On October 28th, the winners of the Carol Bolt Award, RBC Emerging Playwright Award, Stage West Comedy and Musical Awards, Theatre for Young Audiences Award, Robert Beardsley Award, and PGC’s Honorary Membership Award were announced at the Tom Hendry Awards ceremony at The Arts and Letters Club of Toronto.
Carol Bolt Award Winner – Matthew Mackenzie
Presented for the best work premiered by a PGC member in the past year, the 2018 Carol Bolt Award was bestowed on Matthew Mackenzie for Bears. The Carol Bolt Award is sponsored by Alberta Playwrights’ Network, Pat the Dog Theatre Creation, Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre, Playwrights Canada Press, Playwrights Guild of Canada, Playwrights Theatre Centre, and Playwrights Workshop Montreal.
Jury: Nina Lee Aquino (Chair), Laurel Green, Kimberley Rampersad, and Ken T. Williams.
RBC Emerging Playwright Award Winner – David Gagnon Walker
Presented for the best play by a PGC member who is an emerging playwright, the 2018 RBC Emerging Playwright Award was given to David Gagnon Walker for The Big Ship. Second place was awarded to Deanna Kruger for The Sword-Bearers and third place to Bessie Cheng for Dirt. The RBC Emerging Playwright Award is sponsored by The RBC Emerging Artists Fund.
Jury: Alanis King (Chair), Col Cseke, Sedina Fiati, and Christine Quintana.
The Robert Beardsley Award Winner – Daniel Carter
The Arts and Letters Club of Toronto Foundation gives an annual award to an emerging playwright under 25 who lives in the GTA and is pursuing a postsecondary education. The Robert Beardsley Award was granted to Daniel Carter for lonelyboy99. This award was sponsored and presented by the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto Foundation and administered by Playwrights Guild of Canada.
Jury: Ali Joy Richardson (Chair), Spy Dénommé-Welch, and Nikki Shaffeeullah.
Stage West Musical Award Winner – Kevin Wong (with co-creator, Julie Tepperman)
Presented annually to a PGC member for best musical in development, the 2018 Musical Award was given to Kevin Wong (with Julie Tepperman) for The Preposterous Predicament of Polly Peel. The Stage West Musical Award is sponsored by the Stage West Pechet Family.
Jury: David Hein and Irene Sankoff (Co-Chairs), Camila Diaz-Varela, Nancy Morgan, and JP Thibodeau.
Stage West Comedy Award Winner – Damien Atkins
Presented annually to a PGC member for best comedy in development, the 2018 Comedy Award was bestowed upon Damien Atkins for Misericordia. The Stage West Comedy Award is sponsored by the Stage West Pechet Family.
Jury: Samantha MacDonald (Chair), Kristen Da Silva, Warona Setshwaelo, and John Spurway.
Theatre for Young Audiences Award Winner – Christine Quintana
Presented to a PGC member for best play intended for young audiences, the 2018 Theatre for Young Audiences Award was presented to Christine Quintana for Selfie. Funding for the Theatre for Young Audiences Award was made possible with the help of Business for the Arts’ ArtsVest program.
Jury: Tessa Mendel (Chair), Rex Deverell, Duval Lang, and Tanisha Taitt.
The Honorary Membership Award – Rachel Ditor
The Honorary Membership Award is awarded to an individual or organization for their contribution to the Canadian playwriting 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 Winning Plays
The Carol Bolt Award:
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…
RBC Emerging Playwright Award:
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.
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 from 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.
Stage West Musical Award:
The Preposterous Predicament of Polly Peel by Kevin Wong and 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!
Stage West Comedy Award:
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.
Robert Beardsley Award:
lonelyboy99 by Daniel Carter
Kyle is forced to move to Toronto after his ‘dad’ finds him with a man 30 years older 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.
Theatre for Young Audiences Award:
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.
Matthew Mackenzie, was 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.
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 electroacoustic 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: www.davidgagnonwalker.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Daniel Carter is a theatre artist and arts manager. He is a graduate of McGill University’s Drama and Theatre program, and he is finishing a degree at Humber College in the 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 the Paprika Festival.
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, Ruby Slippers Theatre’s Marine Life 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. Contact: christinequintana.ca
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 Playwrights 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 thirty-nine 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 fifteen 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.