U of G Prof's 'RARE' Play a Hit

July 15, 2012 - News Release

A new play by Judith Thompson, a University of Guelph professor and renowned Canadian playwright, was the biggest hit at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival. RARE was named the best play at the festival. As the "Best of Fringe" winner, the play will be performed at the Toronto Centre for the Arts Aug. 1 to 3.

This docudrama about Down syndrome features nine cast members aged 22 to 37, all with the disorder. They vary from experienced to novice actors. Reviewers have said the actors draw the audience into their lives and into a challenging discussion about the disorder. Up to 97 per cent of women with positive prenatal tests for Down syndrome terminate their pregnancies, according to statistics.

Written and directed by Thompson, the play has received rave reviews and was featured in a Globe and Mail article this month.

Several students and graduates in U of G theatre studies worked on the production, which was the first play invited to be part of the "Best of Fringe" Festival that runs Aug. 1 to 4.

A respected playwright, director, screenwriter, actor and producer, Thompson writes complex and sometimes disturbing plays that give voice to human failings and accomplishments.

A faculty member in U of G’s School of English and Theatre Studies since 1992, Thompson won the 2009 Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award. In 2008, she was the first Canadian to win the international Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. She has been nominated twice for a Genie Award and for the Dora Mavor Moore Awards, was a finalist for the inaugural Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and won the Floyd S. Chalmers Canadian Play Award.

In 2011, Thompson, a two-time winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama, was featured in a CBC Radio series called “Winter Tales” for the 75th anniversary of the Governor General’s Awards and the CBC.

She was named an Officer of the Order of Canada for outstanding contributions in arts and writing in 2005.

She was also the subject of a book, The Masks of Judith Thompson, by U of G theatre studies professor Ric Knowles. Published by Playwrights Canada Press, the book contains articles and interviews offering insight into Thompson’s plays and her life as a playwright and professor.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or lhunt@uoguelph.ca, or Shiona Mackenzie, Ext. 56982, or shiona@uoguelph.ca.

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