PGC Announces the 2017 Tom Hendry Awards Shortlist (FULL)

Playwrights Guild of Canada (PGC) proudly announces the shortlists for its 2017 Tom Hendry Awards. The shortlists for the Carol Bolt Award, the RBC Emerging Playwright Award, the Robert Beardsley Award as well as the Stage West Pechet Comedy & Musical Awards have been released by their respective juries.


Carol Bolt Award – 2017 Short List
This award is given annually for the best work by a PGC-member that has premiered in the past year. This year's Carol Bolt Award is in loving memory of both David and Carol Bolt. JURY: Philip Akin (Chair), Joanna Falck, Rod Hayward, and Kevin Longfield.
Kate Hennig (ON) for The Virgin Trial,
Karen Hines (AB) for All the Little Animals I Have Eaten, and
Sean Harris Oliver (Co-creator: Raes Calvert) (BC) for Redpath.

Stage West Pechet Family Musical Award – 2017 Short List
This award is given annually for a new musical work by a PGC-member, which has not yet had a premiere production. JURY: Ted Dykstra (Chair), Clara Bullock, Meghan Gardiner, and Peter Jorgensen.
Kelley Jo Burke (Co-creators: Jeffrey Straker) (SK) for Us,
Julie McIsaac & Corey Payette (BC) for Les Filles Du Roi, and
Joe Slabe (AB) for The Urban Jungle Book.

Stage West Pechet Family Comedy Award – 2017 Short List
This award is given annually for a new comedy by a PGC-member, which has not yet had a premiere production. JURY: Drew Hayden Taylor (Chair), Neil Fleming, Joanne Miller, and Julie Orton.
Kristen Da Silva (ON) for Sugar Road,
Darrin Hagen (Co-creator: Trevor Schmidt) (AB) for Prepare for the Worst!, and
Claude Montminy (Translated by Nina Lauren and Danielle Ellen (QC) for Maestro.

RBC Emerging Playwright Award – 2017 Short List
This award is given annually for the best play by a PGC-member who is an emerging playwright. JURY: (Chair), Janet Hinton, and Daniel MacDonald.
Gary Mok (ON) for we could be clouds,
Camille Pavlenko (AB) for The Janus Mask, and
Chelsea Woolley (AB) for These Peaceable Kingdoms.

Robert Beardsley Award
The Arts & Letters Club of Toronto Foundation’s 2017 Short List

This award is to be granted to a full-time secondary or post-secondary student within the GTA for the creation of a one-act play script. JURY: Tom Slater (Chair), Emma Mackenzie Hillier, and Norm Reynolds.
Lily Domingue (ON) for For Marnie,
Alexandra Simpson (ON) for NEXUS, and
Alexander Steele Zonjic (ON) for Enola Gay.



Synopses of Shortlisted Plays

Carol Bolt Award for Playwrights:
Sponsored by Alberta Playwrights’ Network, Playwrights Canada Press, Pat the Dog Theatre Creation, Playwrights' Atlantic Resource Centre (PARC), Playwrights Theatre Centre (PTC), Playwrights’ Workshop Montreal, Saskatchewan Playwrights Centre, and Playwrights Guild of Canada.

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?

All the Little Animals I Have Eaten by Karen Hines - A sleep-deprived grad student endures the toughest shift of her life, slinging hyper-local food to well-heeled insurance adjustors, plagiarists, equine masseuses and other famished professionals. Inspired by the Bechdel-Wallace Test, this play features an all-female cast that also includes dead writers, lionhearted lambs and all manner of female organisms. As Frankie tries, between tables, to finish her term paper entitled ‘Why Women Aren’t Funny,’ she finds herself haunted by them all in this comedy that is as dark as blackened Fugu and as tender as a lamb loin licked with gooseberry demi-glaze.

Redpatch by Sean Harris Oliver & Raes Calvert - A young Métis man, Jonathon Woodrow, volunteers to fight for Canada during the first world war. Redpatch is a historical fiction that investigates how First Nations' soldiers fought for the Allied forces during the Great War.

The Stage West Musical Award:
Sponsored by the Stage West Pechet Family.

Us by Kelley Jo Burke & Jeffrey 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 LGBT+++ 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."

Les Filles Du Roi by Julie McIsaac & Corey Payette - LES FILLES DU ROI is a new trilingual musical written and performed English, French and the Mohawk dialect of Kanien'kéha. In the summer of 1665, a young Mohawk girl, Kateri, and her brother Jean-Baptiste feel their lives disrupted as young fille du roi Marie-Jeanne Lespérance arrives at the French settlement of Ville-Marie. Recruited by the French government to help further its colonial ambitions and increase the population of New France, Marie-Jeanne soon discovers that her dreams of adventure have implications beyond her personal journey. Thrust between the competing interests of the Mohawk, French, and the British, the characters build a complex web of relationships that set the stage for the Canada we know today.

The Urban Jungle Book by Joe Slabe - Michael is a foster kid with a vivid imagination. Whenever the world gets a bit much for him, he retreats into the amazing world inside his head, and the people in his life become the characters from his favourite story – The Jungle Book.

Ever since his mother’s death, Michael has been under the care of his social worker, Chase, who has finally found the ideal home for him with Mrs. Lowell and her pack of foster kids. Initially shy, Michael comes into his own through the friendship of his foster brother, Conor, and some friendly advice from the woman who runs the corner store, Berdine.

In Michael’s imagination, Mrs. Lowell becomes Mother Wolf, Chase becomes Bagheera, Berdine becomes Baloo and Conor becomes Grey Brother. But Michael is tormented by the memory of his father who he imagines to be Shere Khan, intent on destroying him.

So, when Michael’s father is released from prison and comes back to claim him, Michael’s world is turned upside down and he must find the courage to live in the real world and find the true meaning of family.

The Urban Jungle Book is a modern take on the Rudyard Kipling stories and uses pop, rock and rap music, as well as almost continuous movement, to tell these familiar stories in a way you’ve never seen before.

The Stage West Comedy Award:

Sponsored by the Stage West Pechet Family.

Sugar Road by Kristen Da Silva - One summer, Sugar Road Amusement Park was the setting for the Spurs and Hearts Music Festival, where a young Hannah Taylor was swept up in a one-night romance with country music's hottest rising star, Jesse Emberley. Now it's twelve years later and the whole town is buzzing with anticipation for the return of the festival to Sugar Road. When Hannah and Jesse are reunited, will they find the same magic, or was their night together just a part of the past that can't be recaptured?

Prepare for the Worst! by Darrin Hagen & Trevor Schmidt - Neighbours Arlene and Henny are preparing for a community info-session on the anticipated Cold War apocalypse. As Arlene rankles against the limitations of being a woman in picture-perfect suburbia, she also realizes Henny is more prepared for the end of the world than she is. Their friendship and their loyalty is stretched to the breaking point. In the Atomic Age, will they still be friends?

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.

The RBC Emerging Playwright Award:
Sponsored by the RBC Emerging Artists Fund.

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.

The Janus Mask by Camille Pavlenko - The lives of four British ex-pats collide on the shores of Ibiza in 1997. The duality of The Janus Mask sets sunrise against sunset, brother against sister, life against death, and offers a brutally intimate look at gender dysphoria through a lens of mysticism.

These Peaceable Kingdoms by Chelsea Woolley - Puritan butcher, Robert Goodman, has firm command of his righteous and God-fearing family. A mad wife, a violent brother, and a past of carnal temptations however, threaten the pillars of his kingdom.


List of the Playwright’s Bios

Carol Bolt Award for Playwrights – Shortlisted Playwrights

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 Queens 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.

Karen Hines is an award-winning writer, director and performer and the artistic director of Keep Frozen: Pochsy Productions, which develops Hines’ dark comedies for stage and screen. She is the author of Crawlspace, All the Little Animals I Have Eaten, Drama: Pilot Episode, Citizen Pochsy, Hello…Hello (A Romantic Satire), Oh, babyand Pochsy’s Lips as well as several short plays and the Neo-Cabaret Pochsy Unplugged, which have been presented across North America and in Germany at venues such as Alberta Theatre Projects, Tarragon Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Joe's Pub (Public Theatre, NYC), Word Stage, Factory Theatre, Magnetic North, One Yellow Rabbit, Beme Theatre in Munich and Toronto's Videofag.
Hines is a two-time finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for Drama for her trilogy of Pochsy Plays and for Drama: Pilot Episode. Other awards and citations for productions of her plays including the Dora Mavor Moore Award for performance, the Betty Mitchell Award for New Play, two Alberta Writers Guild Awards, twice finalist for the Chalmers Award for Playwriting (Hello...Hello, Oh, baby) and sixteen Dora nominations. Karen is also a Dora Award-winning director.
Karen is a Second City alumna and long-time collaborator with fellow alums Sandra Balcovske and composer Greg Morrison. Their prize-winning short films, featuring the character Pochsy, have screened at festivals around the globe. At Second City, Karen also met horror clown duo Mump & Smoot and has directed all their shows to date from Canadian Fringe Festivals to Yale Repertory, Off Broadway, across America and overseas. She directe Linda Griffiths’ HeavenAbove/HeavenBelow (Theatre Passe Muraille) and was director and dramatuge for the premiere production of Griffiths' Age of Arousal.
Karen has performed in film, television and onstage and co-starred in Ken Finkleman’s Emmy Award-winning (Canadian) satire The Newsroom, as well as his Foreign Objects and Married Life for which she was nominated for Gemini and CableACE Awards.She has written for magazines, anthologies and literary journals and has won Western and National Magazine Awards. She has spoken at universities and literary festivals and teaches also in conservatory settings. All of her plays are published by Coach House Books.
Karen has been playwright in residence at Tarragon Theatre (1995-96) and at Alberta Theatre Projects (2009-2012) and has been Artist in Residence at Vancouver's Boca del Lupo, Toronto's Videofag, and at the Manitoulin Conservatory fro Creation and Performance. She was born in Chicago, raised in Toronto and now lives in Calgary, where she is writing columns for Swerve Magazine, a feature film version of Crawlspace, and has recently premiered All the Little Animals I Have Eaten, which played to sold-out houses at One Yellow Rabbit's High Performance Rodeo and just published it together with Crawlspace in two-play book, Animals under the auspices of Coach House Books.

Sean Harris Oliver is a Canadian playwright, director, performer and filmmaker. His work has appeared throughout Canada and the US in a variety of arts festivals, public readings and theatre productions. His first play Bright Blue Future was produced by Hardline Productions and was subsequently nominated for 3 Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards, as well as being a finalist for the Theatre BC Playwriting Competition.His two newest plays have gone on to earn numerous distinctions including being shortlisted for the 2016 Kevin Spacey Theatre Award for Redpatch, the Georgia Straight's Critics Choice Award as well as a Jessie Richardson Theatre Award nomination for 'Outstanding New Script' for The Fighting Season. Since 2010 Sean has written, performed and directed plays with Hardline Productions, a Vancouver based theatre production company that he co-founded with Raes Calvert and Genevieve Fleming. The company converted an office space in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver into a 30-seat black box theatre where they produced numerous artistic works, nightclub parties, and workshops for emerging artists. In 2013 the group left their Gastown space, but not before producing Our Neighbourhood in tribute of the DTES community. Sean is a graduate of Studio 58.

Stage West Musical Award – Shortlisted Playwrights

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.

Julie McIsaac studied music at Carleton University, theatre performance at the Canadian College of Performing Arts, and most recently earned her Master’s degree (Writing, Directing and Performance) from the University of York (UK). She is Artistic Associate of Firepot Performance ( and is currently Artist-in-Residence at Pacific Opera Victoria. Julie is the playwright, composer/arranger, and co-sound designer of Firepot’s The Out Vigil, which premiered at the Firehall Arts Centre in 2016 (Jessie award with Jay Clift for Outstanding Sound Design / Original Composition). The Out Vigil was also featured in the 2015 New American Voices Festival in London’s West End and received a new production at Theatre Newfoundland Labrador’s 2017 Gros Morne Theatre Festival. As an actor, singer, and musician, Julie has performed on stages throughout Western Canada, where she is an Ovation award winner, a three-time Jessie award nominee, and a founding member of the Honest Fishmongers. Directing highlights include: Le nozze di Figaro (Opera Studio), Pride and Prejudice (Chemainus), My Rabbi (Sum Theatre), Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me (Dancing Monkey Presents), The Exquisite Hour (Relephant Theatre; inaugural Playhouse Fringe Award) and Associate Director of Corey Payette’s Children of God. Ongoing and upcoming writing/creation: Smear, Two Thirds and The Circus Project (with Sabrina Evertt, Firepot Performance).

Corey Payette is proud of his Oji-Cree heritage from Northern Ontario and has worked as a playwright, actor, composer, and director across Canada. He is the Artistic Director of Urban Ink Productions (Vancouver, BC), past Artist-in-Residence with English Theatre at Canada’s National Arts Centre, and the founder Raven Theatre (Vancouver, BC) focusing on new works by Indigenous artists. Corey was an Artistic Associate with Full Circle: First Nations’ Performance and The Indigenous Cycle at the National Arts Centre on an investigation into the broad spectrum of the Indigenous body of work being created within Canada’s borders. This cycle resulted in the creation of a new department of Indigenous Theatre at the National Arts Centre to begin in 2019.
As a playwright, Corey’s work has been developed at the National Arts Centre, Vancouver Playhouse, Firehall Arts Centre, Western Canada Theatre, Arts Club Theatre, Urban Ink Productions, Full Circle: First Nations Performance, Fugue Theatre, Bard on the Beach, and Raven Theatre. As a musical theatre creator (writer/director), his original musical ‘Children of God’ was developed in collaboration with English Theatre at Canada's National Arts Centre and had its world premiere in May 2017 at the York Theatre (The Cultch) in Vancouver and in June 2017 on the Mainstage at the National Arts Centre. 'Children of God' will tour this season to the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton and Western Canada Theatre in Kamloops. He’s currently writing a new musical 'Les Filles du Roi' (music and direction, co-book/lyrics with Julie McIsaac) in English, French, and Kanien’kéha (Mohawk) commissioned by Fugue Theatre.
Corey’s acting credits include the world premiere of the musical 'The Road Forward' by Marie Clements at the PuSh Festival and docu-feature produced by the National Film Board of Canada, ‘Beyond Eden’ at Theatre Calgary/Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company, ‘La Cage Aux Folles’ at the Vancouver Playhouse, three summers at the Chemainus Theatre Festival, and toured the Yukon with Gwaandak Theatre as the lead in their world premier production ‘Justice’ at the Yukon Arts Centre and was also presented at the NAC's Northern Scene Festival.
Corey holds a B.F.A. in music composition from York University, composed the film score to the documentary AMIN AMIR (OMNI TV), and was the past Grand Chief of the Board of Directors of the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance (IPAA) and board member of Vancouver Native Health Society providing mental, physical, and spiritual relief to Indigenous people on the DTES, Vancouver, BC.

Joe Slabe is a Calgary based writer and composer with a Masters Degree in musical theatre composition from the University of London. This past season, Joe wrote or collaborated on three new shows and his production of Naughty… but Nice! won the 2016 Betty Mitchell Award for Outstanding Production of a Musical. He’s also won four Betties for his musical direction, a Calgary Critics’ Award for Best Production of a Musical for Touch Me: Songs for a (dis)Connected Age, and two writing awards from the New York Musical Theatre Festival for his show, Crossing Swords. Joe’s work has been produced in London, New York, Calgary, and numerous regional theatres in the US and UK. He is the founding artistic director of Forte Musical Theatre Guild and received the 2004 Greg Bond Award for outstanding contributions to musical theatre in Calgary.  His last name rhymes with “The Bay”.

Stage West Comedy Award – Shortlisted Playwrights

Kristen Da Silva is a playwright and actor from Oakville, who was raised in the small farming community of Nobleton, Ontario.Her small town roots show up in most of her plays, which include Book Club, Five Alarm, Gibson & Sons (winner of the 2016 Stage west Pechet Family Comedy Award), Jack's Lake, Sugar Road and Hurry Hard (currently in development with Lighthouse Festival Theatre). In Summer, 2017 she premiered her play Five Alarm at Port Stanley Festival Theatre, followed by a second production at Lighthouse Festival Theatre. Next up is the premiere production of Sugar Road at Theatre Orangeville in October, 2017.

Darrin Hagen is the Artistic Director of Guys In Disguise, which is celebrating three decades of creating drag comedies that have toured across North America. He has received 7 Sterling awards for his work in the Edmonton theatre scene, and over 40 Sterling nominations. His writing debut in 1996 was the award-winning The Edmonton Queen (transformed into book length and published by Brindle & Glass Publishing). Other plays by Darrin include Witch Hunt at the Strand (nominated for Outstanding New Play); Buddy (nominated for Outstanding New Play); With Bells On (nominated for Outstanding New Play); BitchSlap!; The Neo-Nancies: Hitler’s Kickline; Tornado Magnet: A Salute to Trailer Court Women (published by Brindle & Glass); as well as Typhoon Judy (co-written with Christopher Peterson); and PileDriver! (co-written with Wes Borg). His plays have been produced across Canada, in the U.S. and as far away as Ireland.

With his creative partner and artistic associate Trevor Schmidt, he has co-created the hit musical Klondykes (nominated for 5 Sterling awards); Flora & Fawna’s Field Trip (Sterling Award for Outstanding New Fringe Work); Prepare for the Worst! (Sterling Nominee for Outstanding New Fringe Work); Puck Bunnies; PsychoBabble; Dragula and the children’s musical My Other Mother.

He has been inducted into the Q Hall of Fame Canada and the Edmonton Queer Hall of Fame. In 2005 he was named one of 100 Edmontonians of the Century, and last year was named one of Alberta’s 25 Most Influential Artists in the last 25 years. To the best of his knowledge, he’s the only drag queen on that list. He is one of the official Cultural Ambassadors of Canada’s 150 Celebrations.

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, he wrote 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.

RBC Emerging Playwright Award – Shortlisted Playwrights

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.

Camille Pavlenko is a playwright, actor, and improviser based in Alberta. Earlier this summer, her play The Jackal and Her Reflection premiered at NextFest in Edmonton and her earlier work, These Moments of Shine: A Dokumentary, was a finalist in the prestigious Woodward International Playwriting Competition, and later the recipient of an Honourable Mention from the jury of the Herman Voaden Prize. Past productions of her work include Straight On ‘Till Morning (Red Phone Theatre, Calgary) and Permission (One Act Festival, Lethbridge). She holds a BFA (Dramatic Arts) in Performance from the University of Lethbridge and is the inaugural recipient of the Allied Arts Council’s Young Artist Award.

Chelsea Woolley is a Canadian playwright, theatre maker, and educator. She is a graduate of the
National Theatre School of Canada’s Playwright Program, and holds degrees in history and education from the University of Lethbridge. Chelsea’s work includes: The Mountain (Geordie Productions 2PlayTour), These Peaceable Kingdoms(New Words Festival), The Exhibition of Extraordinary Oddities and Living Freaks(Major Matt Mason Collective/The Ignite! Festival), The Only Good Boy (Theatre BSMT, The Exploration Series), and 1000 Names(TheatreXtra). Chelsea’s plays have earned recognition through: The Alberta Playwriting Competition, the Toronto Fringe New Play Contest, the Wildfire National Playwriting Competition, the BSMT Dwellers Playwriting Competition, and the University of Lethbridge Play Right Prize. In 2016, Chelsea attended the Banff Playwright’s Colony and in 2017, the National New Play Network’s MFA Playwright’s Workshop at the Kennedy Centre, in Washington, DC. She is currently a member of Theatre Direct’s New Creation Unit, and Nightwood Theatre’s Write from the Hip program in Toronto, Canada.