News (Edmonton): Concrete Theatre Welcomes New Artistic Leadership

Concrete Theatre: Rehearsal for Change

It is with great excitement that Concrete Theatre’s Board of Directors announces new artistic leadership for the company, after the departure of Mieko Ouchi as Artistic Director in November. They are thrilled to return once again to a Co-Artistic team leadership model, this time made up of two wonderful and multi-talented Edmonton based artists: Tracy Carroll and Corben Kushneryk.

Both come to the company with long term relationships already built with Concrete, including working previously with the company as directors, stage managers, performers, educators and facilitators.

In particular, Tracy Carroll is well known for her work across the city as a director and dramaturg, and her passionate focus on TYA and new play development. Her background includes work as Artistic Associate at the Citadel in charge of the ATCO KidsPlay @ The Citadel Series, as well as work as the Artistic Associate-North for APN. She currently co-helms Script Salon with Katherine Koller.

“I am thrilled and honoured to be joining Concrete Theatre as Co-Artistic Director with the amazingly talented Corben Kushneryk,” said Tracy. “With a relationship that goes back 20 years starting as a workshop facilitator, then director of the award-winning Lig & Bittle, creator of Concrete’s school residency program Acting Our Colours and writer of many a study guide, I’ve been a part of almost every aspect of Concrete over the years with the great support and encouragement of Mieko Ouchi and Caroline Howarth. I am humbled to be stepping in to a company with such a rich history of high quality Theatre for Young People, and look forward to continuing the development and presentation of new works for children and families.”

Corben Kushneryk is one of the city’s most exciting emerging director/producers, known for his work with his local indie company Impossible Mongoose who have developed and produced the critically acclaimed Prophecy, as well as featured roles as an actor and singer at theatres including the Citadel, the Arts Club, the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Concrete Theatre and many others.

“I am absolutely delighted to return to Concrete Theatre, this time in the exciting new position of Co- Artistic Director! I couldn’t be happier to team up with the warm-hearted and sharp-minded Tracy Carroll, as we continue dreaming up relevant and engaging theatre for young audiences,” said Corben. “For Concrete, I’ve worn the hat of performer, facilitator, stage manager, and director, and each new experience has provided me an opportunity for personal and professional growth. I am grateful for the guidance of outgoing AD, Mieko Ouchi, and I am happy to have her join the ever-supportive Caroline Howarth as one of our Artistic Associates. As we continue to grapple with so many social and public health issues, I look forward to connecting with more world-class artists and helpers in our community.”

The Board and Staff at Concrete are absolutely thrilled to welcome Corben and Tracy to the Concrete Theatre family, and will be working alongside Mieko Ouchi on the transition of leadership over the upcoming few months.

News (National): NAC Announces Partnership with Black Theatre Workshop

National Arts Centre logo

On Wednesday, December 9, National Arts Centre English Theatre, in partnership with Black Theatre Workshop, announced an unprecedented shared curation model for the national stage.
Beginning in the 2021–22 season, NAC English Theatre has committed to the annual appointment of a Co-Curating Company in Residence, with the pilot invitation for a Black-mandated theatre organization to envision their mandate through a national lens.
As the inaugural Co-Curating Company in Residence, Black Theatre Workshop (BTW) will have agency over half of English Theatre’s programming resources for the 2021–22 season. Black Theatre Workshop, the oldest Black theatre company in Canada, will have the opportunity to envision its mandate of fostering and showcasing Black Canadian art and artists on a national scale.
In light of recent calls for substantial change in our industry, and recognizing the significant lack of resources and opportunities available to Black artists in Canada, NAC English Theatre engaged members of the IBPoC arts community to guide us in a response. The catalysing force of Ravi Jain and his team from Why Not Theatre, along with advisors Audrey Dwyer and Mike Payette, worked alongside the leadership of NAC English Theatre to develop the model of the Co-Curating Company and the process to select the organization each year.
The Montreal-based Black Theatre Workshop has a long history with NAC English Theatre, presenting and co-producing several productions over the last several seasons. Works that have graced the NAC stage include Angélique (co-produced with Tableau D’Hôte Theatre), The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God (in association with co-producers NAC English Theatre and Centaur Theatre Company) and coming in the spring of 2021, their performance of Black and Blue Matters – Track 1: No one Gives a F**k about a Cop, will be a part of NAC English Theatre’s Grand Acts of Theatre.
“The solid history of the company, the current artists they engage, and excellent artistic work that our NAC audiences have come to expect from Black Theatre Workshop, sets us up for a great year to come,” said NAC English Theatre Artistic Director Jillian Keiley.
In addition, Black Theatre Workshop will participate in the process of identifying the next Co-Curating Company for the 2022-23 season.
“This is the time for Black stories to be seen and heard on all stages across the country. We need these stories now more than ever, and this shared curation model affords us the chance to expand the BTW mandate, providing more opportunities to Black artists and bringing even more stories from Black communities to Canadian audiences,” said Black Theatre Workshop Artistic Director Quincy Armorer. 

Theatre Alberta Announces A Change In The Artstrek Leadership Team

Theatre Alberta is excited to announce an important change in the Artstrek leadership team–we welcome Jenna Rodgers to the Artstrek Director role, as we thank Marie Gynane-Willis for her leadership and stewardship over the years.
Artstrek is Theatre Alberta’s annual summer theatre school that offers an integrated theatre arts curriculum for Albertan teens. Since its inception in 1960, thousands of students from across the province have attended to learn performance and creativity skills in a safe and inclusive environment. We’re proud of Artstrek’s legacy, and of these two incredible people who have and will contribute to its continued success.

First to thank Marie:

We are humbled by the contributions Marie has made to both Artstrek and Theatre Alberta. Her connection to Artstrek goes back decades, beginning as an instructor in 1983. Before becoming Artstrek Director, Marie served as Theatre Alberta’s Executive Director from 2003 to 2010. Her extraordinary abilities in that role, as well as her continuing support of the arts community as a whole, were recognized in 2004 with an Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Award for Arts Administration and an Alberta Centennial Medal for Contribution to the Arts in 2006. In 2016, under Marie’s leadership, Arstrek was awarded an Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Award for Outstanding Contribution to Theatre in Edmonton.

Marie’s impact on Artstrek is indelible. Her knowledge of the program’s long history, her deep connections to the arts community in Alberta, and her gift for diplomacy are all great strengths that have enriched Artstrek during her tenure. Perhaps her greatest strength, however, is her heart. Her deep love of Artstrek, its staff, and every single student that attended is an enduring legacy that will undoubtedly resonate long into the school’s future.
“Each summer hundreds of teenagers from across Alberta tell us they come “home” to Artstrek. It’s no coincidence that Marie Gynane-Willis comes from a home building family. Marie has seen Artstrek from blueprints through renovations and additions, always focussed on what makes a home so special, a safe space to live your fullest life with room to grow. On behalf of all of us who’ve had the opportunity to watch thousands of young Albertans discover their potential and passion for theatre during Marie’s tenure, thank you, Marie. It has been an immeasurable honour.”
~ Keri Mitchell, Executive Director, and Kelly Reay, Board President

And to welcome Jenna:

Jenna Rodgers is well known throughout the Alberta theatre community. She is respected as a director, dramaturg, and passionate arts equity advocate. Jenna is the founding Artistic Director of Chromatic Theatre, and the Dramaturg at the Banff Playwright’s Lab at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. She is also a founding member of the Consent and Respect in Theatre Collective, a co-contributor to The 35//50 Initiative, and recent Board President of Theatre Alberta. We’re proud to say that Jenna is an Artstrek alumnus and a former “Super Super.”
“Jenna’s contributions to Theatre Alberta—first as an Artstrek Supervisor and more recently as a volunteer on our New Pathways for the Arts team and our Board of Directors—have strengthened the organization in many exciting ways. And so many more artists and theatre companies across Alberta and Canada (and further!) would say the same! Jenna’s clear vision for a more just, equitable, and inclusive future for all of us, but especially for Artstrek students, is offered with infectious generosity and accountability. We are beyond thrilled to continue working with Jenna in this new capacity.”
~ Keri Mitchell, Executive Director, and Kelly Reay, Board President
We are excited for Jenna to share her experience, vision, and leadership skills with Artstrek. We’re also certain that the characteristic Artstrek values – inclusivity, camaraderie, creativity, fun – that have made it a defining experience for so many students over the program’s 60 year history will continue to thrive under her leadership.
We offer our most profound gratitude to Marie for sharing her wisdom and guidance with us over the last 17+ years, and we know that we will continue to work with her in new and exciting ways in the future. To Jenna, we offer an enthusiastic welcome. We look forward to working together with her to continue offering exceptional learning opportunities to the next generation of theatre artists through the Artstrek program.
We are making plans for Artstrek 2021 with a heartfelt hope that we will be able to gather again next summer, but we do so with the conviction that we will not risk or compromise the health and safety of staff and students. Watch for more Artstrek announcements in the near future. In the meantime please stay safe, and stay healthy.

News (Calgary): Zach Running Coyote Joins Theatre Calgary as Artistic Associate

Theatre Calgary is pleased to announce that Zach Running Coyote has joined us as an Artistic Associate through the ROZSA Foundation IBPOC Arts Leaders Residency Grant.
I’m thrilled to join Theatre Calgary as we continue to find new ways to bring hope, joy and sorrow to Calgarians. I look forward to sharing knowledge and ideas and learning what it means to be an artistic leader in our constantly shifting landscape. Wela’lin /Thank you to the ROZSA Foundation and Theatre Calgary for believing in me, and making this journey possible!” – Zach Running Coyote
This opportunity for Zach will provide high-impact leadership-focused learning and mentorship from our artistic and executive teams over the next year.
Zach has such a strong understanding of narrative, culture, and theatre. He possesses a burning passion to create stories that move, touch, and inspire,” says Artistic Director Stafford Arima. “Being able to share time together exploring theatre art creates an opportunity for Zach to not only learn from Theatre Calgary, but Theatre Calgary to learn from him. I cannot wait to see the fruits of this collaboration.
Prior to joining us, Zach was cast this past summer as Romeo in our Shakespeare by the Bow online presentation of Romeo & Juliet.  His show Snowblind, was recently seen at Lunchbox Theatre, along with productions at Rosebud Theatre.
As a leader in the arts, we always need to be looking towards the future and to identify artistic leadership. Zach is one of those talented young artists who will be one of our next generation of great storytellers,” says Maya Choldin, Executive Director. “This opportunity provided by the Rosza Foundation will help shape our company, and our theatre community for years to come.

News (National): Tara Beagan Named 2020 Laureate of the Siminovitch Prize

Siminovitch Prize

Ntlaka’pamux playwright Tara Beagan has been named the 2020 laureate of the Siminovitch Prize, the largest and most prestigious theatre prize in Canada. Ms. Beagan will receive $75,000, and $25,000 will go to her selected protégée, Joelle Peters.

Ms. Beagan, who is based in Mohkinstis (Calgary), is proud to be Ntlaka’pamux and, through her late father’s side, of Irish ancestry. She is now Playwright In Residence at Prairie Theatre Exchange (Winnipeg). Seven of her 32 plays have been published, two of which received Dora Award nominations (one win). In 2020, her play Honour Beat won the Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for Drama.

“Every Indigenous theatre maker to this point has created this moment, just by doing the hard work of existing,” said Ms Beagan. “Young Indigenous makers, you are the culmination of all your ancestors. Hold strong, check in with the earth and sky and remember that so many are walking with you.”
The 2020 Siminovitch Prize Foundation jury of peers was comprised of Chair Vanessa Porteous (Calgary), Jessica Carmichael (Montreal), Julie McIsaac (Toronto/British Columbia), Olivier Sylvestre (Montreal) and Donald Woo (Toronto).
“Tara Beagan’s nominator, Michelle Thrush, aptly describes her as ‘a word lover and a carrier of stories,’’ said Jury Chair Vanessa Porteous. “Beagan herself sees theatre as ‘sacred work.’ During jury deliberations, there was palpable excitement in the room whenever Beagan’s work came up. It hits you in your heart and in your body. The jury identified in her writing a quality of being both sublime and unbearable. Beagan is carving out a place. No other writer on this territory proposes this kind of material for our consideration, material so rich in character, story, emotion, humour, violence, humanity, compassion, complexity, and righteous fury. Her vision is uncompromising, her voice is necessary, her trajectory embodies the deepest values of the Siminovitch Prize. This is quite simply excellent, searing, unforgettable theatre of the highest calibre.”
“My daughters and I are delighted to see the 2020 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre awarded to Tara Beagan,” said Dr. Lou Siminovitch, who celebrated his 100th birthday in May. “This Prize was created 20 years ago in part to honour my late wife Elinore, a pioneering playwright whose work focused on social justice and political repression. As a feminist who struggled to have her voice heard, I believe Elinore would have loved the bold and brave nature of Tara’s work and especially her brilliance in making voices that otherwise might not be heard resound across the stages of our nation.”
The Siminovitch Prize also recognizes the importance of mentorship to support emerging talent through the $25,000 Protégé Prize. Ms. Beagan has selected Joelle Peters, a Toronto-based Anishinaabe and Miami performer/playwright, as her protégée. Ms. Peters is currently part of the Animikiig Creator’s Unit at Native Earth Performing Arts, writing a full length coming-of-age play called Niish (mentored by Falen Johnson). She also co-wrote Frozen River with Michaela Washburn and Carrie Costello, which is set to premiere at Manitoba Theatre for Young People in the spring of 2021.
“It’s a good feeling when someone you look up to says ‘I see you and the work you’re doing, keep going,’” said Ms. Peters. “Being selected as Tara’s protégée is an incredible encouragement and I look forward to seeing where my life as a storyteller takes me next.”
The announcement took place during the Prize’s 20th anniversary, virtual ceremony on November 26, an event that drew together the Canadian theatre community and theatre lovers from across the country. The ceremony also celebrated each of the exceptional shortlisted playwrights, who included Carmen Aguirre (Vancouver), Martin Bellemare (Montreal), Karen Hines (Calgary/Toronto), and Annick Lefebvre (Montreal).
“We congratulate Tara Beagan on receiving the Siminovitch Prize in honour of her extraordinary body of work,” said NAC President and CEO Christopher Deacon. “We also recognize all of the other exceptional playwrights on the shortlist this year – Carmen Aguirre, Martin Bellemare, Karen Hines and Annick Lefebvre – all of whom represent the very best in excellence and innovation in Canadian theatre.”


Tara Beagan is proud to be Ntlaka’pamux and, through her late father’s side, of Irish ancestry. She is cofounder/director of ARTICLE 11 with Andy Moro. Beagan served as Artistic Director of Native Earth Performing Arts from Feb 2011 to Dec 2013. During her time, NEPA continued with traditional values for guidance, had an Elder in Residence, and named and moved into the Aki Studio. Beagan has been in residence at Cahoots Theatre, NEPA, the National Arts Centre and Berton House (Dawson City, Yukon). She is now Playwright In Residence at Prairie Theatre Exchange (Winnipeg). Seven of her 32 plays are published. Two plays have received Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations, Miss Julie: Sheh’mah and winning Outstanding New Play in 2005 for Thy Neighbour’s Wife. In 2018, Beagan was a finalist in the Alberta Playwrights’ Network competition. In 2020, Honour Beat won the Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for Drama. ARTICLE 11 has worked across Turtle Island, in Aotearoa, Australia and Scotland, and is grateful to be based in Mohkintsis (Calgary, AB)


Joelle Peters is a Toronto-based Anishinaabe & Miami performer/playwright. She is from Walpole Island First Nation, Bkejwanong Territory in Southwestern Ontario and moved to Toronto to study Acting for Camera and Voice at Seneca College. Joelle loves the stage and screen and would like to continue living in both worlds. Joelle has performed across Canada at festivals and theatres such as Western Canada Theatre, Thousand Islands Playhouse, Factory Theatre, Summerworks Festival, Theatre Passe Muraille, and has toured across ON and BC. Joelle loves exploring new works and ways to engage with storytelling and is developing an interest in directing and dramaturgy. Currently, she is part of the Animikiig Creator’s Unit at Native Earth Performing Arts, writing a full length coming-of-age play called Niish (mentored by Falen Johnson). She also co-wrote Frozen River with Michaela Washburn and Carrie Costello, which is set to premiere at Manitoba Theatre for Young People in Spring 2021.

News (Edmonton): Mieko Ouchi Named TD Associate Artistic Director For Citadel Theatre

Citadel Theatre logo

The Citadel Theatre is proud to announce the appointment of Mieko Ouchi, one of Edmonton’s most prolific theatre professionals, to the position of TD Associate Artistic Director. This position is funded through the TD Ready Commitment, the Bank’s global corporate citizenship program. Mieko has been at the forefront of advocacy for Albertan artists as a founder and Artistic Director of Concrete Theatre, alongside a brilliant body of artistic work as an actor, playwright, dramaturg, director and producer.
Mieko Ouchi headshotA graduate of the University of Alberta’s BFA Acting Program, Mieko Ouchi has been a finalist for, or recipient of, dozens of theatre awards and prizes, including Sterling and Betty Awards, the Carol Bolt Prize, the Enbridge Award for Established Canadian Playwright, the City of Edmonton Book Prize, and the Governor General’s Literary Award. Recently, she helped found an Edmonton (and now Alberta-wide) chapter of the 3.7% Initiative, an artistic leadership program for BIPOC women and non-binary people originally created in Vancouver by Boca del Lupo’s Sherry D. Yoon. In June, Mieko joined the Citadel’s team as an Associate Artist alongside fellow theatre-makers Tai Amy Grauman and Helen Belay.
Albertan and nationwide audiences will remember her groundbreaking plays The Red Priest (Eight Ways to Say Goodbye), The Blue Light, and Nisei Blue as well as her plays for youth I Am For You and Consent, which debuted in Alberta and have since been translated to six different languages and been produced across the country and internationally. Her new play Burning Mom was set to premiere with the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre this spring, She made her Mainstage playwriting debut at the Citadel in April 2018 alongside composer Hawksley Workman and director Daryl Cloran with The Silver Arrow: The Untold Story of Robin Hood, a diverse and inclusive twist on the classic tale.
As the incoming TD Associate Artistic Director, Mieko Ouchi will oversee the development of new work and commissions; as well as training opportunities for emerging Artists such as the Citadel’s Assistant Director training and the RBC Emerging Artist Program; and more to be announced in the coming months. We are incredibly grateful to learn from her expertise as part of the Citadel family and offer a new platform for her to continue supporting our community’s theatre-makers. As well, we extend our deepest thanks to our friends at TD for making it possible to bring such an excellent leader to our team while we continue efforts to recover from the extended hiatus of the ongoing pandemic.
Mieko begins her role as TD Associate Artistic Director this month. Helen Belay and Tai Amy Grauman will continue in their roles as Associate Artists, and we’re excited to continue our relationship with all three of these outstanding artists.
I am so honored to be joining Daryl, Chantell, the board and the entire Citadel team in this new role, and look forward to continuing to support new play development, and building new opportunities, training and safe spaces for the amazing and diverse community of artists we have in our city and province whom I admire so much,” says Mieko. “I am truly grateful for the incredible support I’ve received and continue to receive as an artist from Daryl and the Citadel, and excited to have a position that will allow me to continue to foster, shepherd and pass that on to many others.
The TD Ready Commitment is proud to support the Citadel Theatre as part of our focus on amplifying diverse voices in the arts“, says Farah Kurji, TD’s Senior Manager, Philanthropy. “Congratulations, Mieko Ouchi, on being the first TD Associate Artistic Director. We look forward to your leadership that will elevate artists from different backgrounds and mentor them through their careers in the dramatic arts.” 

Announcement (Alberta): APAC Response to the Government of Alberta’s 2021 Budget Consultation


The Government of Alberta is hosting public consultation as they prepare Budget 2021. Submissions can be made until December 4, 2020. Information is online at
The Alberta Partners for Arts and Culture has submitted a response and information as of November 17, 2020. An excerpt of the response is below. To read the full submission visit:
APAC is an informal coalition of Alberta’s eight Provincial Arts Service Organizations and four Cultural Industry Service Organizations. APAC advocates for a strong, sustainable arts and cultural sector in Alberta and speaks collectively on priorities and opportunities that impact our members. APAC member organizations understand that a strong, sustainable and vibrant arts and cultural sector plays an important role in Alberta’s success, reputation, future growth and the vitality of our communities.
We are mindful of the realities facing our province as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While all parts of our economy have been impacted, Alberta’s arts and cultural sector has been one of the hardest hit industries in the province.
The Canadian Association for the Performing Arts, responding to the Statistics Canada Labour Force survey said, “in proportion to its size, the arts, entertainment and recreation sector is the furthest away from recovery… the sub-sector runs the risk of facing a major shortage of skilled workers when live performance activities (finally) resume.”
A September 2020 survey conducted by Calgary Arts Development found 47 per cent of the 140 organizations responding said they would have to cease operations in the next six to 12 months if current conditions persist. Lost revenue in the current fiscal year, just from the 140 organizational respondents, is anticipated to be more than $20.6 million. Further, these same organizations anticipate losing additional $16 million revenue going forward.
If you extrapolate that to the more than 450 non-profit arts organizations supported by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts (AFA), that loss balloons to more than $117 million, about four times the amount of AFA funding in 2019-2020.

News (Calgary): Making Treaty 7 Announces New Artistic Director

Image of Michelle Thrush on grey and yellow background. Michelle Thrush has worked in film, television, and theatre for more than 35 years, with more than fifty professional credits.

Making Treaty 7 is pleased to announce New Leadership! We are excited to share with you all our Artistic Director, Michelle Thrush.

Michelle Thrush, local to Calgary, AB, is among the founding members, actors, and directors of MAKING TREATY 7. She is best known for her leading role as Gail Stoney in BLACKSTONE, for which she won the Gemini Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role. Michelle believes as a founding member of MT7, she has seen the earliest visions of what this unique collective of artists looks like, and it only gets better. She is invested in how the arts can build bridges and bring voices together.

It is hugely important, as the Artistic Director, to create a safe place for artists to be vulnerable and to become a community to each other. Using an Indigenous-led process will always be the strength of what makes MT7 so successful.” – Michelle Thrush

Michelle is a mother to two amazing daughters and they are everything to her. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, finding new places to walk and hike in southern Alberta. Prior to Covid, she worked in communities across Canada with Indigenous children and families using imagination and play to strengthen family bonds. Her work with youth and children is her greatest passion with characters such as “Majica”, the Aboriginal Healing Clown, and “Kookum Martha”, a sprite old Indian Elder. Michelle explains laughter is a natural part of her culture. She continues to write, direct, and produce theatre, and has played many leading roles across Canada.

Event (National): 2020 Siminovitch Prize

Siminovitch Prize - Thursday, November 26, 7:00pm EST

Join the celebration of Canadian theatre innovation and find out who will win the $100,000 Siminovitch Prize.
Joignez-vous à nous pour une célébration de l’excellence et de l’innovation en théâtre canadien et découvrez qui va remporter le prix Siminovitch de 100 000 dollars.
This year’s shortlist features five exceptional playwrights:
Cette année, la liste des finalistes comprend cinq dramaturges exceptionnels:
Image of Carmen Aguirre, Tara Beagan, Martin Bellmare, Karen Hines, and Annick Lefebvre
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2020, 7:00 pm EST
Featuring Antonine Maillet, Ravi Jain, Mani Soleymanlou, Vanessa Porteous, and more.
JEUDI 26 NOVEMBRE 2020, 19 hres HNE
Avec Antonine Maillet, Ravi Jain, Mani Soleymanlou, Vanessa Porteous et bien d’autres.
We hope that you will join theatre-makers and theatre lovers from across Canada for this special 20th anniversary virtual celebration.
Nous espérons que vous vous joindrez aux créateurs et aux amateurs de théâtre de tout le Canada pour cette célébration virtuelle du 20ème anniversaire.

About the Prize

Over a three-year cycle, the Siminovitch Prize celebrates a professional mid-career director, playwright, or designer who is acknowledged as a leader in the theatre and whose work is transformative and influential. The Siminovitch Prize Foundation thanks the generous donors who make this possible. 

À propos du prix

Sur un cycle de trois ans, le prix Siminovitch récompense un metteur en scène, dramaturge ou concepteur professionnel en milieu de carrière, reconnu comme tête de file en théâtre et dont le travail est transformateur et influent. La Fondation du Prix Siminovitch remercie les généreux donateurs qui rendent ce prix possible.

News (National): The CASA Award Announces 2020 Winner

Banner text - African Women Playwrights Network - The CASA Award - Playwrights Guild of Canada

The CASA Award is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2020 playwriting award is writer, theatre-maker and educator Genna Gardini of Cape Town, South Africa. The Jury, consisting of South Africans – educator and voice-body guide/sonic dramaturg Lieketso Mohoto, and writer/adaptor/director/ theatre-maker Janice L. Honeyman – and Canadian actor/playwright/librettist/ dramaturg Marcia Johnson worked with Canadian Chair and writer/educator/theatre-maker Sally Stubbs. They had this to say about the winner:

We find Genna to be a writer with a strong and intelligent voice, the ability to create multi-faceted and intriguing characters and situations and to bring humour as well as poignancy to an intense and personal drama. Genna’s play, MANY SCARS, is a fantastical semi-autobiographical play about Multiple Sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disorder of the central nervous system that disrupts the relationship between the body and the brain. This sophisticated and brave piece is well underway. It will be thrilling to see Genna complete it with the help of the CASA mentorship.

Genna will receive financial support ($5000 CAD) giving her time to write. She will be partnered with two senior mentors: a Canadian dramaturge and a South African director; and will receive a small collection of Canadian plays, generously donated by Playwrights Canada Press and Scirocco Drama.

Now in its fourth year, CASA is thrilled once again with the excellence of this year’s applications.

The Jury noted: “Special recognition must be given to finalists Campbell-Jessica Meas, Nwabisa Plaatjie and Napo Masheane. Their work stood out the among submissions. We also wish to celebrate Daisy ‘Dmapz’ Maphathe and Sanelisiwe Yekani, whose applications received honourable mention. We note that South African womxn playwrights continue to bravely engage with challenging and personal subject matter.”

Genna Gardini Bio

Genna is a writer, theatre-maker and educator. The South African playwright has an MA in Theatre-Making from the University of Cape Town and is currently a PhD candidate at Queen Mary University of London. In 2013, she was named one of the Top 200 Young South Africans by The Mail & Guardian. Genna co-founded the queer theatre company Horses’ Heads productions with Gary Hartley. Her plays WinterSweet (2012) and Scrape (2013) won Standard Bank Ovation awards. Genna’s poetry collection, Matric Rage, received a commendation for the Ingrid Jonker Prize. She was a 2016 National Fellow at the Institute for Creative Arts, working on a project about Multiple Sclerosis and creative writing.

About CASA

CASA is a Canadian and South African partnership. In 2015, Beverley Cooper, Marcia Johnson, Sally Stubbs and Colleen Wagner were part of the Canadian delegation that attended the Women Playwrights International (WPI) Conference in Cape Town, and during this time formed a partnership with Amy Jephta, then President of WPI, in order to find funding opportunities for South African women. We invite all people of marginalized genders to apply.

CASA is a partnership between The Playwrights Guild of Canada’s Women’s Caucus and The African Women Playwrights Network. The Canadian committee consists of Beverley Cooper, Cheryl Foggo, Marcia Johnson, Natalie Meisner, Sally Stubbs, Colleen Wagner and Deborah Williams, with PGC advisors Rebecca Burton (Membership Manager) and Robin Sokoloski (Outgoing Executive Director). South African partnering organizations are Theatre Arts in Cape Town and The Outreach Foundation in Johannesburg.

Call for Submissions (National): Canadian Stage Microgrants and Scholarship Programs

Image of students in a lecture hall

Canadian Stage is now accepting applications for two artist development programs – the CS Microgrants and CS Scholarship Fund.

CS Microgrants – Application deadline: October 23, 2020

Canadian Stage will provide funding to artists for the development of project specific or research specific creative work over the course of the 20.21 season. These grants of $2,000 each will be given to live performance creators, artists, choreographers, or makers to investigate a specific creation project or pure research question. Canadian Stage is particularly interested in supporting proposals that fall into the following four areas of investigation: anti-oppressive/anti-colonial artistic practices, new forms of collaboration, intersections with community, and new technologies.

CLICK HERE for more info about Canadian Stage Microgrants

CS Scholarships – Application deadline – November 13, 2020

Established in partnership with Native Earth Performing Arts and Theatre Gargantua, this scholarship will fund training (up to $2,000) for professional technicians, stage managers, and designers wishing to upgrade their skills or acquire new skills to more effectively engage in new practices in live performance.

CLICK HERE for more info about Canadian Stage Scholarships


Announcement (National): The 2020 Siminovitch Prize Short List


Image of two Siminovitch Prizes

photo by Andrew Alexander

The Siminovitch Prize Foundation has announced the shortlist for this year’s Siminovitch Prize, the most prestigious theatre award in Canada. The jury has selected five outstanding playwrights as finalists for the esteemed theatre prize, now celebrating its 20th year of honouring excellence and innovation in Canadian theatre.
The Siminovitch Prize Foundation is proud to introduce this year’s shortlist: Carmen Aguirre (Vancouver), Tara Beagan (Mohkintsis/Calgary), Martin Bellemare (Montreal), Karen Hines (Calgary/Toronto), and Annick Lefebvre (Montreal).
Fierce. That’s the word that springs to mind when I think about these five outstanding playwrights,” said Siminovitch Prize Foundation Jury Chair Vanessa Porteous. “They are each driven by an unstoppable force. A battle with injustice, a need to say what no one else has said before. An inescapable artistic vision, a use of language that both burns and heals. A life-long compulsion to experiment, to push against the rules. Regardless of what drives them, these artists stand alone. And yet, each of these five artists is also renowned for opening their arms, so generously, to upcoming voices. They are known for providing encouragement, mentorship, inspiration, even shelter. Deeply rooted in their craft as playwrights, these artists are leaders in their communities, and their influence is felt in multiple dimensions, both deep and wide. When their work meets an audience, it is unforgettable. A thrilling list.

Carmen Aguirre (Vancouver)

Carmen Aguirre is an award-winning theatre artist and author who has written and co-written more than 25 plays, including Chile Con Carne, The Refugee Hotel, The Trigger, Blue Box, Broken Tailbone, and Anywhere But Here, as well as the international bestseller and #1 in Canada, Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter (winner of CBC Canada Reads 2012), and its bestselling sequel, Mexican Hooker #1 and My Other Roles Since the Revolution. Carmen is currently writing an adaptation of Euripides’ Medea for Vancouver’s Rumble Theatre, and Moliere’s The Learned Ladies for Toronto’s Factory Theatre. She is a Core Artist at Electric Company Theatre and a co-founding member of the Canadian Latinx Theatre Artist Coalition (CALTAC). She has more than 80 film, TV, and stage acting credits, including her award-winning lead role in the Canadian premiere of Stephen Adley Guirgis’ The Motherfucker with the Hat, and her Leo-nominated lead performance in the independent feature film Bella Ciao!. She is a graduate of Studio 58.

Tara Beagan (Mohkintsis/Calgary)

Tara Beagan is proud to be Ntlaka’pamux and, through her late father’s side, of Irish ancestry. She is cofounder/director of ARTICLE 11 with Andy Moro. Beagan served as Artistic Director of Native Earth Performing Arts from February 2011 to December 2013. During her time, NEPA continued with traditional values for guidance, had an Elder in Residence, and named and moved into the Aki Studio. Beagan has been in residence at Cahoots Theatre (Toronto), NEPA (Toronto), the National Arts Centre (Ottawa) and Berton House (Dawson City, Yukon). She is now Playwright In Residence at Prairie Theatre Exchange (Winnipeg). Seven of her 28 plays are published. Two plays have received Dora Award nominations (one win). In 2018, Beagan was a finalist in the Alberta Playwrights’ Network competition. In 2020, Honour Beat won the Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award for Drama. Recent premieres include Deer Woman in Aotearoa (New Zealand), Honour Beat opening the 2018/19 season at Theatre Calgary, The Ministry of Grace at Belfry Theatre in Victoria, and Super in [email protected] with Boca Del Lupo (Vancouver).

Martin Bellemare (Montreal)

A graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada’s writing program, Martin Bellemare was awarded the 2009 Gratien Gélinas Prize for Le Chant de Georges Boivin. La Liberté was presented at La Rubrique (Jonquière) in 2013 and in Montreal in 2015, and was scheduled to be staged in Ottawa in 2020. Maître Karim la perdrix (2018 Prix SACD de la dramaturgie francophone, awarded by the Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques) will premiere at the Théâtre des Capucins in Luxembourg in 2021. Moule Robert (CNL Scholarship, shortlisted for the 2017 Prix SACD de la dramaturgie francophone and the 2018 Michel Tremblay Prize) was produced simultaneously at La Rubrique and at the POCHE/ GVE in Geneva, then at the Théâtre de Belleville in Paris. Martin is a four-time recipient of the Aide à la création grant from the Centre national du Théâtre/ARTCENA in Paris, and two of his plays are included in the repertoire of the Comédie-Française. Two of his plays for young audiences, Un château sur le dosand Des pieds et des mains, which was first produced at the NAC, have toured in Canada and internationally. In 2019, Extraordinaire et mystérieux and Charlie et le djingpouite were produced, and Cœur minéral premiered at the Francophonies in Limoges. The latter play was scheduled for a Montreal production in 2020.

Karen Hines (Calgary/Toronto)

Karen Hines’s lush satires have traveled the globe: from Toronto to Kuala Lumpur, her plays and ‘little films’ have won critical acclaim, charmed and horrified her audiences, and cemented her reputation as “one of the most original artists in the city” (Toronto Life), and “one of the gems of Canadian theatre” (Toronto Star). Raised by scientists, Hines’ keen musings on modern life combine such disparate elements as magical realism, pink-brand feminism, real estate and climate change. She is the author of seven award-winning plays, all published by Coach House Books, and she has twice been finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, for her Drama: Pilot Episode and for her trilogy of Pochsy Plays. Hines has collaborated on the development of many new productions by other artists, and she is the long-time director of internationally beloved adult horror clowns Mump & Smoot. Recent projects include her micro-theatrical solo Crawlspace, and All the Little Animals I Have Eaten, which was to have had its Toronto premiere just as the pandemic came. Currently, she is creating new plays, including the fourth in the Pochsy series. Her singular style, informed by an alchemy of clown and bouffon, has won her a reputation as an auteur and a conduit of biting, hilarious, provocative entertainment.

Annick Lefebvre (Montreal)

Annick Lefebvre holds a degree in playwriting and theatre critique from UQAM (2004). She is the founder of Le Crachoir, a company dedicated to placing the author, female or not, at the centre of the creation-production-performance process. She has written several plays, including Ce samedi il pleuvait (shortlisted for the 2013 Michel-Tremblay Award); La machine à révolte (shortlisted for the 2015 Louise-LaHaie Award); J’accuse (shortlisted for the 2015 Michel-Tremblay Award, the 2015 Critics’ Choice Award from the Association québécoise des critiques de théâtre [AQCT]  and the 2015 Governor General’s Literary Award); Les barbelés (shortlisted for the 2019 Critics’ Choice Award from the AQCT); ColoniséEs (winner of the 2019 Michel-Tremblay Award and shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award); and several short scripts for collective events. She adapted J’accuse twice, once for a production in Belgium, and once for a French production. Annick Lefebvre was chosen as protégée by playwright Olivier Choinière, laureate of the 2014 Siminovitch Prize. Her plays are published by Dramaturges Éditeurs.


The 2020 Siminovitch Prize Foundation jury was comprised of Chair Vanessa Porteous (Calgary), Jessica Carmichael (Montreal), Julie McIsaac (Toronto/British Columbia), Olivier Sylvestre (Montreal) and Donald Woo (Toronto).
The jury noted: “The nominees were so extraordinary and numerous this year, and of such range and variety, that we selected five nominees instead of the usual four. The hugely competitive slate of nominees is evidence of the immeasurable creative power and thrilling range of artists in the contemporary Canadian theatre. Currently, the work of these playwrights on the shortlist, and of so many others, is held in suspension because of the pandemic. Their livelihoods and future are in real jeopardy while Canadian theatre remains dark. It is hoped that these artists, and all Canadian theatre artists, will be heard by audiences again soon.”


This year’s event will be the first-ever virtual ceremony for the Siminovitch Prize, and will take place on Thursday, November 26 at 7 p.m. ET. This inclusive, interactive celebration will gather Canadian theatre makers and dedicated theatre fans together to honour the shortlisted artists and unveil the laureate. Event details to follow. All are welcome.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Siminovitch Prize, and we approach this milestone during a very painful time for the theatre, with a commitment to the future and to supporting excellence and innovation with this annual $100,000 Prize,” said George Thomson, Chair of the Siminovitch Prize Foundation Board of Directors.

Scholarship (Alberta): Dr. Dasha Goody Foundation Scholarship

It’s that time of year again! The Dr. Dasha Goody Memorial Foundation is proud to announce the 2020 scholarships with a minimum of $10,000 in available funding towards a post-secondary degree! The DDGMF is giving aspiring young musical theatre stars ages 17 and up throughout Alberta an opportunity to take the stage.

Since the scholarship’s inception in 2007, the Foundation has awarded over $60,000 in funding to musical theatre students and we are proud to announce 2020’s criteria.

Educational Scholarship Eligibility:

  • Ages 17 and up
  • Resident of Alberta
  • Some form of previous musical theatre training
  • Must be attending a post-secondary institution for the first year and/or subsequent year

Funding provided for: tuition costs to a post-secondary institution, costs to train in a place other than the city they reside and costs of materials & equipment for training.
Award: up to $5,000
Deadline: October 26th, 2020 by 5 pm
Please contact Steffni Ault at 780-475-8053 or [email protected] for more information and to receive an application package.


Three steps:

  1. Fill out the application form.
  2. Assemble application package to include:
    • Completed application form
    • Resume (photo, previous training and courses completed in the performing arts)
    • Two reference letters by other artists and/or instructors in the performing arts
    • A DVD submission showcasing your performing skills in DVD or high definition DVD format. If the format is not acceptable and the jury cannot view your submission you will be disqualified.
      • Must be from within the last six months
      • Maximum length is three minutes
      • Must include close-ups and wide shots to help evaluate interpretive and movement skills
      • Submission SHOULD NOT be of a past performance in a group setting. Solo pieces only acceptable.
      • Digital video submissions will not be considered. Please no video clips via e-mail, YouTube, etc.
      • VERY IMPORTANT to preview your disc on a DVD player prior to submitting with your application. If the Committee cannot view your submission then you will be disqualified.
  3. Application package must be received by 5:00 p.m. on October 26, 2020 at:
    Dr. Dasha Goody Memorial Foundation Scholarship
    #301, 14503 Miller Blvd.
    Edmonton, AB T5Y 3A7

Event (Online): Canada-Wide Community Theatre Discussion Hosted by ACT-CO

Association of Community Theatres Central Ontario logo


Concerned that your community theatre might not survive the pandemic? Interested in raising awareness of community theatre at this precarious time? Want to make your voice heard by your federal, provincial, and local governments?

The Association of Community Theatres – Central Ontario is hosting an information-gathering exercise to discuss the creation of a country-wide group of community theatres. All representatives of community theatres from across Canada are invited.

Date: October 21, 2020
Time: 6 pm EDT
Where: Register in advance at Registration Closed


News (National): Associated Designers of Canada Join IATSE


IATSE and Associated Desingers of Canada logos

In a multi-day, online vote culminating on October 1st, members of the Associated Designers of Canada (ADC) have voted 95% in favour of joining the IATSE. For decades, members of the two organizations have worked side by side in venues all across Canada. This vote serves to formalize the strong relationship the ADC and the IATSE have always enjoyed.
Discussions began months ago, after ADC reached out with some general queries concerning the IATSE’s structure and benefits, and what a potential merger might look like. As part of the newly-struck Creative Industries Coalition – which also includes Canadian Actors’ Equity Association and the Canadian Federation of Musicians – the two organizations began working even more closely together to lobby the federal government around income supports for entertainment industry workers facing mass unemployment due to COVID-19. With so much overlap in workplace issues and required supports for their members, the benefits of formally joining together became even more apparent.
ADC President Ken MacKenzie stated, “This affiliation with IATSE marks a significant turning point for the ADC and our member artists. In choosing to more closely align with our IATSE colleagues, we look to promote more fair and equitable workplaces. The alliance will help support designers’ lives and careers long into the future. Through our work together in the Creative Industries Coalition, lobbying on behalf of independent arts workers, we have built a strong relationship with the IATSE, and recognize one another’s commitment to advocating on behalf of our memberships. The ADC is thrilled to be joining with the IATSE as Local ADC 659.”
IATSE International President Matthew D. Loeb also expressed his support. “Working together to better people’s lives is the basic tenet of unionism. With so much commonality between the two organizations, including shared employers, the fit is a natural one. We’re excited to welcome these talented ADC designers into the IATSE family.”
The ADC, formed in 1965, represents the set, costume, lighting, projection, and sound designers in live performance throughout English Canada, and the IATSE represents virtually all other behind-the-scenes positions. The ADC will form its own IATSE Local Union, called IATSE Local ADC 659, which will become active on January 1, 2021.  The new Local, consisting of the ADC’s 250 designers, has been granted a national charter – a first for the IATSE in Canada.
Read the release on the IATSE Canada website: