection by one of Canada's best-loved writers."
- Belfry Theatre


By Carol Shields and Sara Cassidy
Reviewer Jane Penistan

A parent's worst nightmare is to lose a child. Unless, by Carol Shields, examines all the aspects of a grown child abandoning her family and friends and going to live on a bleak and sinister street corner in friendless Toronto. The domino effect this has on all the members of the family is that this child is effectually lost to all of them.

a unique and stimulating evening of theatre."
- Colin Thomas,

The View

A couple goes to view a nearly completed apartment to rent. When the manager and his secretary return to the office downstairs, Patty and Richard find themselves locked out on a balcony on the 11th floor of a vacant apartment building in the middle of winter.

This play was originally written as a Radio Drama for the CBC Manitoba Anthology Series.

Women Waiting

Lottie anxiously waits at home for word from the doctor as her husband John undergoes heart surgery. Her friend Myra drops by to keep her company. Myra is concerned because her husband Ferd is away on business and travelling by plane. The women begin to imagine how their lives would change if something was to happen to their husbands and soon their dreams are voiced.

Winner: First prize for Radio Drama, CBC Literary Awards 1983


Two men sit side-by-side in a small aircraft. During the flight, the two strangers find themselves inventing mutual friends and situations and talking about the mysterious Joanna.

Air-Talk can be found in Instant Applause: 26 Very Short Complete Plays, published by Blizzard Publishing, Winnipeg, 1994. It is a collection of twenty-nine complete plays lasting no longer than ten to fifteen minutes each.

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