TORONTO, ON – Monday, October 28th, 2019 – Last night, the winners of the Carol Bolt Award, RBC Emerging Playwright Award, Stage West Comedy and Musical Awards, Sharon Enkin Plays for Young People Award, Robert Beardsley Award, Bra d’Or Award and PGC’s Lifetime Membership Award were announced at the Tom Hendry Awards ceremony at The Arts and Letters Club of Toronto.
Carol Bolt Award Winner – Amy Rutherford
Presented for the best work premiered by a PGC member in the past year, the 2019 Carol Bolt Award was bestowed on Amy Rutherford for Mortified. The Carol Bolt Award is 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.
Jury: Jovanni Sy (Chair), Rahul Varma, and Natasha MacLellan.
RBC Emerging Playwright Award Winner – Jesse LaVercombe
Presented for the best play by a PGC member who is an emerging playwright, the 2019 RBC Emerging Playwright Award was given to Jesse LaVercombe for Hallelujah, It’s Holly. Second place was awarded to Gillian Clark for Harmony Mall and third place to Elyse Friedman for The Cole Porter Suite. The RBC Emerging Playwright Award is sponsored by The RBC Emerging Artists Fund.
Jury: Daniel Thau-Eleff (Chair), PJ Prudat, and Conni Massing.
The Robert Beardsley Award Winner – Julie Phan
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 Julie Phan for Fine China. This award was sponsored and presented by the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto Foundation and administered by Playwrights Guild of Canada.
Jury: Jeff Ho (Chair), Bilal Baig, and Abby Charchun.
Stage West Musical Award Winner – Daniel Abrahamson & Ashley Botting
Presented annually to a PGC member for best musical in development, the 2019 Musical Award was given to Daniel Abrahamson & Ashley Botting for Stars of Mars. The Stage West Musical Award is sponsored by the Stage West Pechet Family.
Jury: Kelley Jo Burke (Co-Chairs), Julie McIsaac, and Adam Sakiyama.
Stage West Comedy Award Winner – Kristen Da Silva
Presented annually to a PGC member for best comedy in development, the 2019 Comedy Award was bestowed upon Kristen Da Silva for Hurry Hard. The Stage West Comedy Award is sponsored by the Stage West Pechet Family.
Jury: Rosemary Rowe (Chair), Nina Lauren, and Trevor Rueger.
Sharon Enkin Plays For Young People Award Winners – Paula Zelaya-Cervantes & Ana Gonzáles-Bello
Presented to a PGC member for best play intended for young audiences, the 2019 Sharon Enkin Plays For Young People Award was presented to Paula Zelaya-Cervantes & Ana Gonzáles-Bello for 245 Acts of Unspeakable Evil. The Sharon Enkin Plays For Young People Award was sponsored by the Enkin Family.
Jury: Marjie Chud (Chair), Ian Ross, and Jim Morrow.
Bra d’Or Award Winner – Pamela Halstead
The Bra d’Or Award (BDA) recognizes an individual for his/her/their efforts in supporting and promoting the work of Canadian women playwrights. The Women’s Caucus of the Playwrights Guild of Canada instigated the BDA in 2006. The recipient must be nominated and voted on by Women’s Caucus. PGC is pleased to announce that the winner of this year’s Bra d’Or Award is Pamela Halstead.
The Lifetime Membership Award – Colleen Murphy
The Lifetime Membership Award is awarded to an individual or organization for their outstanding body of work and contribution to the Canadian playwriting community. The recipient 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.
Synopses of Winning Plays
The Carol Bolt Award:
Mortified by Amy Rutherford
A 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…
RBC Emerging Playwright Award:
Hallelujah, It’s Holly by Jesse LaVercombe
A 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.
Harmony Mall by Gillian Clark
Diana 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 Cole Porter Suite by Elyse Friedman
The Cole Porter Suite is a dramedy about a group of friends who travel to New York City to celebrate the completion of chemo for one of them. 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.
Stage West Musical Award:
Stars of Mars by Daniel Abrahamson & Ashley Botting
Stars 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.
Stage West Comedy Award:
Hurry Hard by Kristen Da Silva
When 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, they’ll have to call a cease-fire on the war of the sexes and unite as one team.
Robert Beardsley Award:
Fine China by Julie Phan
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:
245 Acts of Unspeakable Evil by Paula Zelaya-Cervantes & Ana González-Bello
It’s 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 she may 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Daniel Abrahamson Daniel 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.
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.
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)
Paula Zelaya-Cervantes is a Mexican playwright, director, and translator. She 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).
Ana González-Bello studied acting at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and Drama Centre London at Central Saint Martins, graduating with a Yat Malgrem Scholarship and a Leverhulme Scholarship, which are awarded to international students for excellence.
In 2013 she won the Georgi Markov prize for Most Promising Script at the BBC’s International Radio Playwriting Competition. In 2015 she was the recipient of the Mexican Association of Theatre Critics’ Best Actress Newcomer Award, and in 2017 she won the Best Emerging Actress Award at the United Solo Festival in New York for the play she co-wrote with Paula Zelaya Cervantes, 245 Acts of Unspeakable Evil. This same play recently received the National Latinx Playwriting Award by the Arizona Theatre Company.
Pamela Halstead is the Artistic Director of Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre (PARC) and Halifax’s DMVTHEATRE as well as Coordinator for Theatre Nova Scotia’s PERFORM program. Pamela is the former Artistic Producer of Ship’s Company Theatre (Parrsboro) and Lunchbox Theatre (Calgary). In 10 years between these two companies she dramaturged, directed and/or produced over 60 productions, primarily premieres of new works. Pamela received the inaugural Evans Award (Calgary Critics’ Awards) for her contribution to the vibrancy of Calgary’s theatre community. She is currently nominated for the 2019 PGC Bra d’Or Award which celebrates an individual who supports and promotes the work of Canadian women playwrights.
Colleen Murphy, was born in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, in 1954 and grew up in Northern Ontario. Her radio drama Fire Engine Red won third prize in the CBC Literary Competition in 1985, and that same year she was invited to join the Playwrights Unit at Tarragon Theatre. In 1987 Tarragon produced her first play All Other Destinations Are Cancelled.
In 1990, she won second prize in the CBC Literary Competition for her radio drama Pumpkin Eaters, and her screenplay Termini Station was nominated for a Genie for Best Screenplay. Inspired by a trip she made to Auschwitz, Colleen wrote and directed her first short film Putty Worm that premiered at the 1993 Int’l Toronto Film Festival. As a 1994 director resident at the Canadian Film Centre, she completed her second short The Feeler which played at many festivals, won a Golden Sheaf Award for Best Performance (Randy Hughson) at the 1996 Yorkton Film Festival and was nominated for a Genie for Best Short Film.
In 1995 Colleen directed her first feature, Shoemaker for The Feature Film Project at the Canadian Film Centre. The film premiered at the 1996 Toronto Int’l Film Festival, and played in film festivals around the world. It won the Audience Prize and shared the Ecumenical Jury Prize at the 1997 Internationales Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg, and was nominated for three Genie Awards.
In 1996, she became one of three Playwrights-in-Residence at Necessary Angel Theatre in Toronto. Richard Rose directed her third play Beating Heart Cadaver in 1998. The play was nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama and a Chalmers Award.
She shot Desire in 1999, a co-production with her company Subjective Eye (Toronto), Buffalo Gal Pictures (Winnipeg), and Bioskop Film (Munich). A compromised version of the film premiered at the 2000 Toronto Int’l Film Festival and also opened the 2000 Internationales Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg. The film was nominated for two Genies – Best Leading Actress and Best Leading Actor. Her short film War Holes premiered at the 2001 Internationales Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg then went on to the Commonwealth Film Festival in Manchester, U.K, and the Festival Tres Courts in France.
In 2002, her fourth play, The Piper, was produced by Necessary Angel Theatre in Toronto. Colleen produced another short film, Girl with Dog which premiered at the 2006 Festival des Films Monde in Montreal and had its European premiere at Internationales Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg. In 2007 it was exhibited at Int’l Film Festival Rotterdam and also at FIPA – Int’l Festival of Audiovisual Programs in Biarritz, France.
In 2006, her play, The December Man (L’homme de décembre) won the 2006 Enbridge playRites Award. The play premiered at Alberta Theatre Projects at the Enbridge playwrights Festival of New Canadian Plays in 2007 under the direction of Bob White. It won the 2007 Governor General’s Literary Award for English Language Drama and was nominated for a Betty Mitchell Award for Outstanding New Play. It also won the Canadian Author’s Association/Carol Bolt Award for Drama in 2008.
Neil McPherson, Artistic Director of Finborough Theatre in London, UK, invited Colleen to be Canadian Playwright in Residence for 2011 and 2012. He produced three of her plays, including the premiere of The Goodnight Bird. In the summer of 2013, Finborough Theatre mounted a workshop production of Colleen’s play Armstrong’s War, directed by Jennifer Bakst. It received rave reviews. The play had its world premiere in the fall of 2013 at the Arts Club Theatre in Vancouver under the direction of Mindy Parfitt and opened to very strong reviews. Also that fall, Bradley Moss directed the world premiere of Colleen’s play Pig Girl at Theatre Network in Edmonton. The production starred Nadien Chu, Randy Hughson, Elinor Holt and Brian Dooley, and garnered excellent reviews.
Pig Girl won the 2016 Governor General’s Literary Award for English Language Drama. In 2017, Colleen had four world premieres. Bright Burning, now known as I Hope My Heart Burns First, a play commissioned by the University of Alberta Drama Department as part of their Lee Playwright in Residence, opened in February at the Timms Centre in Edmonton. Oksana G.– composed by Aaron Gervais – was produced by Tapestry Opera and had its premiere at the Imperial Oil Theatre in Toronto. In the summer of 2017, the Stratford Festival premiered The Breathing Hole on the Studio Stage, and in November, Rumble Theatre produced the premiere of The Society Of The Destitute Presents Titus Bouffonius. In 2010 and 2011, Colleen was the Canadian Playwright-in-Residence at Finborough Theatre in London, U.K. She has been Playwright-in-Residence at Necessary Angel Theatre and Factory Theatre in Toronto, as well Playwright-in-Residence at the University of Regina in 2006/7, the Mabel Pugh Taylor Writer-in-Residence at McMaster University in 2010, Writer-in-Residence at the University of Guelph in 2011, the Edna Staebler Laurier Writer-in-Residence at Wilfrid Laurier University in 2014. Recently she completed three years as the Lee Playwright-in-Residence at the University of Alberta and currently she is Writer in Residence at the University of New Brunswick.
In 2017 she was awarded a New Chapter Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts for a large play entitled The Geography of Fire / La géographie et sa furie.
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.
Media Contact: Robin Sokoloski,
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