TORONTO, ON – Monday, November 2nd, 2020 – Last week, the winners of the Robert Beardsley Award, RBC Emerging Playwright Award, Sharon Enkin Theatre for Young Audiences Award, Playwrights Guild Comedy and Musical Awards, Carol Bolt Award, and Bra D’Or Award were announced at the Tom Hendry Awards online ceremony in partnership with The Arts and Letters Club of Toronto.
The Robert Beardsley Award Winner – Audrey Krieger-Pottruff
The Arts and Letters Club of Toronto Foundation gives an annual award to an emerging playwright under 25 years of age who lives in the GTA and is pursuing a postsecondary education. The Robert Beardsley Award was granted to Audrey Krieger-Pottruff for Tragedy: A Comedy. This award was sponsored and presented by the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto Foundation and administered by Playwrights Guild of Canada.
Jury: Yolanda Bonnell (Chair), Julia Lederer, and Myekah Payne.
The Bra d’Or Award Winner – Marjorie Chan
The Bra d’Or Award (BDA) recognizes an individual for his/her/their efforts in supporting and promoting the work of Canadian women playwrights. Recipients are nominated by PGC’s Women’s Caucus members, but the entirety of PGC’s membership votes on the winner. This year, Marjorie Chan, playwright and Artistic Director of Theatre Passe Muraille, was chosen as the recipient of the 2020 Bra d’Or Award. The BDA is sponsored by PGC’s Women’s Caucus, Playwrights Canada Press, and Scirocco Drama. Read the full press release HERE.
RBC Emerging Playwright Award Winner – Makram Ayache
Presented for best play by a PGC member who is an emerging playwright, the 2020 RBC Emerging Playwright Award was given to Makram Ayache for Harun. Second place was awarded to Megs Calleja for Twentysomething and third place to Gabe Maharjan for Eva in Rio. The RBC Emerging Playwright Award is sponsored by The RBC Emerging Artists Fund.
Jury: Muriel Hogue (Chair), Warona Setshwaelo, and Yvonne Wallace.
Sharon Enkin Theatre for Young Audiences Award Winner – Josh MacDonald
Presented to a PGC member for best new play intended for young audiences, the 2020 Sharon Enkin Theatre for Young Audiences Award was presented to Josh MacDonald for #I am the Cheese. Funding for the Sharon Enkin Theatre for Young Audiences Award was made possible with a generous donation from the Enkin Family.
Jury: Pablo Felices-Luna (Chair), Maggie Mercredi, and David Woods.
Playwrights Guild Comedy Award Winner – Paul Van Dyck
Presented annually to a PGC member for best new comedy, the 2020 Comedy Award was bestowed upon Paul Van Dyck for Siberian Summer. This year, the Comedy Award was sponsored by Playwrights Guild of Canada.
Jury: Jeff Pitcher (Chair), Rachel Peake, and Brie Watson.
Playwrights Guild Musical Award Winner – Sara Farb & Britta Johnson
Presented annually to a PGC member for best new musical, the 2020 Musical Award was given to Sara Farb and Britta Johnson for Kelly v. Kelly. The Musical Award was sponsored by Playwrights Guild of Canada this year.
Jury: Daniel Maté (Chair), Deanna Choi, and Farren Timoteo.
Carol Bolt Award Winner – Keith Barker
Presented for the best premiere production by a PGC member in the past year, the 2020 Carol Bolt Award was bestowed upon Keith Barker for This is How We Got Here. The Carol Bolt Award is sponsored by Alberta Playwrights’ Network, Manitoba Association of Playwrights, Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre, Playwrights Canada Press, Playwrights Guild of Canada, and the Playwright Theatre Centre.
Jury: Eda Holmes (Chair), Jennifer Dawn Bishop, and Jennifer Deon.
Synopses of Winning Plays
Robert Beardsley Award:
Tragedy: A Comedy by Audrey Krieger-Pottruff
After a frantic, disjointed writing session, four of Shakespeare’s tragic heroines come back to life in Shakespeare’s home. None too happy about having been killed off, Tragedy: A Comedy follows Ophelia, Juliet, Lady Macbeth, and Goneril as they bicker, banter, and eventually have their revenge.
RBC Emerging Playwright Award:
Harun by Makram Ayache
After Harun’s mother discovers he’s gay, she is killed in a tragic accident in Beirut. A year later, Harun is struck with a dystopian vision and a wilting Angel comes to him with a dire warning. As he and his friends organize a counter protest against a white-supremacist uprising, worse turns worse as the veil between the political and the spiritual thins.
Twentysomething by Megs Calleja
Twentysomething explores messy, heartbreaking moments between people who love each other deeply but have bittersweet timing. The vignette play explores four relationships shattered by abandonment, set in the exact moment of unwanted happenstance. Each reunion is inescapable as couples are trapped in elevators, rescue cabins, rooftops, and prison cells, forced to confront years of unsaid conversations. Twentysomething is an unapologetic look at the truth behind what we do for love, why we hurt those closest to us in the name of love, and what it means to sit in second chances. In “29 Floors,” fallen-out best friends Ted and Josie meet—and get stuck in—an elevator, four years after Ted abandoned their friendship with no warning. In “28 Clicks,” brothers Pete and Finn wind up in the same wilderness refuge cabin during a fluke storm while hiking independently, three years after Pete left and cut all ties with the family. In “27 Cards,” ex-fiancées Erin and Michael run into each other at a holiday party and wind up locked out on the rooftop in an effort to grab a smoke, two years after Erin left Michael at the altar. In “26 Cents,” first loves Bailey and Linden find themselves in the drunk tank together, having no contact for a year since Linden left Bailey a three-sentence breakup voicemail. And in “25 Hours,” a series of interwoven flashbacks follows each of the duos in the final hours leading up to a pivotal breaking point for their relationships.
Eva in Rio by Gabe Maharjan
Twenty-year old Eva wakes up in Rio de Janeiro to attain her final form. With her gender confirmation surgery scheduled for that day, she goes on a last-ditch attempt to secure some vitamin D before her 8-week post-surgical celibacy. Along the way, she encounters larger-than-life characters in this wonderland––from instagramming with soundcloud rap star Christ the Redeemer, to getting caught in the flashing lights of the paparazzi. When her perfect man and perfect body aren’t enough, her surreal ambitions fall apart as she’s brought back to reality. In the hyper-sexualized gender-negative culture she’s grown up in, how will Eva reconcile the difference between her 20-year old fantasy self and the teenage life she is living?
Sharon Enkin Theatre For Young Audiences Award:
#IAMTHECHEESE by Josh MacDonald
#IAMTHECHEESE is a reimagining of the 1977 novel for young adults, originally written by American author Robert Cormier. In the play, now set in 2019, a badly traumatized teenager named ADAM FARMER struggles to recall deeply suppressed memories of his past, through a series of interviews with a female analyst named BRINT. Beginning with just a wisp of a children’s nursery rhyme—“The Farmer in the Dell”—Adam begins to reassemble his sense of self, bit by bit. Eventually, Adam remembers the social stigma of his preteen years, when his parents inexplicably banned the use of the internet: no cellphones, no computer, no wifi, etc.. But Adam dares to begin a relationship with a girl from his school named AMY HERTZ, and it’s a relationship which blooms in cyberspace (via public access computers at the library). The more that Adam remembers about Amy, however, and about his own parents, the closer the boy comes to recognizing that a massive, faceless danger might be surrounding him still…
Playwrights Guild Comedy Award:
Siberian Summer by Paul Van Dyck
Siberian Summer is a comedy about three retired women and one of their sons on a journey of self-discovery as they travel the Trans-Siberian Railway from St. Petersburg to Beijing.
The story follows Louise, Beatrice, and Deborah, as they drink, laugh, and bicker their way across a continent. Along for the ride is Peter, Deborah’s apathetic son who’s waiting a little too patiently for his life to begin. The cast of characters is rounded off with Sonya, their formidable young Russian tour guide who refuses to sugarcoat her controversial country.
As Louise deals with her drinking problem by having another drink, Beatrice can’t get over the death of her husband, who was apparently more boring alive than dead. Meanwhile Deborah forces Peter to keep carrying her baggage, figuratively and literally, as Sonya seems to carry the weight of a corrupt country on her shoulders. But between the five of them, they discover that through love and friendship life’s adventure is far from over, no matter what your age.
From Lenin’s Tomb to Lake Baikal, from the Gobi Desert to The Great Wall of China, Siberian Summer is part history lesson, part geography lesson, and all life lesson.
Playwrights Guild Musical Award:
Kelly v. Kelly by Sara Farb & Britta Johnson
Inspired by true events from 1915 in New York, KELLY v. KELLY reveals the story of a mother and daughter divided by passion, money, and what it means to be an autonomous woman at a time of huge societal change.
Eugenia Kelly was an heiress in New York in 1915 who lived with her dominating single mother, Helen. At age nineteen, Eugenia felt the lure of the new tango craze sweeping New York City and began sneaking out at night to attend tango clubs. There, she became acquainted with liquor, cigarettes, and the seductive tango dancer, Al Davis.
Helen Kelly was apoplectic. Eugenia started coming home at three and four in the morning on a nightly basis, showing no regard for her social standing or for her own mother. Helen begged her to stop but Eugenia wouldn’t listen. Finally, after trying everything she could, Helen had her daughter arrested on charges of incorrigibility and had her tried in a court of law. The trial captivated and scandalized the city.
KELLY v. KELLY is about how hard it is for children to imagine the emotional lives of their parents, the gulf between childhood and adulthood, and adolescence ending before it has begun.
The Carol Bolt Award:
This is How we Got Here by Keith Barker
It’s been a year since Paul and Lucille’s son Craig committed suicide, and their once-solid family bonds are starting to break down. While the now-separated couple tries to honour their son, Lucille’s sister Liset and her husband Jim refuse to discuss their nephew. The ties that keep the four together as sisters, best friends, and spouses are strained by grief and guilt… until a visit from a fox changes everything.
Audrey Krieger-Pottruff is an aspiring theatre, film, and television writer based out of Toronto, Ontario. She is currently studying to obtain her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Screenwriting and Gender and Women’s Studies from York University. She has written and directed several short films, and written several plays including the Waterloo County English Award winning, Tragedy: A Comedy. She is passionate about feminism and many other social issues that she aims to explore through her writing.
Marjorie Chan is a multi-disciplinary theatre artist working as playwright, librettist, director and dramaturge. A nine-time nominee, Marjorie is the recipient of four Toronto Dora Awards, (one for Outstanding Performance and three for Outstanding New Opera). In 2005, she was named the K.M. Hunter Theatre Artist, an Ontario-wide award for mid-career artists. In 2017, she was awarded the George Luscombe Mentorship in Theatre Award from Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts. Marjorie was previously Artist-in-Residence at Banff Playwrights’ Lab, Cahoots Theatre, Factory Theatre, Theatre Direct Canada, Tapestry New Opera, SUNY (Geneseo, New York), and Theatre du Pif (Hong Kong).
Makram Ayache is a community-engaged playwright, performer, anti-oppression educator, and activist who splits his time between Edmonton and Toronto. His playwriting currently explores meaningful representation of queer Arab voices and his relationship to Lebanon. He creates culturally specific work that speaks to a Canadian context. His plays have been workshopped at the Banff Centre through the Playwrights’ Lab, have been independently produced in Alberta and Ontario, and have been nominated for several awards including four Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, he acted as co-devisor and Story Weaver with Azumith Theatre’s devised project, All That Binds Us, directed by Reneltta Arluk, and in collaboration with Jenna Rodgers, Lebogang Disele, and Amena Shehab. Currently, he is developing his latest play, The Hooves Belonged to the Deer, through a commission by the Alberta Queer Calendar Project. Find him at www.makramayache.com.
Megs Calleja is a Canadian-Maltese performing artist and writer. Born in Toronto, she discovered community musical theatre programs at a young age, and her deep love of reading encouraged her to craft a career focused in the arts. Having trained across the globe in the theatre arts, she has also lived an academic life learning human behaviour, anthropology, and environmental studies. Megs remembers overwhelming moments of insecurity and anxiety throughout her childhood, and her first memory of feeling confident was on stage, auditioning for a sixth grade play. Writing and performing has been her way of making sense of the world around and inside her. Megs finds no greater joy than combining writing and acting, and starred as Josie in Twentysomething’s 2019 world premiere. She has also written her first young adult fantasy novel, Acorns & Roots, published October 2020. Megs is inspired by the space between the words, dark comedies, the skipping of a heartbeat, and the beauty in its break. In her spare time she dances ballet at her kitchen counter, teaches acting for kids and teens, and crochets many blankets.
Gabe Maharjan (they/them) is a playwright and performer originally from Tiotiá:ke / Montreal. They graduated from the Dome Performance Program in 2017, and has since gone through the Black Theatre Workshop’s Artist Mentorship Program, Playwrights’ Workshop Montreal’s (PWM) Young Creators Unit (where they started writing Eva), as well as PWM’s Translation Mentorship in partnership with CEAD. They recently participated in the Buddies in Bad Times Emerging Creators Unit in Tkarón:to/Toronto, where they co-created and presented a CCA-supported Digital Original called E-TRANSFERS with Merlin Simard. They are currently developing a commissioned TYA adaptation for Geordie Theatre, as well as an adaptation of a Hesse novel as artist-in-residence at Imago Theatre. Select performance credits include La Somnambule (META nominated – Lead Performance), the award winning Bouffon Fringe show Don’t Read the Comments (Sermo Scomber), and Primus Vita (Epsilon Games). Find out more about Gabe at gabemaharjan.com.
Josh MacDonald is the award-winning writer of the feature films THE CORRIDOR (IFC Films) and FAITH, FRAUD & MINIMUM WAGE (eOne Entertainment). His short film as a writer-director, GAME, has won prizes at festivals worldwide, been acquired by Blumhouse’s CryptTV, and viewed over a million times online. Josh’s stage plays HALO, WHEREVERVILLE, and THE MYSTERY PLAY have been produced at home and around North America, been published by Talonbooks, and become curriculum titles in high schools and universities. Josh has written series television for the CBC, the National Film Board, the Smithsonian Channel, Reelz, Blue Ant, AMI, Eastlink and Teletoon. Josh has taught screenwriting and playwriting at NSCAD and Dalhousie University, respectively. He is also a professional actor for the stage and screen.
Paul Van Dyck is a writer, director, performer, and Artistic Director of Rabbit in a Hat Productions, a Montreal based theatre company with a mandate to produce new Canadian plays. Paul’s work has been presented across Canada and around the world. He has received numerous awards including The Revelation Award (Montreal English Critics Circle), Outstanding Direction (Montreal English Theatre Awards), and Best Production (New York Frigid Festival, Atlantic Fringe Festival, and Montreal Fringe Festival).
Paul is a past participant of the Shaw Festival’s Neil Munro Intern Directors Project, the Lincoln Center generated Directors Lab North in Toronto, Directors Lab Mediterranean in Beirut, and was a past National Forum Representative of Quebec for the Playwrights Guild of Canada. Presently, Paul is pursuing a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. Contact him at www.paulvandyck.ca
Sara Farb (book writer) and Britta Johnson (composer/lyricist) met in 2014 when they were paired up as part of the Musical Stage Company’s Noteworthy program and have been friends and collaborators ever since. They were nominated for a Dora award for their short musical, “He Is Coming” as part of Musical Stage Company’s Reframed, presented at the AGO. Britta has worked on numerous award-winning productions with many collaborators including her original musical Life After, which had an award-winning run at Canadian Stage before opening at the Old Globe in San Diego. It is set to open at Washington’s Arena Stage in 2021. Sara recently returned from a year on Broadway in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and has spent five seasons at Stratford as an actor. Her original one-woman show, R-E-B-E-C-C-A, premiered at Theatre Passe-Muraille and Bremen Rock City, for which she wrote the book, and is available for license and has been performed by youth theatres across Ontario.
Keith Barker is a Métis artist from Northwestern Ontario and the Artistic Director of Native Earth Performing Arts. He is a graduate of the George Brown Theatre School and has worked as a Theatre Program Officer at the Canada Council for the Arts. He is a recipient of a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play, a SAT Award for Excellence in Playwriting, and a Yukon Arts Audience Award for Best Art for Social Change. His play This is How We Got Here was a 2018 Finalist for the Governor General Award for Drama. Keith is the Co-General Manager of his Arts League Hockey team, The Friendly Giants, and is a below average player.
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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