Prof's 'Rare' Play Returns to Toronto

January 28, 2013 - Campus Bulletin

A play by a University of Guelph professor that draws the audience into the lives of people with Down syndrome opens tonight in Toronto. Judith Thompson’s docudrama Rare will be at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts until Feb. 7.

The play features nine cast members aged 22 to 37, all with Down syndrome. They vary from experienced to novice actors.

Rare was the biggest hit at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival last summer, and was the "Best of Fringe" winner.

Written and directed by Thompson, the play has received rave reviews and was featured recently in the Toronto Star . It's the first of a series of plays Thompson is creating on the issue of people living with disabilities.

The play’s assistant director and associate producer is Nicholas Hutcheson, a U of G alumnus, and the music was composed and is performed by another Guelph graduate, Victoria Carr. Several students and graduates in U of G theatre studies also worked on the production.

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.

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