PGC Announces the 2017 Tom Hendry Award Winners

Monday, October 30th, 2017 – Last night, the winners of the Carol Bolt Award, RBC Emerging Playwright Award, Stage West Comedy and Musical Awards, Robert Beardsley 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 – Kate Hennig
Presented for the best work premiered by a PGC member in the past year, the 2017 Carol Bolt Award was bestowed on Kate Hennig for The Virgin Trial. The Carol Bolt Award is sponsored by Alberta Playwrights’ Network, Pat the Dog Theatre Creation, Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre, Playwrights Canada Press, Playwrights Guild of Canada, Playwrights Theatre Centre, Playwrights Workshop Montreal, and Saskatchewan Playwrights' Centre.

Jury: Philip Akin (Chair), Joanna Falck, Rod Hayward, and Kevin Longfield.

RBC Emerging Playwright Award Winner – Gary Mok
Presented for the best play by a PGC member who is an emerging playwright, the 2017 RBC Emerging Playwright Award was given to Gary Mok for we could be clouds. The RBC Emerging Playwright Award is sponsored by The RBC Emerging Artists Fund.

Jury: Jenna Rodgers (Chair), Janet Hinton, and Daniel Macdonald.

The Robert Beardsley Award - Alexander Steele Zonjic
The Arts and Letters Club of Toronto Foundation gives an annual award to an emerging playwright under 25 who lives in the GTA while attending a postsecondary institution. The Robert Beardsley Award was granted to Alexander Steel Zonjic for Enola Gay. This award was sponsored and presented by the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto Foundation and administered by Playwrights Guild of Canada.

Jury: Tom Slater (Chair), Emma Mackenzie-Hillier, and Norm Reynolds.

Stage West Musical Award Winner – Kelley Jo Burke (with co-creator, Jeffery Straker)
Presented annually to a PGC-member for best musical in development, the 2017 Musical Award was given to Kelley Jo Burke (with Jeffery Straker) for Us. The Stage West Musical Award is sponsored by the Stage West Pechet Family.

Jury: Ted Dykstra (Chair), Clara Bullock, Meghan Gardiner, and Peter Jorgensen.

Stage West Comedy Award Winner – Claude Montminy
Presented annually to a PGC-member for best comedy in development, the 2017 Comedy Award was bestowed upon Claude Montminy (with translators Nina Lauren and Danielle Ellen) for Maestro. The Stage West Comedy Award is sponsored by the Stage West Pechet Family.

Jury: Drew Hayden Taylor (Chair), Neil Fleming, Joanne Miller, and Julie Orton.

The Lifetime Membership Award - Morris Panych
The Lifetime Membership Award is for a PGC member who is nominated by the membership, and voted on by the board of directors, for being an influential force in Canadian playwriting. Morris Panych has been named the 2017 Lifetime Member and will receive PGC membership for life.

Winning Play Synopses

The Carol Bolt Award:
The Virgin Trial by Kate Hennig
In this gripping companion piece to The Last Wife, Kate Hennig cleverly explores victim shaming, the age of sexual consent, and the extraordinary ability of girls becoming women as she reimagines the scandalous and little-known story of Elizabeth the First before she was Queen.
Fifteen-year-old Bess has no idea when she heads to London to see her Uncle Ted that she is about to find herself at the heart of a scandal involving sexual impropriety, her stepfather, Thom, and an attempted overthrow of the government. What does all this have to do with her? How adroitly can Bess manoeuvre through a series of interviews to avoid being swept up in the peril that might ensue? And will she be able to spin the facts to create a myth based on her own innocence?

RBC Emerging Playwright Award:
we could be clouds by Gary Mok
A Chinese immigrant family is faced with everything Canada has to offer: hardship, opportunity, maternity leave, evolving definitions of gender, talking trees, and a mountain that won’t stop growing.

Stage West Musical Award:
Us by Kelley Jo Burke and Jeffery Straker
(Camp, canoes, and ultimately, compassion - how much more Canadian can you get?)
Springing from true stories collected by the playwright, Us is a musical that celebrates the power of love and inclusion in the face of the challenges of "coming-in" to the queer community. Set at a summer camp for LGBTQ+++ youth, it features seven diverse characters played by four actors who seek, over the course of the camp, a way to build a community that offers "whatever they need." As Counsellor Damond says:

What I know—you dear woman—you dear, trying-all-the-time, relatively clueless but never meant to hurt anyone woman—is that the very best way to change our story—the “the World Doesn't Want Us, We're Not Right, so the way to make it better is Erase Ourselves” STUPID story—is to be HAPPY. And Happy isn't EASY....It doesn’t just come. You have to take it. You have to get up—and grab happiness by the ovaries and squeeze. Because it’s yours—as much as anybody else’s.
That's how I got here—and that's where I'm going—and I know it’s not the only way—but it's certainly a way.
And it takes all of us. Every freakin' letter. Choosing happy.
And no one dead.

Stage West Comedy Award:
Maestro by Claude Montminy (translated by Nina Lauren and Danielle Ellen)
In the midst of a breakup, Jennifer realizes the time has come for her to get the job she deserves. No longer content to be second violin; she wants to become concertmaster (principal first violinist). Jennifer invites her conductor to her home to convince him to promote her, although the grand conductor has something else in mind. The situation complicates further when Jennifer’s ex-boyfriend, also a musician, shows up and imposes himself to dinner. Over the course of the evening, Jennifer will realize how far she is willing to go to achieve her goal.

Playwright Biographies
Kate Hennig is a diverse, multi-award-winning theatre artist: a playwright, performer, teacher, and Associate Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival. Kate’s first published play, The Last Wife, which premiered at the Stratford Festival in 2015, was met with rave reviews and has had six subsequent productions with another four productions scheduled. The Last Wife was shortlisted for the 2015 Carol Bolt Award, and was on the reading list at Queen's University and Glendon College.  The Virgin Trial, the second play in the Tudor queens series, played to sellout audiences, critical acclaim, and an extended run during its premiere at the Stratford Festival. Kate is currently writing Mother’s Daughter which will round out the Queenmaker Trilogy. Kate received stellar reviews for her adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s stories for children, Wilde Tales, which played in the 2017 Shaw Festival season. Born in England and raised in Alberta, she lives and writes in Stratford, Ontario. Visit for more information.

Gary Mok is a Chinese-Canadian storyteller who recently graduated from the Playwriting program at the National Theatre School of Canada. He is currently developing his play i broke the ocean at Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre. Gary is fluent in English, Cantonese, and the songs from Moana.

Kelley Jo Burke is a playwright and creative nonfiction writer/producer. Her plays include:  the upcoming Us,  created with Jeff Straker (Regina Globe Theatre, 2018), Ducks on the Moon (Hagios), The Selkie Wife (Scirocco), Jane's Thumb (Signature), and Charming and Rose: True Love (Blizzard). Her eighth CBC Radio IDEAS documentary Bringing Up Fur Baby was heard across Canada in May 2017. 

She also teaches, edits, dramaturges, directs, and produces for stage and radio, and was a host/producer for CBC Radio for 13 years. She has been the recipient of multiple arts awards, including three City of Regina Writing Awards and the Saskatchewan Lieutenant-Governor's award for arts leadership.

Actor and writer, Claude Montminy is also co-director of the Nouveau théâtre de l’Île d’Orléans since 2012. His first comedy, Voleurs d’occasion, was created in 2005 and has been professionally staged a number of times. In 2010, he completed a Master’s degree in literature, particularly interested by historical characters in children’s theatre. Since then, he has written many plays, all created on professional stages. Critics and audiences have been thrilled by these comedies: Les Inséparables, Cheeese!, Un Coup de Maître, Bébé à bord, Un pied dans la bouche and Maestro, this last play being his first one to be translated in English.

Morris Panych graduated from Creative Writing at UBC in 1977, and had his first professional production in 1982 with Last Call for Tamahnous Theatre in Vancouver. Since that time, he has written twenty plays and adapted half a dozen others. He has twice won the Governor General's Literary Award for Drama, the highest honour for playwriting in Canada.