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Playwrights Guild of Canada Announces
the 2019 Tom Hendry Awards Short Lists and the Lifetime Membership Award Winner


Ontario, September 24th, 2019Playwrights Guild of Canada (PGC) proudly announces the short lists for its 2019 Tom Hendry Awards. The short lists for the Carol Bolt Award, the RBC Emerging Playwright Award, the Robert Beardsley Award, the Sharon Enkin Plays For Young People Award, as well as the Stage West Comedy & Musical Awards have been released by their respective juries. PGC is also thrilled to announce Colleen Murphy as the winner of the 2019 Lifetime Membership Award. 




Carol Bolt Award – 2019 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: Jovanni Sy(Chair), Natasha MacLellan, andRahul Varma.

Amy Rutherford (ON) for Mortified, 

Norman Yeung (ON) for Theory,  and

Erin Shields (QC) for Beautiful Man.


Stage West Musical Award – 2019 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: Kelley Jo Burke (Chair), Julie McIsaac, and Adam Sakiyama.

Morris Panych, Anika Johnson & Britta Johnson (ON) for Trap Door, 

Daniel Abrahamson & Ashley Botting (ON) for Stars of Mars,  and

Fatuma Adar (ON) for Dixon Road.


Stage West Comedy Award – 2019 Short List

This award is given annually for a new comedy by a PGC-member, which has not yet had a premiere production. JURY: Rosemary Rowe(Chair),Trevor Reuger, and Nina Lauren.

Kevin Shea (ON) for The Lake House, 

Camille Pavlenko (AB) for Go for Gold, Audrey Pham!,  and

Kristen Da Silva (ON) for Hurry Hard.


RBC Emerging Playwright Award – 2019 Short List

This award is given annually for the best play by a PGC-member who is an emerging playwright. JURY: Daniel Thau-Eleff(Chair), PJ Prudat, and Conni Massing.

Jesse LaVercombe (ON) for Hallelujah It’s Holly,

Elyse Friedman (ON) forThe Cole Porter Suite,and

Gillian Clark (QC) for Harmony Mall.


Robert Beardsley Award
 The Arts & Letters Club of Toronto Foundation’s 2019 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: Jeff Ho (Chair), Abby Charchun, and Bilal Baig.

Alyssa Pothier (ON) for In Your Own Backyard, 

Roxhanne Norman (ON) for Jane Doe,  and

Julie Phan (ON) for Fine China.


Sharon Enkin Plays For Young People Award – 2019 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. Marjie Chud (Chair), Jim Morrow, and Ian Ross.

Makambe K. Simamba (ON) for Our Fathers, Sons, Lovers and Little Brothers, 

Paula Zelaya-Cervantes with Ana González-Bello (MX) for 245 Acts of Unspeakable Evil,  and

Linda A. Carson (BC) for So How Should I Be?


Lifetime Membership Award – 2019 Winner

Lifetime  membership is awarded to an individual 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 Colleen Murphy is the 2019 recipient of the Lifetime Membership Award. Colleen will receive a PGC membership for life. 


Bra D’Or Award – 2019 Winner

PGC is excited to announce the recipient of this year’s Bra D’Or Award at the Tom Hendry Awards ceremony on October 27th!


Synopses of Shortlisted Plays


Carol Bolt Award
Sponsored by Alberta Playwrights’ Network, Playwrights Canada Press, Manitoba Association of Playwrights (MAP), Pat the Dog Theatre Creation, Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre (PARC), Playwrights’ Workshop Montreal, Saskatchewan Playwrights Centre and Playwrights Guild of Canada.


Mortified by Amy RutherfordA woman encounters a man from her past and is disturbed by the strange power he still holds over her. In her attempts to uncover the truth of what happened between them, she evokes her 13-year-old self: a synchronized swimmer struggling to make sense of her burgeoning sexuality. Humourous and dark, Mortified explores adolescent sex, shame and transformation and how we reckon with the traumatic experiences that shape us.


Theory by Norman YeungIsabelle, a young tenure-track professor, tests the limits of free speech by encouraging her students to contribute to an unmoderated discussion group. When an anonymous student posts offensive comments and videos, Isabelle must decide whether to intervene or to let the social experiment play out. Soon, the posts turn abusive and threatening, leading Isabelle and her unknown tormentor to engage in a high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse that not only has Isabelle questioning her beliefs, but fighting back for her life.


Beautiful Man by Erin ShieldsBEAUTIFUL MAN is a raucous, bawdy, scathing satire of gender roles in popular film and television. In a world in which women are the subjects and men are the objects, three women talk about the latest Hollywood Blockbuster: a police drama starring a grizzled female cop, who is watching a TV show starring an Amazon Queen, who is watching a play starring a Roman Empress, who is watching a puppet show starring an aggressive cave woman. As one narrative folds into another, violence becomes more gratuitous, horrifying, and recognizable. All the while, a silent, beautiful man is increasingly subjugated and increasingly naked. Finally … he speaks. BEAUTIFUL MAN is a cheeky, vicious, sexy evisceration of the stories we find ourselves consuming alone in the dark.


The Stage West Musical Award
Sponsored by the Stage West Pechet Family.


Trap Door by Morris Panych, Anika Johnson & Britta JohnsonLoosely based on true events that took place in Toronto on and around December 2, 1919, the musical follows Ambrose Small, a famous theatre impresario whose mysterious disappearance was a media headliner, and to this day remains an unanswered question. It coincides with the arrival of Teddy, a young woman from a small town, in search of her missing sister who worked for Small, and who has disappeared. For Ambrose Small, now compromised by gambling debts, gangsters, a corrupt police department, and Doughty, his jealous and vengeful business manager, there seems to be no escape from retribution. But Small, with the help of the theatre’s magician, plans an elaborate escape. His wife, Theresa, is in on his plan, or at least part of it, to frame Doughty for Small’s disappearance. Meanwhile, Teddy, with the help of the business manager, slowly unravels the sorry circumstances of her sister’s disappearance, all too late. Teddy vows revenge, and sets out her own plan to deal with Small. When Small does finally escape, the story goes into overdrive, with reporters running amok, police claiming to have seen Small’s ghost, gangsters scrambling for clues, and Theresa at the centre of it, relishing her newly found widowhood. With the theatre’s days numbered, the entertainers pack their bags, but not before we go back a week in time to see what really happened to Ambrose Small, and how Teddy interrupted his clever trap door disappearing act.


Stars of Mars by Daniel Abrahamson & Ashley BottingStars of Mars is a new musical comedy set inside the first human colony on Mars, about a mother and daughter who are worlds apart. When Heather, the first human born on Mars, begins to ask questions about where she’s from, the astronauts and scientists decide to put on a show about the Earth they’ve all left behind. Stars of Mars is about family, the future, our precious planet, and the rocket science required to put on a show in space.


Dixon Road by Fatuma AdarSet in Mogadishu, Somalia and Toronto, Canada in the ‘90s, Dixon Road is a story about being displaced from home, from what you know, from who you are; and how family helps you find your way back.

Zakariya Hussein is proud of the man he’s become; a successful photographer, a provider for his family, and “ya Allah!” he’s just been promoted to be Somalia’s Minister of Heritage and Culture. Though the country is in the midst of civil unrest, the Hussein family find comfort in their luxuries. Batoul, Zakariya’s 16yr old daughter, longs to find a purpose in life that could live up to her father’s great achievements. In doing so she makes a critical mistake that forces the family to flee Somalia and everything that they’ve built.

In Toronto, Batoul carries the guilt of uprooting her family, but is mesmerized by the overwhelming opportunities of the western world. Zakariya loses grasp of his identity as he fails at navigating a place that doesn’t see the talented photographer he used to be but instead sees someone only suited to drive a cab. In Dixon Road a father and daughter embark on a journey that is heartfelt and heartbreaking as they try to find what they’ve lost.


The Stage West Comedy Award
Sponsored by the Stage West Pechet Family.


The Lake House by Kevin SheaA marriage has been arranged between the financially imperilled Summerhays family and the wealthy Khatri family. Neither bride nor groom are particularly enthusiastic about it. The arrival of an unexpected guest reveals a secret plot, and throws both families into a desperate fight for the future. Told through sparkling debate and an avant-garde play-within-the-play, The Lake House is a romantic comedy of ideas about inequality, the environment, and love.


Go for Gold, Audrey Pham! by Camille PavlenkoIt’s 1988. Perms are in, Tab is out, and Calgary hosts the winter Olympics. Audrey Pham represents Canada in the ultimate glam sport of Ski Ballet. Unfortunately for Audrey, the athlete’s village was not built large enough to accommodate everyone and she is billeted at the hands of a generous, sport-loving soul: Birchwoman; the notorious wicked witch of West Kensington. Can Audrey keep up her rigorous training schedule while having to navigate the hoarders-esque paradise of “BIRCHWOMAN’S: fine hippie emporium and curiosity shop” on her once in a lifetime quest for the Gold?


Hurry Hard by Kristen Da SilvaWhen Bill and Sandy’s marriage split up, so did their curling team – splintering off into a men’s team and a women’s team who begrudgingly share the ice at the Stayner Curling Club. Now, a medical emergency has left the men’s team short a player the day of the big Regional Bonspiel. If they have any hope of beating neighbouring Meaford and taking the trophy for Stayner, they’ll have to call a cease-fire on the war of the sexes and unite as one team.


The RBC Emerging Playwright Award
Sponsored by the RBC Emerging Artists Fund.


Hallelujah It’s Holly by Jesse LaVercombeA Jewish writer’s quest to find a miracle worker named Holly brings him to an old Catholic church in downtown Toronto. There he becomes involved with a new, technology-driven Christian sect which takes control of the building, affecting the lives of the recovering addicts who found refuge in the church basement’s 12-step programs.


The Cole Porter Suite by Elyse FriedmanThe Cole Porter Suite is a dramedy about a group of friends who travel to New York City for a very special celebration. They are marking the completion of chemo for one of the women in attendance. But when she reveals that her treatment has been unsuccessful, the evening takes a dramatic turn and the women must figure out how to navigate the gathering in the face of their friend’s impending death.


Harmony Mall by Gillian ClarkDiana, in her early twenties, goes to India to work with girls who have been rescued from the sex trade, only to become a sex tourist herself. She then starts getting haunted by Soumi, a small Indian Sex Worker who lives inside of her and eats her insides. Harmony Mall is Diana’s attempted public exorcism of Soumi.


The Robert Beardsley Award
Sponsored and Presented by the Arts & Letters Club of Toronto Foundation.


In Your Own Backyard by Alyssa PothierIn the midst of the Me Too Movement, how could a marriage survive accusations of sexual harassment and assault? In Your Own Backyard explores the grey area of a topic where people want black-and-white answers. What is forgivable? What isn’t? Where is the line and why is it so hard to define?


Jane Doe by Roxhanne NormanThree teens break into a morgue. One can play sports, one can pick locks, and one can speak to the dead. Together, they search for answers in the disappearance of their best friend – and the voice of her spirit may be their only lead.


Fine China by Julie Phan‘You should eat,’ ‘Don’t stay out too late’ and ‘Put on a jacket’ are all Asian immigrant ways of saying ‘I love you’ we’ve heard again and again from our parents. But love can be embedded so deeply in our words and actions that we forget it’s there. As estranged sisters Kim and Audrey reconnect after the death of their father: old tensions rise, repressed feelings come to a head, and appliances are broken as the fate of the family is left in question.


Sharon Enkin Plays For Young People Award
Sponsored by the Enkin Family.

Our Fathers, Sons, Lovers and Little Brothers by Makambe K. SimambaFebruary 26, 2012, Florida. A 17 year old black boy wearing a hoodie leaves a 7/11 carrying a bag of Skittles and an iced tea. He never makes it home. Our Fathers, Sons, Lovers and Little Brothers invites us to enter the world of an infamous teen, relive his last moments, and face the intricacy of his dance into the afterlife.


245 Acts of Unspeakable Evil by Paula Zelaya-Cervantes & Ana González-Bello – 5 minutes 18 seconds to The End of the World. The fate of mankind lays in the hands of a small, insufferable, foul-mouthed, feisty, 5’3 Mexican teen with an attitude. Problem is shemay not want to save it.

This is an uproarious, spunky play about the powerless daughter of a powerful superhero; about good, evil, and all the shades in between.


So How Should I Be? by Linda A. CarsonA play for audiences as young as ten years old, “So, How Should I Be?” integrates technology, illusion, and storytelling to address the underlying triggers that could lead to an Eating Disorder. Through personal, true stories from three generations, the actors look for clues that might help someone steer clear of the trap. The three characters, Ilana, Joel and Manami set off to discover how voices can get stuck in someone’s head and then take over to become a “Thought Monster”. Just as their experiment is getting dangerous, a book magically appears with verbatim stories from three generations to help them unravel the mystery. As they travel more deeply into the territory of mental illness and disordered eating, Ilana reveals that one of the stories in the book is her own. Together they help Ilana keep her two feet on the ground as she tackles the thoughts in her head.


List of the Playwright’s Bios

Carol Bolt Award for Playwrights – Shortlisted Playwrights


Amy Rutherford is a Toronto-based actor and writer who has worked with many of Canada’s leading theatre artists for close to twenty years. She has co-written three plays: Sad Object / Bad Object (Toronto Festival of Clowns 2014) Out of the Woods, (Summerworks, Sidemart Theatrical Grocery and Whynot Theatre 2013, Kick and Push Festival 2019) and The Public Servant (GCTC, 2015 Nightwood Theatre, Canadian Stage 2016) In 2018, her play Mortified was presented by Touchstone Theatre and Studio 58 in Vancouver.


Norman Yeung’s  play “Theory” will have its American premiere in October 2019 at Mosaic Theater in Washington, D.C.. “Theory” had its world premiere at Tarragon, won the Herman Voaden National Playwriting Prize, and is currently being developed as a feature film. “Theory” will be published by Playwrights Canada Press. At the Stratford Festival, he wrote his new play “Others”, a social satire about the shifting power from straight white males to… others. His play “Pu-Erh” received four Dora Award nominations, including Outstanding New Play, and was a Herman Voaden finalist. “Theory” and “Ms. Desjardins” are available as podcasts (PlayME/CBC). Other works include “Deirdre Dear” (Neil LaBute Theater Festival, St. Louis), “In this moment.” (Nuit Blanche), and “Black Blood” (Tapestry New Opera). He was in Canadian Stage’s BASH! development program, fu-GEN’s Kitchen Playwrights Unit, and Tapestry New Opera’s Composer-Librettist Laboratory. He holds a BFA in Acting/Theatre (University of British Columbia) and a BFA in Film (Ryerson). Toronto is one of Norman’s homes but his heart and soul is East Vancouver.


Erin Shields is a Montreal based playwright. Her most recent play, Beautiful Man was workshopped at SummerWorks and premiered at Factory Theatre in the spring of 2019. Erin’s adaptation of Paradise Lost, premiered at The Stratford Festival and was published by Playwrights Canada Press. It won the Quebec Writers Federation Prize for Playwriting was nominated for a Governor General’s Award. Erin won the 2011 Governor General’s Award for her play If We Were Birds, which premiered at Tarragon Theatre. Other theatre credits include: The Lady from the Sea (The Shaw Festival), The Millennial Malcontent and Soliciting Temptation (Tarragon Theatre) and Instant (Geordie Productions). Upcoming productions: Piaf/Dietrich at Mirvish Productions; Paradise Lost at Centaur Theatre, The National Arts Centre and Bard on the Beach.


Stage West Musical Award – Shortlisted Playwrights


Morris Panych is arguably Canada’s most celebrated playwright, with twenty plays in publication. He has received awards including two Governor General’s Literary Awards for Drama (The Ends of the Earth and most recently, Girl in the Goldfish Bowl) Canada’s most prestigious literary honour, fourteen Jessie Richardson Awards, three Sidney Riske Writing Awards and five Dora Mavor Moore Awards. Productions of the much lauded Vigil, Girl in the Goldfish Bowl, 7 Stories, The Dishwashers, The Shoplifters, and Lawrence and Holloman, as well as others, are currently being mounted throughout Canada, the US, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. His groundbreaking work The Overcoat toured worldwide to great acclaim and its film version, which Mr. Panych also directed, won an honourable mention at the Prix Italia. His plays have been produced in over two dozen languages; he has written thirty-five works for the stage. Morris is also an accomplished director, with nearly one hundred works for the stage. 


Daniel Abrahamson is a musical theatre creator from St. Albert, Alberta, now living in Toronto. He is the mind behind Toronto musicals Funny Business, Act Now, Girl’s End, Hugh and I, and most recently Stars of Mars and Super School! A proud graduate of Sheridan College, he trained in musical theatre writing through Scriptlab with Jim Betts and Leslie Arden, and helped found Composium, now a program through the Canadian Music Theatre Writers collective, to connect and nurture other musical theatre creators. He’s currently in 2nd year at the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, honing his craft as a composer/lyricist.


Ashley Botting is an actor, writer, improviser, singer, and TV/Radio contributor. She recently launched Ashley with a “Y” – a completely improvised, one-woman musical cabaret that NOW Magazine named the #1 Toronto comedy show of 2018. She’s a panelist and writer on CBC Radio’s Because News and an alumna of The Second City Mainstage. She’s a three-time Canadian Comedy Award winner, a three-time Dora Award nominee, and was recently nominated for Comedic Artist of the Year at the 2019 Canadian Comedy Awards.


Fatuma Adar is a Somali-Canadian writer based in Toronto. She was long-listed in CBC’s Creative Nonfiction Prize and profiled in Up Close: Young Black Women Making Canada Better. In 2017 she joined the third cohort of The Bars Workshop NYC at the Public Theater. Her work has been featured in the Toronto Star, The Globe & Mail, Maclean’s Magazine and an anthology entitled ‘Black Writers Matter’ published by the University of Regina Press. She is currently working on a musical called “Dixon Road” with support from the OAC, TAC, Obsidian Theatre and The Musical Stage Company. 


Stage West Comedy Award – Shortlisted Playwrights


Kevin Shea is a playwright who lives in Toronto. With Wade Bogert-O’Brien and Scott Christian he wrote the musicals Hero & Leander and A Misfortune. His play Consumption Patterns will premiere in January 2020 at the Next Stage Festival. 


Camille Pavlenko is a theatre artist based in Calgary, Alberta. Her previous work has won and been short-listed for the Ottawa Little Theatre’s Playwriting Competition, Henley Rose Playwriting Competition for Women, Theatre BC’s Playwriting Competition, the RBC Emerging Playwright Award, the Woodward International Playwriting Competition, the Alberta Playwriting Competition, and the Herman Voaden Prize. In 2018, Go for Gold, Audrey Pham, was workshopped as part of Lunchbox Theatre’s Stage One Festival. Past productions of her plays include The Jackal and Her Reflection (NextFest, Edmonton) Straight On ‘Till Morning (Red Phone Theatre, Calgary) and Permission (Provincial One Act Festival, Lethbridge). Along with composer Kathryn Smith, Camille was selected for the 2018-2019 New Musical Program at Alberta Musical Theatre Company (Alberta Opera), which culminated with the world premiere of their original TYA musical, Baba Yaga. She is the recipient of the Allied Arts Council’s Young Artist Award and is a Betty Mitchell Award nominee.


Kristen Da Silva is a playwright and actor living near Toronto, Ontario.

Her writing credits include Book Club (August Theatre Co, Port Stanley Festival Theatre); Gibson & Sons; Five Alarm (Port Stanley Festival Theatre, Lighthouse Festival Theatre); Sugar Road (Theatre Orangeville, Rubarb Productions, Globus Theatre); Hurry Hard (Commissioned by Lighthouse Festival Theatre) and Where You Are (Theatre Orangeville, Upper Canada Playhouse, Victoria Playhouse).

In 2016, she was the recipient of the Stage West Pechet Family Comedy Award for Gibson & Sons, and was shortlisted for the same in 2017 for Sugar Road.

She is a graduate of York University, where she was a founding member of the Vanier Improv Company and a company member of Vanier College Productions. 


RBC Emerging Playwright Award – Shortlisted Playwrights


Jesse LaVercombe is a Toronto-based writer and actor. Writing projects include: Love Me Forever Billy H. Tender (Videofag, NYC Fringe), Donny’s Second Book (with Step Taylor, St. Thomas University), A Presence of Monster (co-creator, PuSh Festival), “The Things You Think I’m Thinking” (short film, played over fifty festivals internationally, received twelve awards), Hallelujah, It’s Holly (commissioned by Driftwood Theatre), G-G-G-Genevieve (with composer Adrian Shepherd-Gawinski, commissioned by YES Theatre), Gilgamesh and Enkidu (with Ahmed Moneka and Seth Bockley, Pivot Arts, Chicago). Acting theatre credits include: Bunny, Hamlet, Sequence (Tarragon), Beautiful Man (Factory) The Wickhams, Miss Bennett (The Jungle Theatre, Minneapolis), The Bakkhai (Marigny Opera House, New Orleans), SHEETS (Videofag), Our Beautiful Sons (Blyth Festival); TV/film credits include: American Gods, Murdoch Mysteries, The Detail, Salvation, Mayday; Right Between The Eyes, Queen of the Morning Calm, Flowers in the Field, Mary Goes Round. Training: National Theatre School, Canadian Film Centre


Elyse Friedman is an author whose work has been shortlisted for the Trillium Award, the Toronto Book Award, the Relit Award, and numerous National Magazine Awards. Her short story, The Soother, won the gold National Magazine Award for fiction, and she was recently awarded the CBC-TIFF Screenwriter Award Jury Prize for her screenplay Better Now. The Cole Porter Suite is her first play.


Gillian Clark is the artistic co-director of Keep Good (Theatre) Company and is a theatre creator residing in Tiohtiá:ke/Montreal with a large part of her heart in K’jipuktuk/Halifax. Her solo piece Let’s Try This Standing, developed with Keep Good (Theatre) Company, continues to tour. Her newest play, The Ruins, just had its world premiere with Two Planks and a Passion Theatre. She is currently in her final year in the playwriting program at the National Theatre School of Canada.


The Robert Beardsley Award – Shortlisted Playwrights


Alyssa Pothier is a recent graduate of Ryerson School of Performance’s Acting Program. In Your Own Backyard is Alyssa’s first play, and she had the pleasure of co-directing it with Stephanie Hood in the New Voices Festival in the spring. Alyssa is also one of the co-founders of Panoply Classical Collective, an actor-based initiative that focuses on re-telling stories from the classical canon, and using found spaces to enhance the universality of these stories. She is thrilled to have been shortlisted for the Tom Hendry Award, and is thankful for all her friends who helped dramaturge the piece throughout this past year. She is looking forward to further developing this play in the future!


Roxhanne Norman is an emerging Toronto actor, singer, writer, and theatre artist just finishing her degree in Theatre and Drama Studies through U of T/UTM/Sheridan College. Recent theatre credits include Officer Barrell in Urinetown (We Are Here Productions), The Lady in Cordelia (UC Follies/U of T Dramafest) and Tessa in The Gondoliers (North Toronto Players). JANE DOE is her first proper foray into playwriting, and she’s excited beyond words to share it. Much thanks to Djanet Sears, Uri Livne-Bar, Nicole Eunji Bell, and Lauren Lacey for their invaluable insight and support.


If Julie Phan was a piece of art, she would be the Special Collectors Edition of the unauthorized Titanic sequel DVD. She is a Vietnamese-Chinese playwright, actor and pole artist based in Toronto, and is currently a first year playwriting student at the National Theatre School of Canada. She is best known for disappointing her father and her work with fu-GEN asian theatre company (double bill, fearless).


Sharon Enkin Plays For Young People Award – Shortlisted Playwrights


Makambe K. Simamba is a Dora award winning playwright and actor for her most recent solo work, Our Fathers, Sons, Lovers and Little Brothers (b current performing arts). Her previous solo show, A Chitenge Story (Handsome Alice Theatre) earned her a Betty Mitchell Award Nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Actress. Makambe has developed her works in several playwriting units including b current’s rock.paper.sistahz residency, the Obsidian Theatre playwright’s unit, the Alberta Theatre Projects playwright’s unit, The Banff Playwright’s Lab, and the Citadel Playwright’s Forum. She is currently co-playwright in residence with David van Bell at Workshop West Playwright’s Theatre in Edmonton. Makambe is a proud Zambian whose intention is to be of service to her community through her ability to tell stories.


Paula Zelaya-Cervantes is a Mexican playwright, director, and translator who  graduated from the University of British Columbia (UBC) with a double major in Theatre and Honours English Literature (2014). Playwriting and directing credits: The Orbweaver/El Hilador (Cento Cultural Teatro 2, Mexico City, 2018) (Centro Cultural Helénico, Mexico City, 2018) (Vancouver Fringe Festival International Mainstage Selection, 2016); Sasha & Spot (Teatro el Galeón, Mexico City 2018); and 245 Acts of Unspeakable Evil, which she co-wrote with Ana González Bello. She is currently under commission at Mexico’s National Theatre Company. Upcoming projects include directing Saúl Enríquez’ and Juan Villoro’s El hamster del presidente and Dennis Kelly’s Girls & Boys. Paula has received numerous awards and prizes for her creative work including: Cartelera de Teatro’s Awards for Best Playwriting and Best Direction for El Hilador; and, with Ana González Bello, the Latino National Playwright Award granted by the Arizona Theatre Company for 245 Acts of Unspeakable Evil, as well as one of five Scholarships for the Development of TV Series and Mini Series, granted by IMCINE (Mexico’s National Cinematography Institute). 


Linda A. Carson, a graduate of studio 58, has been a professional actor, writer and teacher for over 30 years. She has acted in theatres across Canada and written several plays, including Dying to Be Thin (Jessie Award), Mom’s The Word (co-wrote, Jessie Award), George And Martha (Adapted from James Marshal), Here to Hear, Jack and the Bean, So, How Should I Be? and her latest, Driving Me Crazy (Co-written with Suzanne Ristic). Linda’s latest acting credits include George and Martha (Carousel Players), Rocket and the Queen of Dreams (Roseneathe Theatre), Brighton Beach Memoirs (Theatre Northwest), Where the Wild Things Are (Presentation House Theatre) Sleeping Beauty Dreams (Marionetas de la Esquina) and Halfway to the North Pole (Miracle Theatre). Linda lives on Bowen Island, B.C. where she continues to write, teach and act for the theatre. 


The Lifetime Membership Award – Winner


Colleen Murphy won the Carol Bolt Award in 2019 for her play Pig Girl.  Her play The December Man (L’homme de décembre)won the 2007 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama, the CAA/Carol Bolt Award and the Enbridge Playwrights Award.  Other plays include Armstrong’s War, The Goodnight Bird, Beating Heart Cadaver(nominated for a 1999 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama), The Piper, Down in Adoration Falling and All Other Destinations are Cancelled. She won awards in the CBC Literary Competition and her distinct films have played in festivals around the world.Colleen is currently the 2014-17 Lee Playwright in Residence at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.  In 2011/12, she was the Canadian Playwright-in-Residence at Finborough Theatre in London, U.K., as well as Playwright-in-Residence at Factory Theatre in Toronto. She has been Writer in Residence at the University of Guelph, Wilfrid Laurier University, McMaster University and at the University of Regina. Upcoming: Armstrong’s Warat the Sudbury Theatre Centre in October 2016; Bright Burning, a U of A commission graduating BFA class premiering at the Timms Centre in Edmonton in 2017; Oksana G., with composer Aaron Gervais, premiering at Tapestry Opera in Toronto in May 2017, The Breathing Hole premiering at the Stratford Festival in 2017 and a clown version of Titus Andronicus titled Titus Bouffonius premiering at Rumble Theatre in Vancouver in 2017. It was also shortlisted for the 2018 Carol Bolt Award.


List of the Jury and Chair Bios

Carol Bolt Award – Chair and Jury

Jovanni Sy (Chair) is a playwright, director, and actor.

From 2012-2019, Jovanni was the Artistic Director of Gateway Theatre in Richmond, BC. Under his tenure, Gateway produced world premieres by Alison Kelly and Stacy Kaser; Kevin Loring, Quelemia Sparrow, and Sebastien Archibald; Peter Dickinson; Catherine Léger and Leanna Brodie, and Meghan Gardiner. From 2004-2009, Jovanni was the Artistic Director of Cahoots Theatre in Toronto. Under his tenure, Cahoots produced new works by Anosh Irani; Ahmed Ghazali and Bobby Theodore; Marjorie Chan; and Guillermo Verdecchia, Marcus Youssef, and Camyar Chai.

Jovanni’s latest play, NINE DRAGONS, was produced at Vertigo Theatre (Calgary), Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre (Winnipeg), and Gateway Theatre. It received the Jessie Richardson Award for Outstanding Original Script and was also nominated for a Betty Mitchell Award and a Winnipeg Theatre Award.

In 2010, Jovanni premiered his one-man play A TASTE OF EMPIRE in Toronto. It was nominated for two Dora Mavor Moore Awards including Outstanding New Play. A TASTE OF EMPIRE was remounted by Boca del Lupo Theatre in Vancouver in 2014 and 2015. It was then translated into Cantonese as 食盡天下 (A TASTE OF EMPIRE) by Derek Chan who premiered his adaptation (directed by Jovanni) at Gateway Theatre in 2016 and then revived it for Cahoots Theatre Company in 2018. The Toronto revival was nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Touring Production. Carmela Sison will translate A TASTE OF EMPIRE into Tagalog as LASANG IMPERYO.

Jovanni is a past Playwright-in-Residence at the Shaw Festival and Tapestry New Opera Works. Other writing credits include THE FIVE VENGEANCES, a comic kung-fu adapation of THE REVENGERS TRAGEDY and the libretti to the chamber operas, HAIKU MOMENTS and THE CELLAR DOOR. Other credits include SONG OF SONGS (Bravo! Television) and PEKING DUCK (CBC Radio Drama).

Jovanni’s directing credits include THE ORCHARD (AFTER CHEKHOV) (Arts Club Theatre); GOD OF CARNAGE, ANTIGONE, and BLACKBIRD (Theatre du Pif in Hong Kong); and YOGA PLAY, CLOSER THAN EVER, VALLEY SONG, and HARVEST (Gateway Theatre); and STITCH (Native Earth Performing Arts).

Jovanni has performed on stages from St. John’s to Whitehorse as well as in Hong Kong.


Natasha MacLellan has been developing new Canadian plays in Atlantic Canada around fifteen years. It started at Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre, where she mentored with Jenny Munday. From there, she co-founded Forerunner Playwrights Theatre in Halifax, which produced new Atlantic Canadian plays, including a few of her own, but most notably Catherine Banks’ Governor General Award winning Bone Cage. After spending six seasons as Artistic Producer of Ship’s Company Theatre, she has made the big move west, to Fredericton where she is the Artistic Director of Theatre New Brunswick. Natasha is on the Board of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres. 


Rahul Varma is a playwright and artistic director of Teesri Duniya Theatre, which he co-founded in 1981. In 1998, he co-founded the theatre quarterly cultural diversity and the stage. He writes both in Hindi and English, a language he acquired as an adult. Some of his recent plays are Land Where the Trees Talk, No Man’s Land, Trading Injuries (radio drama), Counter Offence, Bhopal, Truth and Treason and State of Denial.  Some of his  plays have been translated into French, Italian, Hindi and Punjabi. He is a recipient of Juror’s Award from the Quebec Drama Federation, award for promoting interculturalism by Montreal English Critic’s Circle, South Asian Theatre Festival Award, and Montreal English Theatre Award for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity.  He was a finalist for the QWF prize for Playwriting.  


Stage West Musical Award – Chairs and Jury


Kelley Jo Burke (Chair) is an award-winning playwright, creative nonfiction writer and documentarian, book editor and was for many years host/producer of CBC Radio’s SoundXchange. Her produced and published plays include the upcoming musical The Curst (with Library Voices, Dancing Sky Theatre, May, 2020), Us (with Jeffery Straker, Globe Theatre 2018), The Lucky Ones (DST, 2016), The Selkie Wife (DST and various, 2010), Ducks on the Moon (Curtain Razors, ongoing, 2009) and Charming and Rose: True Love (Nightwood Theatre, and various, 1993). 

She was the 2017 winner (with Jeff Straker) of Stage West Pechet Family Musical Award for Us, the 2009 winner of the Sask. Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for Leadership in the Arts, the winner of multiple City of Regina Writing Awards and the 2008 Saskatoon and Area Theatre Award for Playwriting.


Julie McIsaac is of French, Scottish/Irish and Norwegian ancestry, and grew up in Ontario on the territory of the Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee, and Anishinabek Nations. A versatile director, dramaturge, and creator of opera & theatre, credits include the international tour of Sum Theatre’s My Rabbi, the BC premiere of The Exquisite Hour (Playhouse Fringe award), Le nozze di Figaro (Opera Studio), Little Women, Pride and Prejudice and Harvey at the Chemainus Theatre Festival, and the multiple award-winning Poly Queer Love Ballad by Sara Vickruck and Anais West, which will have its Toronto premiere at Theatre Passe Muraille in November. She is also Associate Director of Corey Payette’s ground-breaking musical Children of God and former Artist-in-Residence at Pacific Opera Victoria, where she collaborated with Atom Egoyan, Maria Lamont and Peter Hinton on new productions of Jenůfa, La Bohème, and the world premiere of Brian Current and Marie Clements’ Missing. As a creator, she is the playwright and Jessie-award winning composer, music director and co-sound designer (with Jay Clift) of The Out Vigil; co-bookwriter/co-lyricist of Les Filles du Roi (with Corey Payette), which received 4 Jessie awards and the 2018 BroadwayWorld Vancouver award for Best New Work. Upcoming engagements include Taninli Wright’s Sis Ne’ Bi-Yïz: Mother Bear Speaks at the 2019 Heart of the City Festival, and Hansel and Gretel (COC).


Adam Sakiyama is a composer / lyricist based in Toronto. Recent theatre credits include Reprint (Musical Stage Co.), Next to Normal (Musical Stage Co. / Mirvish), Billy Elliot (Stratford). Composing credits include Quench (Axon Interactive) and in between (National Ballet of Canada). Songwriter for Super Simple Songs. Currently writing the score for Macbeth (Ballet Kelowna), premiering spring 2020. Adam is a proud member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Advanced Workshop.


Stage West Comedy Award – Chair and Jury


Rosemary Rowe (Chair) is playwright, essayist, blogger and performer whose plays, cabaret pieces and occasional donut performance art have been produced on stages across Canada. Most recently, her short play Anne and Diana were TOTALLY DOING IT was part of the Violet Surprise Festival in Chicago, her award-winning play about the Christian Patriarchy movement, The Good Bride, was produced at the Firehall Arts Centre in Vancouver and her play Benedetta Carlini – Lesbian Nun of Renaissance Italy!! was translated into Italian. Rose’s personal blog,, landed her a spot as national finalist on CBC Radio’s inaugural Canada Writes – on the same day as her wedding. She didn’t win the contest, but she did win at love.  Rose and her wife Kate live in Vancouver.


Trevor Reuger has been an actor, director, writer and dramaturg for over 30 years. For the past 10 years he has worked as the Executive Director of Alberta Playwrights’ Network, an organization devoted to the development of playwrights at all stages for all stages. In 2011 he received the Betty Mitchell Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance as Billy Bibbit in Theatre Calgary’s production of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. As an actor he’s been seen at Theatre Calgary, Lunchbox Theatre, Sage Theatre, Vertigo Theatre, Stage West and the Garry Theatre. Directing credits include, Medea and 33 Swoons for Rocky Mountain College, Courage for Lost Boy Productions, SHE and Matadora for Trepan Theatre, Heroes for Sage Theatre, When Girls Collide, Columbo: Prescription Murder and Columbo Takes The Rap for Vertigo Theatre and Ai Yah! Sweet & Sour Secrets, Life After Hockey and The Complete Works of W. Shakespeare (Abridged) for Lunchbox Theatre.  He was an ensemble member of Dirty Laundry and for 10 years was the writer/producer of the annual Betty Mitchell Awards for professional theatre in Calgary. He’s also been known to play the drums.


Nina Lauren completed a BA in Theatre at l’Université Laval and is currently working on her MFA, focusing on Meyerhold’s biomechanics and bunraku puppetry. Her extensive theatre training includes workshops at the Stella Adler Studio in NYC and the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space.  She performed in numerous shows at National Puppetry Conferences held at the Tony Award winning Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center. After teaching drama at the Collège Saint-Charles-Garnier in Québec she worked on many movies including four as a body double for Jennifer Lawrence. While filming, she enjoys writing and translating in her trailer.  In 2017, Nina’s co-translation of the play, Maestro, won the Tom Hendry Award for Best New Comedy.


RBC Emerging Playwright Award – Chair and Jury


Daniel Thau-Eleff (Chair) is a Winnipeg-based playwright, performer, director, workshop leader and artistic producer of the Moving Target Theatre Company.

Daniel calls his plays “personal-political,” meaning they explore large-scale issues through individual struggles. Plays include Narrow Bridge (premiering in 2020), Deserter, Good People Bad Things, King’s Park, Remember the Night and Three Ring Circus: Israel, the Palestinians and My Jewish Identity.

Daniel is the two-time winner of the Harry S Rintoul Award and, in 2018, Daniel was recognized for his theatre work with the Manitoba Human Rights Commitment Award.

Daniel has performed his solo-shows across Canada and parts of the United States including at SummerWorks (Toronto), Impact! (Kitchener-Waterloo), Prismatic (Halifax), Chutzpah! Fest (Vancouver), Fringe NYC and other Fringe Festivals and conferences.


PJ Prudat was born in a fierce snowstorm in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, Treaty 6 Territory.  She is of proud Métis, Cree, Saulteaux, Assiniboine, Scandinavian, French and Métis Nation (ancestral to Batoche and Red River) blood. She is a playwright, poet and writer of stories.  Indigenous people and stories of this land incite her as an artist. She was Playwright in Rez at Native Earth Performing Arts (2013/14 ), a playwright with Factory Theatre’s NRCG writer’s unit (2015) and a recipient of a Shaw Festival 2017 Christopher Newton Award for playwrighting.   She has been a company actor for both the National Arts Centre’s English Theatre Ensemble (2015/16) and the Shaw Festival Theatre. Theatre and Storytelling has gifted PJ the invaluable experience of performing and writing in sacred and vast-reaching communities across the nation. PJ is a recipient of the 2017 REVEAL Indigenous Art Award, a SATA award for playwrighting and a finalist for both the K.M. Hunter Award and the Cayle Chernin Award.


Conni Massing is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter. Recent stage credits include her romantic comedy Oh! Christmas Tree, (Roxy Performance Series/ Theatre Network); her playMatara, recently premiered at Workshop West Playwrights Theatre; Pants on Fire, The Mommy Monologues (Skirtsafire Festival); Night Shift, This is YEG and The Invention of Romance(Workshop West Playwrights Theatre), as well as her widely-produced stage adaptations of W.O Mitchell’s Jake and the Kid and Bruce Allen Powe’s The Aberhart Summer.  Conni has several publications to her credit, including six of her plays and a comic memoir, Roadtripping: On the Move with the Buffalo Gals (Brindle and Glass Publishing). Her writing has been recognized by AMPIA, the Academy of Cinema and Television, the Betty Mitchell Awards, the Writers Guild of Alberta and the Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards.


Robert Beardsley Award – Chair and Jury


Jeff Ho (Chair) is a Toronto-based theatre artist, originally from Hong Kong.  Favourite acting credits include: Ophelia in Prince Hamlet (Why Not Theatre National Tour: Canadian Stage, PuSh Festival, National Arts Centre), trace (Factory theatre/b current), Hana’s Suitcase (Tour: Toronto/Montreal/Seattle/YPT), Unknown Soldier (lemontree/Architect Theatre), Murderers Confess at Christmastime (OutsideTheMarch),  Kim’s Convenience (CBC), The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu), Orphan Black (BBC America). Upcoming: A remount and tour of trace, produced by Factory Theatre, as part of the National Arts Centres 50th Anniversary Season (2019/2020). 

As a playwright, his works include Iphigenia and the Furies (On Taurian Land), produced by Saga Collectif; Antigone: 方, produced by Young People’s Theatre; and trace, produced by Factory Theatre/ b current performing arts. He has held residencies with the Stratford Festival, Nightswimming, Cahoots, the Banff Playwrights Lab, Factory Theatre, and is the current Bulmash-Siegel Playwright in Residence with the Tarragon Theatre. His works are published by Playwrights Canada Press. 


Jeff is grateful to have been honoured with a Toronto Theatre Critics Award for Best New Canadian Play (Iphigenia); nominated for three Dora Awards, twice for Performance (Prince Hamlet, Hana’s Suitcase) and once as a Playwright (Iphigenia); a Harold Award (House of Nadia Ross). He is a graduate of the National Theatre School. 


Abby Charchun is a writer, director, curator and producer of live theatrical performances in Calgary, Canada. Her passion for the process behind the final product is what drives her work both in the drama classroom and as a theatre artist. Her current focus is on developing and supporting the creation/curation of original works by young artists. With devised theatre and improvisation leading the way, Abby sees a future for theatre in Canada that is bold, fresh and fearless. She views theatre as a vehicle for creating platforms for important and necessary conversations among all generations of Canadians. While her current lens is in supporting her drama students, witnessing them discover and experiment with freedom of personal artistic expression in her students is a pretty  amazing way to be spending her time these days.


Bilal Baig is a queer, trans-feminine, muslim playwright, director, actor and workshop facilitator. Writing credits include: Kitne Saare Laloo Yahan Pey Hain (as part of RARE Theatre’s Welcome to my Underworld), Khwaja Sera (in development at Buddies) and Acha Bacha (TPM/Buddies 2018). Bilal has directed work at the Rhubarb Festival, RISER Project and SummerWorks. Bilal facilitates story creation workshops in under-resourced communities and schools across Toronto through Story Planet, and facilitates anti-Islamophobia workshops in the GTA with the Rivers of Hope Collective.


Theatre for Young Audiences Award – Chair and Jury

Marjie Chud (Chair)
is a professional theatre artist, artist educator and arts administrator. She is currently the Resident Artist Educator, Lead and Director of the Junior Ensemble at Young People’s Theatre (YPT) where she has held other leadership positions including Acting Associate Artistic Director, Education; Education & Participation Curriculum Associate; Interim Community Volunteer Manager and Interim Drama School Director. Marjie has worked in partnership with a variety of communities, schools, and arts organizations including the National Arts Centre and the Canadian Opera Company. Along with designing and facilitating arts-based programming, Marjie supports established teaching artists with program development and mentors emerging teaching artists. She is currently a professor in the Arts Education and Community Engagement Graduate Certificate program at Centennial College. As an active member of the Ontario College of Teachers, she collaborates with educators to integrate drama into other subjects in the Ontario curriculum and to support social literacy in schools.


Jim Morrow is Managing Artistic Director of Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. He was first introduced to puppetry in 1978 when he joined Mermaid Theatre as a young performer. His twenty-two tours as a performer with Mermaid have taken him across North America, the United Kingdom, and Asia. He has directed, designed, and carved the puppets for stage, film, television, parks, and industry and has created twenty-four shows for Mermaid, including: Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See; Guess How Much I Love You & I Love My Little Storybook; Goodnight Moon & The Runaway Bunny; The Rainbow Fish; and the award-winning productions of Swimmy, Frederick & Inch by Inch and The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Other Eric Carle Favourites. Jim’s contributions to the community, both as artist and mentor, have earned him the Nova Scotia government’s highest award for artistic achievement, the Portia White Award; a Doctor of Humanities from his Alma Mater, Acadia University; the Order of Nova Scotia; and the Mickey Minor Award, presented annually by the US-based International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY) to distinguished artists who have made exemplary contributions to the lives of the children around the world. Jim is a respected teacher who regularly provides mentorship to established and emerging theatre artists and organizations, community groups, and to children of all ages, in his home province of Nova Scotia, throughout North America and around the world. Jim was born in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, lives in Lower Avonport, Nova Scotia, and is the proud father of four children (Kaitlin, Jacob, Cael, and Hannah).


Ian Ross is a writer living in Winnipeg Manitoba.  Besides Winnipeg, the community of Kinosota and the First Nation of Pinaymootang are also his homes.  His play, fareWel, won the Governor General’s Award for English Drama. He continues to live and write in Winnipeg with his wife Zsanett and daughter Julia.




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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