Drama Prof Wins Esteemed Arts Prize

August 08, 2007 - News Release

University of Guelph drama professor Judith Thompson has won the prestigious 2007 Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts. The $50,000 award is administered and presented by the Canada Council for the Arts.

The prize honours the highest level of artistic excellence and distinguished career achievement by Canadian artists who have spent the major part of their career in Canada in theatre, dance or music. It will be formally presented to Thompson in the fall.

"This is outstanding recognition for an outstanding member of our faculty," said president Alastair Summerlee. "The fact that Judith continues to teach undergraduate students and to be engaged in the life of the University makes this an even more remarkable achievement."

Thompson was selected for the award by a peer assessment committee comprising notable Canadian actors, directors, artists, playwrights and scholars. The committee called her a groundbreaking Canadian visionary "possessed of one of the most dynamic and unique theatrical voices anywhere."

"Along with her significant achievements in writing for stage, film and radio, she is increasingly influential as a theatre director, educator and mentor," the committee said.

Thompson, long considered one of Canada’s finest playwrights, has been a U of G faculty member since 1992. She has received wide acclaim for her work and is known for her complex and sometimes disturbing plays that give voice to human failings and accomplishments.

Among her many achievements, she is a two-time winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for Drama; received the Floyd S. Chalmers Canadian Play Award, the Toronto Arts Award and the Canadian Author's Association Award; and was a two-time nominee for a Genie Award. In 2005, she was named an officer of the Order of Canada.

Her works include: The Crackwalker, White Biting Dog, I Am Yours, Lion in the Streets, Sled, Perfect Pie, Habitat, Enoch Arden in the Hope Shelter, and Palace of the End. She has also written two feature films, Lost and Delirious and Perfect Pie, and numerous radio plays.

The Walter Carsen Prize was created in 2001 through a $1.1-million donation to the Canada Council by Toronto businessman and philanthropist Walter Carsen, O.C. It is typically awarded annually on a four-year cycle: dance, theatre, dance, music.

Previous winners include choreographer David Earle, composer Murray Schafer, principal dancer/producer-director Veronica Tennant, playwright John Murrell, and choreographer/director Brian Macdonald.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338 or Deirdre Healey, 519-824-4120, Ext. 56982.

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