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Ontario, September 25th, 2018 – Playwrights Guild of Canada (PGC) proudly announces the short lists for its 2018 Tom Hendry Awards. The short lists for the Carol Bolt Award, the RBC Emerging Playwright Award, the Robert Beardsley Award, the Theatre for Young Audiences Award, as well as the Stage West Comedy & Musical Awards have been released by their respective juries. PGC is also thrilled to announce Rachel Ditor as the winner of the 2018 Honorary Membership Award.


Carol Bolt Award – 2018 Short List

This award is given annually for the best work by a PGC-member that has premiered in the past year. The Carol Bolt Award is in loving memory of both David and Carol Bolt. JURY: Nina Lee Aquino (Chair), Laurel Green, Kimberley Rampersad, and Ken T. Williams.

Matthew Mackenzie (AB) for Bears,

Colleen Murphy (ON) for The Breathing Hole, and

Kat Sandler (ON) for Bang Bang.


Stage West Musical Award – 2018 Short List

This award is given annually for a new musical work by a PGC-member, which has not yet had a premiere production. JURY: Irene Sankoff and David Hein (Chairs), Camila Diaz-Varela, Nancy Morgan, and JP Thibodeau.

Joan Burrows (Co-creators: Ron Cameron Lewis & Jason Saunders) (ON) for Willow Quartet,

Grant Tilly (ON) for A Jew, a Muslim, a Christian, and an Atheist, Stuck in a Room!, and

Kevin Wong (Co-creator: Julie Tepperman) (ON) for The Preposterous Predicament of Polly Peel.


Stage West Comedy Award – 2018 Short List

This award is given annually for a new comedy by a PGC-member, which has not yet had a premiere production. JURY: Samantha MacDonald (Chair), Kristen Da Silva, Warona Setshwaelo, and John Spurway.

Damien Atkins (ON) for Misericordia,

Shelley Hoffman and Stephen Sparks (ON) for Buying the Farm, and

Derek Ritschel (ON) for Fair and Square.


RBC Emerging Playwright Award – 2018 Short List

This award is given annually for the best play by a PGC-member who is an emerging playwright. JURY: Alanis King (Chair), Col Cseke, Sedina Fiati, and Christine Quintana.

Bessie Cheng (ON) for Dirt,

David Gagnon Walker (AB) for The Big Ship, and

Deanna Kruger (ON) for The Sword-Bearers.


Robert Beardsley Award

The Arts & Letters Club of Toronto Foundation’s 2018 Short List

This award is to be granted to a full-time secondary or post-secondary student within the GTA for the creation of a one-act play script. JURY: Ali Joy Richardson (Chair), Spy Denomme-Welch, and Nikki Shaffeeullah.

Daniel Carter (ON) for lonelyboy99,

Lauren Lacey (ON) for Cordelia, and

Natalie Liconti (Co-creators: Lucy Fandel and Emily Sirota) (ON) for The Gentle Art of Punishment.


Theatre for Young Audiences Award – 2018 Short List

This is a brand new award, which is to be given to a new TYA play or one that has had a professional production in the last year. JURY: Tessa Mendel (Chair), Rex Deverell, Duval Lang, and Tanisha Taitt.

Kalale Dalton-Lutale (QC) for Pinky Swear,

Michael Kras (ON) for The Team, and

Christine Quintana (BC) for Selfie.


Honorary Member Award – 2018 Winner

Honorary membership is awarded to an individual or organization for their contribution to the Canadian playwright community, and must be nominated by PGC members and voted on by PGC’s Board of Directors. Playwrights Guild of Canada is very excited to announce that Rachel Ditor is the 2018 recipient of the Honorary Member Award. Rachel will receive a PGC membership for life.


Synopses of Shortlisted Plays

Carol Bolt Award:

Sponsored by Alberta Playwrights’ Network, Playwrights Canada Press, Pat the Dog Theatre Creation, Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre (PARC), Playwrights Theatre Centre (PTC), Playwrights’ Workshop Montreal, and Playwrights Guild of Canada.

Bears by Matthew Mackenzie – Floyd, a Métis oil patch worker, is on the lam in the Western Canadian wilderness. The RCMP are chasing Floyd, as are Kinder Morgan’s private bounty hunters, as he flees after a workplace accident. Making his way through the Rockies for British Columbia and the Pacific Ocean, Floyd is assisted by the flora and fauna in evading the authorities. Along his journey, Floyd undergoes a transformation, his sense of smell heightening, his gait widening, his muscles bulging…


The Breathing Hole by Colleen Murphy – Set in the Netsilik region of the Canadian Arctic, the play centres around the life and death of a 500-year-old polar bear named Angu’juaq. The story begins in 1534 from the bear’s birth in an Inuit community and moves to the time of First Contact, through a startling encounter with the Franklin Expedition, to a profoundly moving conclusion: a meeting in 2034 with a cruise ship navigating the Northwest Passage in a world now ravaged by climate change. As the ice caps shrink and the impacts of scientific reality become more real and more personal, our way of life changes, gradually – but forever.


Bang Bang by Kat Sandler – A white playwright uses the shooting of an unarmed young Black man by a Black female police officer as a “jumping off point” for his hit play that is soon to be adapted into a major movie. As Hollywood comes knocking for the writer, he makes a surprise visit to the home of the officer involved. BANG BANG traces the impact of what it means to be inspired by true events.


The Stage West Musical Award:

Sponsored by the Stage West Pechet Family.

Willow Quartet by Joan Burrows (Co-creators: Ron Cameron Lewis & Jason Saunders) – A tragedy seems to end Kim and Ben’s marriage and Kim finds herself back in her childhood home, a quiet farm away from the city.  Here, she invites Jim, a visiting musician, to stay with her while participating in a town music festival. Despite his attempts to make her forget her anguish, she  struggles through her unresolved grief. Under the watchful eye of Marjorie, her mother, Ben, her husband and the voice that continually haunts her from her favourite willow tree, she eventually begins to explore her buried feelings and eventually finds her new normal.


A Jew, a Muslim, a Christian, and an Atheist, Stuck in a Room! by Grant Tilly – Lights up on a Jew, a Muslim, a Christian, and an Atheist, in an empty room except for a chair, a water bottle, and a pair of tap shoes. Why are they there? Is this a bad joke? Each is unable to remember their own name, personal history, or what has brought them there. Quickly coming to the conclusion that they are indeed stuck in the room, and (even worse) in a musical, they set about trying to find a way out.

This is not an easy task. For some, the path to salvation (and out of the room) might lie in convincing the rest of the group that their own set of beliefs are the right ones. Conversions are attempted and failed, alliances are formed and fall apart, and as past histories and grievances are brought up, escape continues to elude them.

Finally, the question emerges: can Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Atheists even co-exist in a room, let alone on a planet with an ever increasing population? It’s only by looking at what they hold in common and realizing how similar they truly are that the group begins to take a first step forward together.


The Preposterous Predicament of Polly Peel by Kevin Wong (Co-creator: Julie Tepperman) ‘…Polly Peel’ explores a family grappling with death through the eyes and imagination of a biology-obsessed eleven-year old girl. Originally inspired by acclaimed Canadian painter Paul Peel’s ‘The Young Biologist’, an early incarnation was presented in 2016 at the AGO as part of The Musical Stage Co’s ‘Reframed’. Winner of the Fringe’s 2018 Paul O’Sullivan Prize for Musical Theatre and a Patrons’ Pick!


The Stage West Comedy Award:

Sponsored by the Stage West Pechet Family.

Misericordia by Damien Atkins – “Misericordia” is a dark comedy about a man reeling from the death of his lover when their young child is diagnosed with cancer. A play about surviving your worst nightmare, and finding humour in the darkest corners.


Buying the Farm by Shelley Hoffman & Stephen Sparks – When Brad Deacon, a young real estate agent trying to prove himself to his father, arrives at the Bjornson farm, he’s determined to succeed where others have failed. And that may just happen since the old, bachelor farmer, Magnus Bjornson, is now finding himself backed into a corner with mounting debt and suburban neighborhoods advancing from every direction. But chores, skunks and ants get in the way, not to mention Magnus’ high-spirited and secretive, great niece Esme, who is unwavering in her resolve that this farm is NOT FOR SALE. How much is a fourth generation farm worth? Is it possible to hide from one’s self? And can anyone hold back “progress”? To answer these questions, Magnus, Esme and Brad must break through the divisions between urban and rural life to build a better future for them all…


Fair and Square by Derek Ritschel – The problem with relationships is that other people are involved. With the best of intentions, Penny and Earl buy a house with friends, Sadie and Dennis. Their goal: to flip the house and make a profit. Over a single evening hidden truths and secrets about the close friends come to the surface and could change their lives forever. With honesty and humour, our two couples try to rebuild a beautiful home together and restore their relationships.


The RBC Emerging Playwright Award:

Sponsored by the RBC Emerging Artists Fund.

Dirt by Bessie Cheng – Dirt is a queer coming of age story that follows two boys of opposing ethnic groups growing up as best friends in Urumqi, China. Spanning 15+ years in timeline and set in both Urumqi and Toronto, Dirt explores the intersection between queerness and race, as well as the idea of power being a violent force. The play also challenges the nature of social institutions and the consequences of deviating society’s rules.
Min, a boy from an upper-working class Han family meets Alim, a lower-class Uyghur boy at school. The two bond over their mutual love for art, pranks, and they become each other’s best support system when dealing with the pains and awkward stages of growing up. Set in a city that is coined as the “Other Tibet”, Min and Alim navigate the barriers of their identities, retribution, and self-discovery together through vignettes of their transition from childhood to adolescence. . The boys’ relationship is tested when Min decides to go abroad to Canada for university while Alim is forced to drop out of school to help out his family’s food vendor.


The Big Ship by David Gagnon Walker – Gordon has lived in an abandoned warehouse for 30 years. Lou and Laurie have been there for two. Lisa just moved in. Owl is 300 000 years old. Everything ends tonight. Blurring lines between naturalism, surrealism, performance art, and documentary theatre, The Big Ship considers the war on drugs from two different global perspectives, exploring how the desire to feel better and the impulse to self-destruct so often intertwine in our increasingly precarious world.


The Sword-Bearers by Deanna Kruger – The Sword-Bearers is an exploration of the interior lives of two neighbours: a young entomologist with postpartum depression and an older woman awaiting her son’s trial for a violent crime.


The Robert Beardsley Award:

Sponsored and Presented by the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto Foundation.

lonleyboy99 by Daniel Carter – Kyle is forced to move to Toronto after his ‘dad’ finds him with a man 30 years old than him (Gary). In Toronto, Kyle relies on sex work to survive, and struggles with finding meaningful and intimate connections with his clients and through sex.

Based on the psychiatric assessments of Luka Magnotta, lonelyboy99 analyzes the impact that seeking validation through sex has on the self.


Cordelia by Lauren Lacey – A portrait of a young woman always slightly out of reach, this multi-perspective play tells the story of her life from those around her.


The Gentle Art of Punishment by Natalie Liconti (Co-creators: Lucy Fandel and Emily Sirota) – In a nostalgic and dream-like narrative, three women unravel their girlhoods. THE GENTLE ART OF PUNISHMENT stages and interprets aspects of trauma theory in a dystopian dark-comedy that asks, how do people make meaning in the wake of trauma? THE GENTLE ART OF PUNISHMENT is for anyone who has ever had a crush on their therapist – or thinks that Drew Barrymore is under-appreciated in her dramatic roles.


Theatre for Young Audiences Award:

Sponsored by Playwrights Guild of Canada and Business for the Arts’ ArtsVest Program.

Pinky Swear by Kalale Dalton-Lutale – On the last day of school, Bailey and Zanele meet up in the girls’ washroom to determine if they have been accepted into the same middle school. What follows is a beautiful coming-of-age story – set in real time – of two young women considering separate paths and where politics of gender, race, and class come to the surface, revealing an unconditional friendship that is put through the ultimate test.


The Team by Michael Kras – Bobbie Brantwood just returned to school following the suicide of her brother, a former high school basketball superstar. To process her grief, she joins the school’s senior girls basketball team as they prepare for a live-or-die battle to championships. The crushing weights of expectation, grief, fear, and identity loom as each player faces their uncertain futures.


Selfie by Christine Quintana – It’s a new school year, which means new hopes and new expectations. Over the summer, friends Lily, Chris, and Emma spent time learning about themselves, who they want to be, and how they hope others see them. On the first day back at school, these social pressures reach a new level as Chris starts his first day of Grade 12 and Lily is over the moon to have her best friend Emma back from a summer exchange program in France. As social expectations increase, siblings Lily and Chris decide to throw a back-to-school party. The party is a huge hit. Everyone is drinking, dancing and, of course, ensuring that the whole night is documented on Instagram. This party, however, is not without its own set of expectations. During the summer, the separated friends have grown apart, which makes this party even more special. Lily missed her best friend Emma and decides to help the budding romance between Chris and Emma become reality. During the party, their feelings come out in the open and end with Chris and Emma going into his bedroom. The next morning, Chris is ecstatic with how their relationship has grown overnight whereas Emma can’t remember what happened. A visit to the doctor reveals that Emma had sex. Because she cannot remember it, what happened to her amounts to sexual assault. Emma, Lily and Chris have to face the truth of what happened and navigate how their relationships with one another have changed.


List of the Playwright’s Bios

Carol Bolt Award – Shortlisted Playwrights

Matthew Mackenzie, raised in Edmonton Alberta, and attended Victoria Composite High School. He is a graduate of the Playwriting Program at the National Theatre School of Canada where he was the winner of the Lieutenant Governor’s award for excellence and community involvement. Matthew MacKenzie was a member of Tarragon Theatre’s 2012 Playwrights Unit and Winner of the 2011 Urjo Kareda Emerging Artist Award. As assistant director, he directed the Tarragon production of Was Spring. In 2014, he was playwright-in-residence at Downstage Performance Society in Calgary.

His early plays include Tick (Edmonton Fringe); Me Happy, co-written with Amy Lee Lavoie (SummerWorks); The Particulars (Toronto, Edmonton, Montreal and Winnipeg Fringe Festivals); and The Particulars & In General


Colleen Murphy is a two-time Governor General’s Literary Award Winner for Drama. She won for Pig Girl in 2007 and for The December Man (L’homme de décembre) in 2007. Twice she has won the Carol Bolt Award for Best Play.

Other plays include The Society For The Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius (winner of six 2018 Jessie Richardson Awards), The Breathing Hole (nominated for the 2018 Susan Blackburn Prize), I Hope My Heart Burns First, Armstrong’s War, The Goodnight Bird, Beating Heart Cadaver and The Piper. Libretti include Oksana G. composed by Aaron Gervais, and My Mouth On Your Heart composed by August Murphy-King. Colleen is also a filmmaker and her distinct, award-winning films have played in festivals around the world. Her play Armstrong’s War is currently being made into a film.

In 2017 Colleen was awarded a Canada Council New Chapter Grant for a large play she is writing entitled Geography of Fire / La géographie et sa furie.


Kat Sandler is a writer, director and the Artistic Director of Theatre Brouhaha. She has staged fourteen of her original plays since 2012, including BANG BANG, which was nominated for a Dora for Outstanding New Play (General Division). Her play, Mustard won the Dora for Outstanding New Play in 2015. In 2018 she has plays in development or being staged in Thunder Bay, Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton and Calgary. She is starting to play around in film and television, and has an original show in development with eOne and an adaptation in development with Shaftesbury. Kat attended Queen’s University.


Stage West Musical Award – Shortlisted Playwrights

Joan Burrows has won awards at both ACT-CO and Theatre Ontario Festivals for her work as a director, stage manager and playwright. As a member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada her play credits include:  Staff Room; The Photograph; Gloria’s Guy; Willow Quartet; Four Hours. Last year she was the dramaturge and directed Surrender, Dorothy by Liz Best for Fireworks 2017 at the Alumnae Theatre and won the ACT-CO award for Outstanding Production of Butcher by Nicolas Billon.

This past summer she was the dramaturge with playwright Romeo Ciolfli on his very challenging play, Animal, being produced in November at the Alumnae. Joan’s co-creators for Willow Quartet are Ron Cameron Lewis & Jason Saunders.


Grant Tilly is a librettist, lyricist, composer, and actor originally from Calgary and now based in Toronto. Most recently, Tilly spent his summer performing in repertory theatre with Rising Tide Theatre in Newfoundland, where his new musical “On The Radio”, received its premiere.

Other productions of Tilly’s work include “Bingo Ladies” (Port Stanley Festival Theatre, Lunchbox Theatre, Hudson Village Theatre), “My Side of the Country” (Neptune Theatre Young Company), “The Naming of Port Rexton” (Rising Tide Theatre), the Country/Rock musical “The Christian Republican Fundraiser…” (“Best of Fringe”, Talk is Free Theatre), and “Remember that Song?” (Smile Theatre tour).

Performing highlights include the Canadian national company of “Jersey Boys” (Dancap), “Wrecked!” (US/Ontario Tour, Roseneath), and “West Side Story” (Arts Club). This year, Tilly will be a member of the CMTWC Advanced Toronto Writers workshop led by Leslie Arden, where he will be completing “The Whole Enchilada”, a new musical developed through an OAC Playwrights’ residency with Theatre Orangeville.


Kevin Wong writes lyrics and music. Other pieces: Recurring John: A Song Cycle, STAR!(ving): A Collection of Songs, Drama 101 (with book writer and co-lyricist Steven Gallagher), Misprint (with book writer Lauren Toffan), and this fall at Sheridan College in the Canadian Music Theatre Project, In Real Life (with book writer and co-lyricist Nick Green).

Julie Tepperman is a playwright and actor, as well as co-artistic director of Convergence Theatre. Favourite plays: Rosy, The Gladstone Variations, The Father (re-imagined), The Unending, Bandits In The Valley, YICHUD (Seclusion) – published by Playwrights Canada Press. Julie is the co-creator of Brantwood, an epic choose-your-own adventure in an actual high school. Her opera Hook Up will premiere at Theatre Passe Muraille in Feb. 2019.


Stage West Comedy Award – Shortlisted Playwrights

Actor and playwright Damien Atkins has performed on stages across Canada and the U.S., including The Shaw and Stratford Festivals and Soulpepper. As a playwright, his work has been produced by The Stratford Festival, Theatre Passe Muraille, Canadian Stage, The Grand Theatre, Manitoba Theatre Centre, theatrefront, Crow’s Theatre, 2btheatre, The Delaware Theatre Centre, The Ensemble Studio Theatre (NYC), The Citadel, and The Belfry. He has received ten Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations for acting and writing, winning four. He has been playwright-in-residence at Canadian Stage, Crow’s Theatre, and Factory Theatre.


Shelley Hoffman acted in theatre, television and sketch comedy before becoming the de-facto granddaughter to over 30 Nonnas, Omas, Bubbes and Grandmas when she was a producer for Loving Spoonfuls, the Cooking with Grandmoms show. Since then she has been developing, story editing and producing award winning, animation properties for kids and kids-at-heart.


Stephen Sparks has appeared in theatres across Canada including: Baskerville- Lighthouse Theatre, Mick Unplugged and The Myth of Summer – ATP Playrites Festival, Man of la Mancha- Globe Theatre, Sound of Music -Persephone. The Clock Maker and I had a Job I Liked Once- Sudbury Theatre, Colours in the Storm – Festival Players, Enchanted April -Theatre Calgary, Noises Off – The Atlantic Theatre Festival, Real Estate, Looking – Theatre Aquarius.

The inspiration for Buying The Farm is two-fold: Stephen’s farming roots going back generations and his experience of working in theatres situated in farming communities where he’s witnessed changes for good and ill.


Derek Ritschel is entering in his ninth year as the artistic director of both Lighthouse Festival Theatre and Showboat Festival Theatres. Ritschel has performed in theatres across Canada, and in several television programs and films. He served as the Chair of the Ontario Summer Theatre Association from 2013 to 2015, and is a recipient of the Canada Council for the Arts Professional Development Grant. One of his biggest achievements as a Canadian theatre artist is rescuing Showboat Festival Theatre in Port Colborne from closure in 2013 by reaching out to the theatre’s board of directors and bringing the company under Lighthouse Theatre management.


RBC Emerging Playwright Award – Shortlisted Playwrights

Bessie Cheng is a Chinese-Canadian playwright and performer. She graduated from the Playwriting and Devised Theatre program at York University. Her most recent play in development, Dirt, was workshopped through Factory Theatre’s Foundry program, and was a recipient of the Ellen Ross Stuart Awards from the Ontario Arts Foundation. Bessie is also a co-founder of Silk Bath Collective, which created the Fringe hit, Silk Bath. The show moved onto a sold-out run at Next Stage Festival 2017, and gained a residency in Tarragon’s Workspace program. Her collective is gearing up for their world premiere of Yellow Rabbit at Soulpepper Theatre this fall. In 2016, Cahoots Theatre named Bessie as one of their 30 theatre-makers that will shape the next 30 years in Canadian Theatre.


David Gagnon Walker is a playwright, dramaturg, and performer based between Edmonton and Montréal. His works prioritize formal experimentation, integrating text-based drama with other modes of contemporary performance. They include: Premium Content (Major Matt Mason Collective, 2018), Productive Time (72-hour site-specific & online performance, Found Fest 2017), One of Us Must Know (Chinook Series, 2016), and the libretto for the eloctroacoustic operetta Little Urban Green (Toronto Laptop Orchestra, 2015). Dramaturgy includes The Observed Flight of Birds (2b Theatre/NTS, 2017), Trying to Listen While Not Giving a Fuck, (Surreal SoReal/Zone Homa, 2018), and the contemporary circus show Particle # B (Grenoble, France, 2018; upcoming 2019 tour of Australia). David is in the final year of the playwriting program at the National Theatre School of Canada. Find him online at


Deanna Kruger lives in Guelph, Ontario. Most recently, she was a member of The Women’s Room, a playwright unit hosted by Pat the Dog Theatre Creation and Sonderlust. She was previously part of Nightwood Theatre’s Write from the Hip program, during which she developed The Sword-Bearers. This November, Deanna’s play We Ran Wild will have a staged reading at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery as part of the Heels on the Diving Board theatre series.


The Robert Beardsley Award – Shortlisted Playwrights

Daniel Carter is a theatre artist and arts manager. He is a graduate of McGill University’s Drama & Theatre program, and finishing a degree at Humber College in Arts Administration and Cultural Management program. Daniel has been involved in projects with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Pandemic Theatre, Compass Theatre, and DopoLavoro Teatrale. Daniel was a member of Factory Theatre’s The Foundry, House+Body’s Playwrights Initiative; and he was featured in Le Festival Rose, Gay Play Day, Nuit Rose. He is currently the General Manager of Paprika Festival.


Originally from Vancouver, Lauren Lacey is a fourth year student at the University of Toronto, studying both Drama and English. When not writing, she works as a lighting and projection designer at the university.


Natalie Liconti is a Toronto-based performance artist and emerging creative producer. She has a multidisciplinary interest in work that explores camp, queerness, and dystopia/utopia.

Natalie has presented (performed/directed/produced) work at festivals such as the Printemps Numérique Festival 2015, ZH Festival 2017, the St-Ambroise Montréal Fringe Festival (multiple years) and Calm Down, Dear Festival 2018 (Camden People’s Theatre, London). She is the founder and producer of the Montréal-based performance collective, Daughter Product. This year the company has been nominated for a Montreal English Theatre Award (META) for Outstanding Emerging Artist(s) (Production Category). In 2018 Natalie participated in Camden People’s Theatre’s Starting Blocks Programme – a creation residency for emerging solo artists.

This year Natalie has been nominated for five METAs for her 2017/2018 body of performance work including: Outstanding Independent Production (The Life and Death of Fred Herko), Outstanding Emerging Artist (for her performances in À Louer / The History of Sexuality / The Life and Death of Fred Herko / Vic and Flo Saw a Bear), and Outstanding (Original) New Text (The Life and Death of Fred Herko).

Natalie is currently one of The Rhubarb Festival’s Artistic Interns at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre.

Natalie’s Co-creators are: Emily Sirota and Lucy Fandel


The Theatre for Young Audiences Award – Shortlisted Playwrights

Kalale Dalton-Lutale is a writer and performer from Toronto. Kalale has preformed in Pervers/Cite, Montreal MonoChrome, Playwrights Workshop Montreals’ Young Creators Unit Showcase, The Revolution They Wrote Theatre festival and Kill Joy’s Kastle: A Lesbian Feminist Haunted House in Toronto and Los Angeles. Most recently she was nominated for two Montreal English Theatre awards; Outstanding New Text, for Pinky Swear (Geordie Productions), and Outstanding Emerging Artist. Currently she is studying playwriting at The National Theatre School of Canada.


Michael Kras is a Hamilton based playwright and actor. He is the recipient of the Herman Voaden National Playwriting Prize for his play The Team, which makes its world premiere in the 2018/19 seasons at Essential Collective Theatre and Theatre Aquarius. Other works include Eve of Destruction, currently in development with Twitches & Itches Theatre; The Year and Two of Us Back Here, developed at Theatre Aquarius; and #dirtygirl, which premiered at the Hamilton Fringe and won the festival’s Audience Choice Award. Michael is a graduate of Humber Theatre school.


Christine Quintana is an actor, playwright, and co-Artistic Producer of Delinquent Theatre, and lives on unceded Coast Salish Territory. Christine received the 2017 Siminovitch Protégé Prize for Playwriting from Marcus Youssef, a Dora Mavor Moore Award and Sydney Risk prize for her play Selfie, and is Tarragon Theatre’s Playwright in Residence. As an actor, this season Christine will perform in Theatre Replacement’s East Van Panto, Gateway Theatre’s The Yoga Play, Marine Life with Ruby Slippers Theatre and the full premiere of Never The Last, an original interdisciplinary theatre piece co-written and performed with Molly MacKinnon and produced by Delinquent Theatre. Christine holds a BFA in Acting from UBC.


The Honorary Award – Winner

Rachel Ditor has been a freelance dramaturg and director in new play development for companies across Canada since 1992.  Including work with: Playwrights Workshop Montreal, the National Arts Centre, Saskatchewan Playwrights Centre, Playwrights Theatre Centre, Electric Company, Theatre Replacement, Ruby Slippers, Gateway Theatre, a faculty dramaturg for the Banff PlayRites Colony, the resident dramaturg for Touchstone Theatre and Rumble Theatre.

For 17 years Rachel was the literary manager and dramaturg at the Arts Club Theatre (ACT) in Vancouver.  Under her guidance the company developed and produced 39 new plays. There she also launched the LEAP teen playwriting program, the Silver Commissions program, UBC/ACT theatre production student internships, the Play Club discussion group, and the annual ReAct public reading series of plays in development.   ACT dramaturgy highlights include: The Piano Teacher by Dorothy Dittrick, Onegin by Amiel Gladstone and Veda Hille, Thanks For Giving by Kevin Loring,  Poster Boys by Michele Riml, Helen Lawrence by Stan Douglas and Chris Haddock,  The Unplugging by Yvette Nolan, Tear the Curtain! by Kevin Kerr and Jonathon Young with Kim Collier, Paradise Garden by Lucia Frangione, The Patron Saint of Stanley Park by Hiro Kanagawa, How Has My Love Affected You? by Marcus Youssef, My Turquoise Years by Marion (MAC) Farrant, Griffin and Sabine by Nick Bantock, and The Men in White and The Matka King by Anosh Irani.

Currently Rachel teaches playwriting for the Department of Writing at the University of Victoria.  Prior to that she taught dramaturgy at UBC for 15 years and has been a guest lecturer in theatre at McGill University, Concordia University, University of Lethbridge, Emily Carr, and Simon Fraser University.

In 2013 Rachel was awarded the Bra D’Or from the Playwrights Guild of Canada for her work supporting women playwrights.  She has twice been a juror for the Siminovitch Prize in Theatre and has served on numerous juries and panels speaking about the strength and vision of Canadian theatre artists.


List of the Jury and Chair Bios

Carol Bolt Award – Chair and Jury

Nina Lee Aquino (Chair) is an award-winning director and dramaturge. She was the former Artistic Director of fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company and Cahoots Theatre; and is the current Artistic Director of Factory Theatre.

Nina is the editor of Canada’s first Asian-Canadian 2-volume drama anthology love + relasianships and the co-editor of the award winning New Essays on Canadian Theatre Volume One: Asian Canadian Theatre (Playwrights Canada Press).

Awards for her work include: the Ken McDougall Award 2004, the Canada Council John Hirsch Prize 2008 and two Dora Mavor Moore Awards for Outstanding Direction. She is an honorary member of the Canadian Association for Theatre Research.


Laurel Green is a dramaturg, director and arts manager who lives in Calgary. Currently the Festival Producer for One Yellow Rabbit’s High Performance Rodeo, she works extensively in new play development, actively exploring many forms. For seven seasons she was part of the artistic team at Alberta Theatre Projects where she was the production dramaturg for many world premiere productions, led workshops and readings, and created the national ATP Playwrights Unit. Some of Laurel’s recent credits include: Then Comes Now(University of Calgary), Trophy (High Performance Rodeo), Intuition, Touch, Taste (Ghost River Theatre), Charlotte’s Web, 1979, Butcher, The Circle, You Will Remember Me, The Valley (ATP) and directing for the Saskatchewan Playwrights Centre’s Spring Play Festival. Laurel is the President of LMDA Canada (Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas) and an associate artist with


Kimberley Rampersad is a Canadian theatre artist born in and based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Treaty One.  As an actor she has worked across the country including Mirvish, RMTC, Stratford and Shaw.  As a choreographer her work on Passing Strange (Musical Stage/Obsidian) and Seussical (YPT) were each recognized in 2017 with two Dora nominations.  Her directing credits include Routes (MTYP), hang (with Philip Akin, Obsidian), How Black Mothers Say I Love You (GCTC) (2018 PrixRideau Award – Outstanding Production) and O’Flaherty, V.C. (Shaw Festival). She is the recipient of the 2017 Gina Wilkinson Prize.


Kenneth T. Williams once Googled “Kenneth Williams” and he got a million hits about “famous dead gay British playwrights.” He didn’t want anyone to think he was British or dead, so he added his middle initial to his professional name. Now his name sounds like Tennessee Williams with a lisp. Go ahead. Sound it out, you know you want to.

He is a Cree playwright from the George Gordon First Nation in the Treaty 4 Territory. He is the first Indigenous person to earn an M.F.A. in playwriting from the University of Alberta, where he now teaches in the Drama Department. His playsIn Care, Café Daughter, Gordon Winter, Thunderstick, Bannock Republic, Suicide Notes and Three Little Birds have been produced across Canada.

He tweets about drama and Indigenous peoples under his handle, @feralplaywright. He lives in Edmonton with his partner, Dr. Melissa Stoops, and their hamster, The Grand Duchess Minnie Blackbear, and their cat, Augustus Caesar McFuzzyboots.


Stage West Musical Award – Chairs and Jury

IRENE SANKOFF & DAVID HEIN (Chairs) are a Canadian married writing team. Their first show, My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding (based on David’s mother’s true story) was the hit of the Toronto Fringe Festival, and then picked up for a commercial run by Mirvish Productions. It has now played and won best musical awards in the New York Musical Theatre Festival and across North America, with Sankoff and Hein performing in most productions. Come From Away was developed at the Canadian Music Theatre Project and Goodspeed Musicals’ Festival of New Artists, showcased at the NAMT   Festival of New Works and enjoyed a record setting world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse and Seattle Repertory, followed by Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto and the  Gander Community Centre Hockey Rink. Come From Away won three 2017 Dora Mavor Moore Awards, four Helen Hayes Awards, five Outer Critics Circle Awards and three Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical. David and Irene were nominated for Tony Awards for Best Book and Score, as well a Grammy nomination for Best Cast Album. They won the 2017 Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk awards for Best Book. Find them online @sankoffandhein


Camila Diaz-Varela is a first-generation Mexican-Canadian theatre maker, performer and musician based in Tkaronto, on Dish with One Spoon wampum belt treaty territory. She was born in Kjipuktuk on unceded Mi’kmaq territory (also known as Halifax, Nova Scotia) and is very proud of it. Camila performs both for theatre and as a singer-songwriter, and composes original music for theatre and film. As an actor and musician, she was most recently seen in The Silver Arrow: The Untold Story of Robin Hood, a new musical written by Meiko Ouchi and composed by Hawksley Workman, at the Citadel, and the Princess of the Tower, written by Leslie Wade and composed by Scott Christian, at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival. She is passionate about developing new musical works and is honoured to be on this year’s Stage West Musical Award jury.


Nancy Morgan has been working as an administrator and Board volunteer in non- profit arts sector for 25 years. She is currently the Executive Director of Theatre Nova Scotia. Past positions include the Managing Director of Strategic Arts Management, the General Manager at Eastern Front Theatre and Administrator at Great Canadian Theatre Company in Ottawa. She has also been the Outreach Coordinator at Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre and the US Tour Coordinator for Off The Leash Creative. As an independent consultant Nancy has worked with multiple Nova Scotian organizations of various disciplines.

Nancy has a wealth of experience in arts management and has travelled in Canada and the United States to promote Nova Scotian artists.

Nancy is Chair of the Strategic Arts Management Board, Treasurer of Playwright Atlantic Resource Centre, Performing Arts Lodge Halifax and Upstream Music Association Boards, and is the Past Chair the Legacy Centre for the Performing Arts Board. She has a bachelor’s degree in music from Queen’s University and an MBA from St. Mary’s University. She is also a member of the NS Registered Music Teachers’ Association and continues to teach private music lessons. When time allows, Nancy still acts as a consultant with SAM.

Nancy is grateful to Mary Vingoe, Gay Hauser and Wendy Lill for welcoming her into the theatre community in NS 20 years ago.


An award winning actor, designer and director JP Thibodeau has been both on and off the stage all over the world.  He is the Artistic Director for the incredibly successful StoryBook Theatre which is Canada’s largest semi professional theatre for young audiences.  He works closely with playwright and composer Joe Slabe to create many world premiere musicals, including Lest We Forget, Naughty But Nice, Urban Jungle Book (2017 Tom Hendry Award Shortlist), Twas the Night Before Christmas and the multi-award winning Touch Me: songs for a disconnected age.   Over his career JP has directed musicals of all sizes and has is a driving force in the fostering and development of emerging musical theatre artists in Calgary and across the country. He is the recipient of the Greg Bond Memorial Award for his outstanding contribution to Musical Theatre, multiple Critter Awards and several Betty Mitchell Award Nominations. Although plenty of his life is spent living and breathing theatre he always makes time for his understanding and supportive wife Tara and sons, Evan Xander and Isaac Tanner, who make the endless hours and demands of theatre worthwhile.


Stage West Comedy Award – Chair and Jury

Samantha MacDonald (Chair) fell into theatre in high school and despite a determination to become a corporate lawyer, has now spent thirty years NOT doing that. She is currently the Artistic Producer for Lunchbox Theatre in Calgary, AB, and has spent time at Theatre North West and Western Canada Theatre in BC. She was also the co-founder and co-artistic producer for Project X Theatre Productions in Kamloops, BC.

Selected adventures in directing: To Dream Again (StoryBook Theatre); Make Love Not Art (Inside Out Theatre), As You Like It (Shakespeare by the Bow); Flight Risk, The Exquisite Hour, In On It (Lunchbox Theatre); The Buddy Holly Story (Theatre North West); Seussical, Disney’s Beauty & the Beast (Western Canada Theatre); The Rocky Horror Show, Hamlet, As You Like It, Elizabeth Rex, The Tempest (Project X), Lear’s Daughters (3 Men of Sin).


Kristen Da Silva is a professional playwright and actor. Her plays include Book Club (August Theatre Co.,2015; Port Stanley Festival Theatre, 2018); Gibson & Sons; Five Alarm (Port Stanley Festival Theatre, 2017; Lighthouse Festival Theatre, 2017); Sugar Road (Theatre Orangeville, 2017; Rubarb Productions, 2018; Globus Theatre, 2018); Hurry Hard (Commissioned by Lighthouse Festival Theatre) and Where You Are (Theatre Orangeville, 2019).

In 2016, she was the recipient of the Stage West Pechet Family Comedy Award for Gibson & Sons, and was shortlisted for the award in 2017 for Sugar Road. She was raised in Nobleton, Ontario, graduated from York University and now lives in Oakville with her husband and their three children.


Warona Setshwaelo; artist, mother, storyteller, community builder and activist. Originally from Gaborone, Botswana and Johannesburg South Africa, Warona has lived in Tio’tia:ke (Montréal) for 11 years. She graduated with a B.A. in Virginia Tech’s Theatre Arts program in 2000 and has been finagling her way through this theatre thing ever since.

Apart from working at some of Montreal’s top English theatres (Imago theatre, Black Theatre Workshop, Repercussion Theatre, Tableau D’hote and Geordie Theatre, to name a few)  she has also managed to carve herself a place in the Film and TV industry as well as video games, most recently on Assassin’s Creed: Origins. Warona is also the Coordinator of the Artist Mentorship Program hosted by Black Theatre Workshop.


John Spurway is a Fredericton-based playwright. He took a creative writing course in 1999 and discovered a love for writing dialogue. From there, he participated in numerous workshops and wrote steadily. His first professional production, Between Friends, was staged in Port Dover in 2008. Since then, he has had several plays produced in Canada, many of them in southern Ontario, as well as some in the US. His plays, mostly comedies, involve ordinary people who find themselves in not-so-ordinary situations. Watch for the premiere of Off the Grid as part of Theatre Orangeville’s 25th season.


RBC Emerging Playwright Award – Chair and Jury

Alanis King (Chair) is an Odawa playwright originally from the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve.  Just announced GCTC’s Playwright-in-Residence for her new play Bury. Other playwrighting credits include Morning Becomes Electa, Kawabin Elvis, Born Buffalo, Teacher, Kohkum’s Good Medicine Journey, Treaty Daze, Bye Bye Beneshe, Song of Hiawatha:  An Anishnaabec Adaption, Order of Good Cheer, Gegwah, Lovechild, The Artshow, Heartdwellers, The Manitoulin Incident, Tommy Prince Story, and If Jesus Met Nanabush. 3 Plays by Fifth House Publishers will also be publishing The Manitoulin Incident in three languages.  Alanis is Past Artistic Director of Askiy Productions, Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company, Native Earth Performing Arts, Debajehmujig Theatre Group, Mazinaw Rocks Productions and currently Odawa Native Theatre. She has been commissioned to write plays for the University of Wisconsin, the Centre for Indigenous Theatre, Shadowland Theatre, Saskatchewan’s Awasis and the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health.  She is a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada. Alanis lives in Ottawa works as a Cultural Ambassador in tourism and is a proud Nokomis. Alanis wishes to acknowledge Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and the City of Ottawa for their support for Bury.


Col Cseke is a playwright, director, and Artistic Director of Inside Out Theatre in Calgary. He works extensively in verbatim-text, community generated new work, disability arts, and collective creation. Col was the Alberta Theatre Projects Playwright in Residence, Artistic Associate with the Scottish Opera, and formerly the Co-Artistic Director of Verb Theatre.


Sedina Fiati is a performer, producer, activist and creator for stage and screen. She holds a BFA in Music Theatre from the University of Windsor and has performed, produced and created a variety of projects, ranging from devised work, Shakespeare, cabarets, and multi disciplinary projects.  Sedina is the Managing Producer of The Storefront Theatre and APT Producer at Generator. She is proudly queer and of African descent and hopes to leave the world a better place than she found it. Upcoming: Switch, a street performance intervention/meditation, 22, a new play in development, and whatever else she cooks up while riding her bike in dresses.


Christine Quintana is an actor, playwright, and co-Artistic Producer of Delinquent Theatre.  Christine received the 2017 Siminovitch Protege Prize for Playwriting from Marcus Youssef, and was the Urjo Kareda Emerging Artist Resident at Tarragon Theatre.  She is the 2018 Playwright in Residence at Tarragon Theatre. Creation/performing highlights include Selfie (commissioned by Théâtre la Seizième in French, and Young People’s Theatre in English, winner of the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding TYA Play, and the Sydney Risk Prize for Outstanding Script by an Emerging Playwright); and creating/performing in Never The Last (co-created with Molly MacKinnon) upcoming in April 2019 with Delinquent Theatre. She holds a BFA in Acting from the University of British Columbia.  Christine is based on the unceded traditional territory of the Coast Salish people, specifically the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh nations.


Robert Beardsley Award – Chair and Jury

ALI JOY RICHARDSON (Chair) is a director, writer, and producer originally from Nova Scotia. She’s Artistic Producer of Paprika Festival which provides mentorship and showcasing to young artists. She’s a member of Nightwood’s 2018 Write from the Hip playwriting unit and is a director in residence through Canadian Stage’s 2018 RBC Emerging Artist Program. She was a finalist for the 2018 Safe Words New Canadian Play Contest and her plays have been read in DaPoPo’s Live-In Festival (Halifax) and Nightwood’s Groundswell Festival. Her play A Bear Awake in Winter will be produced in the 2019 Next Stage Festival. Ali works as a book writer and director with Education Arts Canada, creating touring musicals about mental health for 9 to 12-year-olds. She has made theatre in Edinburgh, Vancouver, Berlin, Halifax, Edmonton, and Toronto, in museums, office buildings, hospitals, defunct record shops, abandoned schools, kitchens, and harbours.


Spy Dénommé-Welch is a composer, producer, and librettist/playwright of Anishnaabe identity. He wrote and co-composed the Dora Mavor Moore -nominated opera Giiwedin. Recent credits (as writer and co-composer) include: Sojourn (2017; commissioned by Signal Theatre for the dance opera Bearing); HATE MAIL & Irreconcilable Trolls (2017; premiered at Native Earth’s Aki Studio); Bottlenecked (2017); Victorian Secrets (2014, presented at Native Earth’s Aki Studio); Spin Doctors(2014); Bike Rage (2011).


Nikki Shaffeeullah is a theatre-maker, writer, facilitator, and community-engaged artist. Currently, she is Artistic Director of The AMY Project, an award-winning organization providing barrier-free performing arts training and mentorship for youth; a resident of the RBC Emerging Director program at Canadian Stage Company; and a Fellow of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators. Recent and upcoming work includes directing Lion Womxn (The AMY Project/SummerWorks Performance Festival, 2018), performing in the indie feature film The Lower Plateau (Dépanneur Films, 2018), and associate directing Lilies (lemonTree creations/Buddies in Bad Times/Why Not). As a social justice trainer, Nikki develops and facilitates workshops on equity for arts organizations across Canada. Past roles include Assistant Artistic Director of Jumblies Theatre, and Editor-in-Chief of magazine. Nikki holds an MFA in Theatre Practice from the University of Alberta and her thesis project won the 2013 Canadian Association for Theatre Research award in Intercultural Theatre. Her work is informed by longtime anti-racist, queer, and feminist movement organizing, and a family who loves music, food, justice, and pun. Nikki believes art should disrupt the status quo, centre the margins, engage with the ancient, dream of the future, and be for everyone.


Theatre for Young Audiences Award – Chair and Jury

Currently Artistic Director of Halifax Theatre for Young People, Tessa Mendel (Chair) has worked throughout much of Canada and internationally (Ethiopia, Jamaica) as a theatre director, community-based theatre facilitator and educator.  She was the founding director of a company that worked with youth to create plays about their issues in Toronto’s public housing communities and founded the Women’s Theatre and Creativity Centre of Nova Scotia in 1995 with a mandate of connecting women and community, creativity and social change.  Tessa has taught in Theatre Programs at Memorial, Acadia, Dalhousie and Mount Saint Vincent Universities and directed over thirty productions at theatres and universities in Nova Scotia, Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland, including Bitter Rose at the Sarasvrati Festival, Winnipeg, which was filmed for BRAVO TV’s Singular Series, and the premiere of Bone Cage for Forerunner’s and Ship’s Company, Nova Scotia.  Other directing credits include Upstart Theatre, Halifax; The Grand Theatre, London, Ontario, The Theatre Centre, Toronto and NotaBle Acts, N.B.  Tessa received Creative Nova Scotia’s Established Artist Award in 2014 and her book, Using the Creative Arts for Transformational Learning, was published in 2015.


Rex Deverell is a life member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada and one of the founding group. His award winning plays for young audiences have been produced across Canada and internationally, translated into German, Hebrew, and Italian. He was a long-time resident playwright for Regina’s Globe Theatre and, currently, is an associate artist at Mixed Company Theatre in Toronto.

(Shameless self-promotion:  Most recently Deverell has created a picture book for children based on a Mixed Company community collective and illustrated by Shelton Deverell.)


Duval Lang has been very active in the dynamic growth of the Calgary theatre community for over 40 years. His early career was spent at Theatre Calgary leading the Stage Coach Players. He took that experience and in 1984 became a co-founder of Quest Theatre, Calgary’s prominent theatre for young audience company and served as its Artistic Director for 25 years. He is now a busy freelance actor and director working across the country. Duval has been recognized with Betty Mitchell (Calgary) and Stirling (Edmonton) nominations and awards for his acting work and is a recipient of the Harry and Martha Cohen Award for significant and long-term contribution to theatre in Calgary.


A director/actor/playwright, teacher, singer-songwriter, activist and accidental essayist, Tanisha Taitt is a theatre and anti-oppression educator who has worked with companies including Obsidian, Buddies In Bad Times, The Theatre Centre, Paprika Festival, Musical Stage Company, Children’s Peace Theatre, National Arts Centre, Nightwood, and Soulpepper, and spent two seasons as a Resident Artist Educator at Young People’s Theatre, where she also teaches in the Drama School.  She is a Dramatic Arts mentor for the Toronto District School Board program tdsbCREATES, and teaches 1st Year Contemporary Scene Study at George Brown Theatre School. Tanisha was nominated as a director for the Pauline McGibbon Award for Unique Talents, and is a two-time YWCA Woman of Distinction nominee for her commitment to artistic excellence and social justice.




Playwrights Guild of Canada is a registered national arts service association mandated to advance the creative rights and interests of professional Canadian playwrights, promote Canadian plays nationally and internationally, and foster an active, evolving community of writers for the stage.


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