Drama Prof Wins Two Theatre Awards

June 28, 2011 - News Release

A play by a University of Guelph drama professor won two prestigious Dora Mavor Moore Awards Monday night. Sky Gilbert’s The Situationists was named outstanding new play in the independent theatre production category. Its star, Gemini Award winner Gavin Crawford, won best-actor honours. The play was also nominated for outstanding set design.

“This was an extremely controversial play that made the audience very uncomfortable,” Gilbert said. “The Situationists asks very serious questions about our culture and the place of art, sex and politics within it.”

Specifically, the play asks whether it’s possible to make change, then proceeds to make changes in front of the audience, even including audience members in the process. “It sometimes disturbed the audience to the point that they demanded to see me and/or the actors after the show,” Gilbert said.

“For such an edgy play to be recognized by my peers means a lot to me and everyone involved.”

Written and directed by Gilbert, The Situationists is based on a group of artistic/political agitators in France between 1947 and 1968 who used performance to challenge political systems. The Situationists were also involved with the 1968 Paris riots and union uprisings. Though largely forgotten now, they had enormous influence on European politics.

Gilbert, who holds a University Research Chair in creative writing, is an award-winning playwright, filmmaker, poet, author and director. He has written poetry collections, novels and a theatre memoir, and his plays have been produced around the world.

Gilbert won the Silver Ticket Award in 2005 from the Toronto Theatre Alliance for his career accomplishments and for nurturing Canadian theatre. He has received two Dora Mavor Moore Awards previously and the Pauline McGibbon Award for theatre directing. His next novel, Come Back, will be published in 2012.

"Sky Gilbert's work continues to attract attention and awards,” said Don Bruce, dean of Guelph's College of Arts. “His work is controversial and topical, and forces the audience to deal with some of the many issues of sexuality. This recognition underscores the importance of the arts in bringing important topics to the public and eliciting debate and discussion around them. We congratulate professor Gilbert on this success, both as playwright and as a public voice."

The Dora Mavor Moore Awards, hosted by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, honour creators of almost 200 theatre, dance and opera productions annually. Dora Mavor Moore was a teacher and director who helped establish Canadian professional theatre in the 1930s and '40s.

During Monday's event at Toronto's St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, five Dora awards went to Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (North America’s largest gay and lesbian theatre), for which co-founder Gilbert served as artistic director for 18 years.

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

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