Drama Prof Finalist for Governor General's Award

October 22, 2008 - News Release

University of Guelph drama professor and playwright Judith Thompson is a finalist for the 2008 Governor General's Literary Awards for her political play Palace of the End.

The nominees were announced Tuesday by the Canada Council for the Arts. One of Canada's most distinguished playwrights, Thompson has won two previous Governor General's awards for drama, in 1989 for The Other Side of the Dark and in 1984 for White Biting Dog. This year's winners will be announced Nov. 18 in Montreal. Winners receive $25,000 and finalists get $1,000.

Palace of the End earned Thompson the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Prize in March. She was the first Canadian to win the annual award. The play consists of three storylines that capture the global effects of the Iraq War. It was debuted at the Edinburgh Festival and was produced in Toronto and Florence, Italy.

The first fictional monologue is based on Lynndie England, the young female American soldier who was convicted for torturing detainees. The second monologue features British microbiologist David Kelly, who told the BBC that the dossier justifying the invasion of Iraq was grossly exaggerated. The third tells the story of Narjis al Saffarh, a leading Communist in the 1960s and mother of four, who was brutally tortured by the Baathists and finally killed by American bombs.

Thomspon, a U of G professor since 1992, is known for her complex and sometimes disturbing plays that give voice to human failings and accomplishments.

She was nominated for a Genie Award twice for her screenplays Perfect Pie and Lost and Delirious. She also received the Floyd S. Chalmers Canadian Play Award for Lion in the Streets I Am Yours .

In 2007 she won the prestigious Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts, administered and presented by the Canada Council for the Arts. That same year, she was also among six finalists for the inaugural Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. In 2006, her play, Enoch Arden, was nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award.

Thompson was named an officer of the Order of Canada in 2005, considered the country’s highest honour of lifetime achievement, for her outstanding contributions in arts and writing.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338/l.hunt@exec.uoguelph.ca, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982/d.healey@exec.uoguelph.ca.

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