The Ottawa Little Theatre’s 76th Annual National One-Act Playwriting Competition, Canada’s oldest playwriting competition, has collected 28 competition entries from across the country with winners representing three of these provinces. This is a testament not only to the broad interest in this annual competition, but also to the diverse locales of active Canadian playwrights. The 2017 winners join a long list of Canadian literary luminaries recognized through this annual competition, which commenced in 1937. Past winners have included Robertson Davies, John Murrell, Erika Ritter, Catherine Banks and Ken Mitchell, to name just a few.
Winners were chosen through a double blind adjudication process, with all of the plays submitted under pen names. The adjudicators’ names were kept confidential until the winners were chosen.
The winners were announced on Thursday, March 23 during the pre-show to Marion Bridge at Ottawa Little Theatre. The winners in the ‘Plays Written for Adults’ category are:
The first prize, Ottawa Little Theatre Award winner is: In Case of Fire by James Odin Wade (Calgary, Alberta)
Comments from the adjudicators for In Case of Fire include:
“A play that shakes the foundations of a young marriage and teaches (or reminds) us that love alone cannot save a partnership. An intelligent, poignant and often funny exploration of the tension between religious identity and personal fulfillment; the reassurance of community versus the exhilarating terror of total independence” – Nick Carpenter.
“An hilarious, entertaining, and moving play that surprises at every turn. The characters’ journeys are very rich and entirely satisfying” – Bobby Theodore.
“A sharp two-hander about faith, lack of faith, and the huge twists that life and religion force upon our lives. The play offers two demanding roles and a challenging scenario that actors and directors will love to tackle” – Brian Quirt.
The second prize, Dorothy White Award winner is: Fags in Space by Liam Salmon (Edmonton, Alberta)
Comments from the adjudicators for Fags in Space include:
“Decorating a Christmas tree generates a wild, vibrant, searching and scarring examination of a gay couple’s relationship with one another and with the wider world” – Brian Quirt
“Fag’s in Space is a vitally current, viciously tender piece. It explores our desire to go deeper and get closer while exposing our fear of intimacy” – Bobby Theodore
The third prize, The Gladys Cameron Watt Award, is sponsored by the Ottawa Chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women. The 2017 winner is: Tibb’s Eve by Step Taylor (Chapel Arm, Newfoundland)
Comments from the adjudicators for Tibb’s Eve include:
“The near-music of the language and dialogue prepare our senses for the careening arcs of the characters as they run at first from, then directly into an obliterating Bacchanalian storm. Tibb’s Eve is a giddy, powerful play about responsibility and its escape routes, set against a starry Newfoundland night where what it means to be home (at least for Trevor, Ronnie, Molly and Jess) is up for debate” – Nick Carpenter
“Fabulous dialogue is the star of this snapshot of a community that collides with its past, present and future during a wild party which no one leaves quite the same as they arrived”– Brian Quirt
“Tibb’s Eve is a fantastic wild party, full of wild longings and dormant resentments that finally have a chance to come out to play” – Bobby Theodore
Honorary Mention, the adjudicators also recognized a fourth play: Subway Extension to the Mariana Trench by Andrew Lee (Hamilton, Ontario)
Comments from the adjudicators for Subway Extension to the Mariana Trench include:
“A subway shooting has impact on everyone who witnesses it in this artful exploration of perspective, class, culture and crisis” – Brian Quirt
“A strong weave of parallel monologues, each a window into the circumstances, reflections and motivations of four urban commuters, united, if only for a moment, through an act of sacrificial violence. I was blown away by the playwright’s handling of the four distinct and contrasting voices” -Nick Carpenter
“Subway Extension to the Mariana Trench delivers a series of profoundly moving and resonant interconnected monologues that are written with remarkable skill” – Bobby Theodore
The Sybil Cooke Award for ‘A Play Written for Children or Young People’ was not awarded this year.
The winners are invited to mount public readings of their work at Ottawa Little Theatre with a guest dramaturge, along with directors and actors from the theatre. Public readings will be held on Saturday, April 22 with a public dramaturgy workshop on April 23 in Ottawa Little Theatre’s Janigan Studio. Tickets on sale soon.
Bios for the 2017 adjudicators:
Bobby Theodore, a Montreal native, is a graduate of the National Theatre School’s playwriting section. His first translation, François Archambault’s play 15 Seconds, was nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award in 2000 and was produced across Canada. Since then, he has gone on to translate more than twelve plays, including the works of Quebec’s most talented playwrights. Bobby is currently a resident in the Canadian Film Centre’s Prime Time Television program. Bobby also completed a translation of Geneviève Billette’s Le gôuteur, published by Playwrights Canada Press.
Brian Quirt – With more than 25 years experience as a dramaturge, Brian has worked with many of Canada’s leading playwrights. As a director, his credits include premieres of these Nightswimming commissions: Anita Majumdar’s The Fish Eyes Trilogy (2014/15 national tour) and Same Same But Different (Theatre Passe Muraille/Alberta Theatre Projects), Carmen Aguirre’s Blue Box (2012-2014 national tour), Anosh Irani’s Bombay Black (Cahoots Theatre and tour), Judith Thompson’s Such Creatures (Theatre Passe Muraille), Andy Massingham’s Rough House (national tour) and Richard Sanger’s Whispering Pines (GCTC). Three of his productions have appeared at the Magnetic North Theatre Festival; 10 have toured Canada from Victoria to Whitehorse to St. John’s.
In addition to his work with Nightswimming, Brian also serves as Director of the Banff Centre Playwrights Colony, which he has expanded to incorporate international guest artists, creation company residencies and diverse approaches to theatre making. He is currently Chair of the Board of Directors of LMDA (Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas)
Nick Carpenter is a Montreal based playwright, dramaturge, screenwriter, composer and musician. His stage plays, radio plays and short opera librettos have been performed across Canada, in the US and Germany. Nick teaches playwriting and offers dramaturgical advice to students at the National Theatre School of Canada and Concordia University. Nick has worked with the NAC, GCTC, National Theatre School, The Theatre Centre, Repercussion Theatre, Geordie Theatre, Imago Theatre, Infinitheatre, Concordia and Ottawa Universities, Theatre Lac Brôme, Third Wall, Théâtre Urbi et Orbi and on productions for the Magnetic North, Summerworks, Undercurrents and WildSide Festivals.