Saturday, June 11, 2011

Drama Professors have been nominated for Dora Mavor Moore Awards

GUELPH, Ontario June 10, 2011 - University of Guelph News Release

Two University of Guelph drama professors have been nominated for Dora Mavor Moore Awards. The Grace Project: SICK! by Judith Thompson is up for two awards and The Situationists by Sky Gilbert is nominated in three categories.

Nominees were announced Thursday and the winners will be named June 27 at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts in Toronto.

The Dora Mavor Moore Awards, hosted by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, honour creators of almost 200 theatre, dance and opera productions annually. They are named for Mavor Moore, a teacher and director who helped establish Canadian professional theatre in the 1930s and 1940s.

The Grace Project: SICK! was nominated for outstanding production and outstanding performance in the theatre for young audiences category. The play explores disability, illness and challenge, and what it means to be considered “sick” by the rest of the world.

“I am thrilled that the stories of the young performers, told in their own words, have been honoured by this nomination,” said Thompson, who also directed the production. “It was such a privilege to bring their stories to the stage.”

In her documentary-style production, 14 people aged 14 to 30 who have been labelled as “disabled” or “sick” tell their stories on stage. The performers include 14-year-old diabetic twins, an 18-year-old with Down syndrome and a 30-year-old actor with an aggressive form of cancer. The play is presented by The Sick Collective/Jack Greenhouse and Sarah Miller-Gavin/Next Stage Festival.

Thompson said her project was inspired by a young acquaintance with a chronic illness. She organized workshops for her cast – about half of them with professional performing experience – to talk about their lives. She then shaped their thoughts and experiences into the play.“This was one of the greatest learning experiences of my professional and personal life,” she said.

A U of G professor since 1992, Thompson won the 2009 Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award. In 2008, she was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Awards and was the first Canadian to win the international Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. She has been nominated twice for a Genie Award, was a finalist for the inaugural Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and won the Floyd S. Chalmers Canadian Play Award. She was named an officer of the Order of Canada in 2005.

Gilbert’s play is nominated for outstanding new play, outstanding set design and outstanding performance by a male in a principal role in the independent theatre production category.

The Situationists was written and directed by Gilbert and stars Gemini Award-winning actor Gavin Crawford. It’s produced by The Cabaret Company. A modern and challenging intellectual drama, it explores the relationship between left-wing politics and sexuality, and challenges a new Victorianism that has arisen with digital technology and the disappearance of the body.

The play is based on a group of artistic/political agitators in France between 1947 and 1968 who used performance to challenge the political systems of the time. The Situationists were also involved with the Paris riots of 1968, and the union uprisings of the same period. Though largely forgotten now, their influence on European politics was enormous.

In Gilbert’s The Situationists, an older professor (Crawford) is attempting to apply Situationist politics and principles today, assisted by a former student who is clearly in love with him. They invite a third member to join their group and the result is a hyper-sexual “situation.”

An award-winning playwright, filmmaker, poet, author and director, Gilbert was co-founder and artistic director of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (North America’s largest gay and lesbian theatre) for 18 years.

He is the author of poetry collections, novels and a theatre memoir, and his plays have been produced around the world. Gilbert was awarded the Silver Ticket Award in 2005 by the Toronto Theatre Alliance for his career accomplishments and for nurturing the development of Canadian theatre. He has received two Dora Mavor Moore Awards and the Pauline McGibbon Award for theatre directing. His next novel, Come Back, is to be published in 2012.