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A new name for Winnipeg’s annual theatre awards announced along with this year’s nominees and honorary award recipients

 Nominees and Honorary Award recipients have been revealed for the Winnipeg Theatre Awards, to be held on  Nov. 4, 2018 at the West End Cultural Centre — along with a new name for the awards celebrating excellence in Winnipeg theatre.

Sponsored by the Gail Asper Family Foundation, this is the second annual awards event recognizing the rich talent in Winnipeg’s exceptional theatre community.

Following consultation with Winnipeg theatre fans and professionals this year, the Winnipeg Theatre Awards will, by popular consensus, be called The Evies, after Winnipeg actor and theatre pioneer Evelyne Anderson. Hailed as “the grand dame of Winnipeg theatre,” Evelyne was the first-ever recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at last year’s event.

This year’s awards ceremony will be co-hosted by Trish Cooper and Gord Tanner, who have appeared on stages around the city and were members of the much-loved sketch comedy troupe The Royal Lichtenstein Theatre Company.

Nominees have been announced in 10 juried categories, along with the recipients of four honorary awards.

A total of 16 different productions produced locally during the 2017-18 season were nominated in the 10 juried categories:

  • The Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s dark comedy The Humans is the most-nominated show, with six nominations.

  • Tied at five nominations each are Deserter, Moving Target Theatre’s examination of a war deserter’s struggle with PTSD; the Royal MTC’s Outside Mullingar and Nine Dragons;  Shakespeare in the Ruins’ gender-bending Timon of Athens; and Rainbow Stage’s summer musical hit, Beauty and the Beast.

Twelve different theatres and companies have been nominated. The Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s Tom Hendry Warehouse has the most nominations, at 10. Other nominated theatres are:

  • Manitoba Theatre for Young People - 1

  • Moving Target Theatre - 5

  • Prairie Theatre Exchange - 3

  • Rainbow Stage - 7

  • Royal MTC John Hirsch Mainstage - 9

  • Sarasvati Productions - 1

  • Shakespeare in the Ruins - 5

  • Theatre by the River / Theatre Incarnate - 3

  • Théâtre Cercle Moliére - 1

  • Theatre Projects Manitoba - 4

  • Winnipeg Jewish Theatre - 1

This spring, nominations were invited from the community for four Honorary Awards. Recipients of these awards, to be presented at this year’s awards ceremony, are:

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Scott Henderson is a lighting designer extraordinaire. A consummate artist and a dedicated colleague, his local credits include 60 productions for the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, 46 for Prairie Theatre Exchange, 28 for Rainbow Stage and 12 for Dry Cold Productions. A multi-faceted artist, in addition to lighting plays and musicals, Scott has designed for dance and opera companies, including 10 productions for Manitoba Opera. Nationally his work has graced stages from coast to coast including the Stratford and Shaw festivals. A champion of the next generation of theatre artists, Scott has taught lighting at the University of Winnipeg and mentored many young designers.

Scott’s gift is his ability to combine technical excellence with amazing artistry. An intelligent and intuitive designer, his work always supports a production and never says, ”Look at me, I’m lighting!” He passionately believes that lighting should elevate and enhance what is happening on stage and masterfully accomplishes this in large and small-scale productions alike. Equally comfortable with bold spectacle and intimate, poetic drama, Scott’s work is elegant and stunningly beautiful.

A true artist, Scott is known to work on details in his design right up until the last possible moment — often refining his work five minutes before a first audience is let into the theatre.

He has achieved great professional success, producing work of the highest calibre.  More importantly, he is respected and admired by his students, loved by his colleagues and adored by his family and close friends. His work has delighted audiences for decades and has left an indelible mark on the Winnipeg theatre scene.

BEHIND THE SCENES AWARD

Firearms safety specialist Dave Brown has a long and storied career in Manitoba theatre. He has worked quietly behind the scenes for nearly 25 years and has gotten to know almost everyone in our community. From the most elaborate productions at the Royal MTC to the smallest community theatre or Fringe show Dave is always there — even for those who cannot afford his services. In order to have live gunshots on stage, theatres rely heavily on Dave’s careful choreography. With great skill, serious professionalism and wonderful humour, he addresses all the risks involved and properly trains each and every cast and crew member.  

His contribution to Winnipeg theatre extends past working behind the scenes. Dave is passionate about education and lovingly works to keep the next generation trained and safe. An advocate of education and training, Dave is in demand as a lecturer on safety in the entertainment industry. He was invited to speak at the recent annual conference of the Canadian Institute for Theatre Technology (CITT) and helped to design the firearms safety module for all IATSE locals across North America.

Dave Brown is a huge asset to the city of Winnipeg. We all know the spark in his eye that is ignited every time he gets to sit in a darkened theatre in order to help bring the fantasy on stage to life. When asked why he spent so much time helping out the smallest production for little or no pay he said, “These are my friends. I need to keep them safe.”

THEATRE EDUCATOR AWARD

Chris Johnson is a retired theatre professor from the University of Manitoba. In his 40 years as a theatre educator he was responsible for teaching thousands of theatre students, creating the theatre program at the U of M and launching the landmark Black Hole Theatre.

Chris’s level of commitment to Winnipeg theatre extends well beyond classroom and university productions as he continues to work with former students on Winnipeg Fringe shows and independent productions. Chris has served on the boards of directors for Shared Stage, Prairie Theatre Exchange and Theatre Projects Manitoba. Chris championed the building of a beautiful new state-of-the-art facility — the John J. Conklin Theatre in the Gail Asper Performing Arts Hall in Tache Hall at the U of M and forged a unique liaison with Prairie Theatre Exchange which allows U of M students to both get course credit for PTE classes and to benefit from the expertise available there. He has a passion for working on the development of new plays by emerging local writers and has been invaluable in the growth of many in our community as theatre artists. Chris will do anything to help his students succeed and, as a supporter of all Winnipeg theatre, can be found in the audience of professional and independent productions of all shapes, sizes, and budgets.

If you were to ask any of his past students who their biggest supporter is, all of them will undoubtedly say “Chris Johnson.”  Chris saw, and continues to see, his role as a theatre professor as a nurturer. Hundreds and hundreds of theatre artists, many education students who went on to teach theatre throughout the province, and countless others who continue to enjoy life in and with the theatre began their journey with Chris Johnson as their most dedicated guide. His passion for theatre and young artists is inspiring.

THEATRE CHAMPION AWARD

Gail Asper is a passionate champion of all of the arts in Winnipeg. A true gift to our community, Gail is wildly proud of our local artists and freely gives of her time, talents and resources. She does this not as a duty but out of a deep love and strong commitment to what she knows the arts bring to artists and audiences in our city.  Gail loves theatre and this enthusiasm has been demonstrated over and over by her funding of education initiatives, dedication to fundraising efforts, support of the creation of the Winnipeg Theatre Awards and service on multiple arts stabilization and theatre boards (including those of the Royal MTC and PTE).

Gail’s contribution to the arts scene in Winnipeg is immeasurable. The breadth of her financial support is, of course, extensive and a gift to the entire community — from large regional companies to the smallest artist-driven endeavor. But of even more value is her genuine interest, her gifts of time and advice, her humour and her ability to assess a problem and offer a solution. She believes in us and we feel that she is one of us. A gifted performer in her own right, her support for the arts comes from a place of true understanding. Her confidence in the vision of the theatre artists of Winnipeg has fed us, fostered us and sustained us.  

For over 30 years Gail has demonstrated again and again a deep and profound love and respect for the arts in Winnipeg as well as throughout Canada. Her list of contributions to the Winnipeg and national arts scenes is incredibly impressive. Gail supports companies of all sizes from a variety of disciplines and is a strong champion for smaller companies with seemingly impossible aspirations. She is devoted in her support of all artists and organizations and we would be hard-pressed to find a company that has not benefited from her enthusiastic patronage. These relationships are a testament to her loyalty and desire to help companies grow and develop. Never jaded in her opinions, Gail is extremely educated about the arts and has managed to maintain an enviable, wide-eyed wonder and appreciation for everything she sees.   Gail Asper is pure gold — a treasure unique to Winnipeg and beloved by our community.

Tickets to the Winnipeg Theatre Awards are on sale now!  

Tickets are $25 in advance and available online at www.winnipegtheatreawards.com or at the West End Cultural Centre. Remaining tickets will be $30 at the door.

Full list of 2017-18 Nominations for The Evies

Outstanding Lead Actor

John Bourgeois, The Humans, Royal MTC John Hirsch Mainstage

Mbulelo Grootboom, Ubuntu (The Cape Town Project), Prairie Theatre Exchange

Mike Nadajewski, Outside Mullingar, Royal MTC Tom Hendry Warehouse

Jeff Strome, Deserter, Moving Target Theatre

Karl Thordarson, Tender Napalm, Theatre by the River & Theatre Incarnate

Outstanding Lead Actress

Sarah Constible, Timon of Athens, Shakespeare in the Ruins

Alicia Johnston, Outside Mullingar, Royal MTC Tom Hendry Warehouse

Daina Leitold, Tender Napalm, Theatre by the River & Theatre Incarnate

Tracey Nepinak, A Short History of Crazy Bone, Theatre Projects Manitoba

Stephanie Sy, Beauty and the Beast, Rainbow Stage

Outstanding Supporting Actor

Nigel Bennett, Outside Mullingar, Royal MTC Tom Hendry Warehouse

Daniel Chen, Nine Dragons, Royal MTC Tom Hendry Warehouse

Kevin Klassen, Beauty and the Beast, Rainbow Stage

Arne MacPherson, Tribes, Winnipeg Jewish Theatre

Ray Strachan, Deserter, Moving Target Theatre

Outstanding Supporting Actress

Jane Burpee, The Humans, Royal MTC John Hirsch Mainstage

Andrea del Campo, Timon of Athens, Shakespeare in the Ruins

Debbie Maslowsky, Breaking Up is Hard to Do, Rainbow Stage

Erin McGrath, Ubuntu (The Cape Town Project), Prairie Theatre Exchange

Laura Olafson, Breaking Up is Hard to Do, Rainbow Stage

Outstanding Ensemble

Beauty and the Beast, Rainbow Stage

A Charlie Brown Double Bill, Manitoba Theatre for Young People

The Humans, Royal MTC John Hirsch Mainstage

Shakespeare in Love, Royal MTC John Hirsch Mainstage

Timon of Athens, Shakespeare in the Ruins

Outstanding Production

The Humans, Royal MTC John Hirsch Mainstage

Outside Mullingar, Royal MTC Tom Hendry Warehouse

A Short History of Crazy Bone, Theatre Projects Manitoba

Timon of Athens, Shakespeare in the Ruins

Shakespeare in Love, Royal MTC John Hirsch Mainstage

Outstanding New Work

Deserter, Daniel Thau-Eleff, Moving Target Theatre

How the Heavens Go, Joseph Aragon, Prairie Theatre Exchange

New Beginnings, a community collaboration from  Sarasvàti Productions

Nine Dragons, Jovanni Sy, Royal MTC Tom Hendry Warehouse

A Short History of Crazy Bone, Patrick Friesen, Theatre Projects Manitoba

Outstanding Director

Philip Akin, The Humans, Royal MTC John Hirsch Mainstage

Michelle Boulet, Timon of Athens, Shakespeare in the Ruins

Craig Hall, Nine Dragons, Royal MTC Tom Hendry Warehouse

Arne MacPherson, Deserter, Moving Target Theatre

Peter Pasyk, Outside Mullingar, Royal MTC Tom Hendry Warehouse

Outstanding Choreography or Fight Direction

Stephanie (SAM) Manchulenko, Jacquie Loewen, Beauty and the Beast, Rainbow Stage

Karl Sine, Nine Dragons, Royal MTC Tom Hendry Warehouse

Jonathan Hawley Purvis, Laura Krewski, Shakespeare in Love , Royal MTC John Hirsch Mainstage

Tanja Woloshen, A Short History of Crazy Bone, Theatre Projects Manitoba

Brenda McLean, Tender Napalm, Theatre by the River & Theatre Incarnate

Outstanding Design

Scott Henderson, Brian Perchaluk, Emily Porter, Christian Hadley, Beauty and the Beast, Rainbow Stage

Geneviève Lizotte, Maude Audet, Thomas Godefroid, Dehors, Théâtre Cercle Molière

Brenda McLean, jaymez, Emma Hendrix, Deserter, Moving Target Theatre

Brian Perchaluk, Hugh Conacher, Michael Wright, The Humans, Royal MTC John Hirsch Mainstage

Scott Reid, Anton De Groot, Deitra Kalyn, Andrew Blizzard, Jamie Nesbitt, Nine Dragons, Royal MTC Tom Hendry Warehouse

 

A note on eligibility:

Eligibility criteria for The Evies can be found at the Winnipeg Theatre Awards website. Professional productions produced by an organization based in the city of Winnipeg during the 2017-18 theatre season were eligible for this year’s awards. Productions presented locally, but not produced by a local company — like the acclaimed Mirvish/Junkyard Dog production of Come From Away, which ran this season at the Royal MTC, for example — are not considered eligible.

Older news:

Announcing the name for our event, as voted by you: The Evies!

Evelyne Anderson has been an inspiration to generations of performers in Winnipeg with a performing career spanned over 50 years. She appeared in 52 productions for the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, 25 productions for Rainbow Stage, as well as performing at Prairie Theatre Exchange, Manitoba Theatre for Young People, Dry Cold Productions and Stage West in Winnipeg. A diverse performer, she took on leading roles in musicals, classical works, and contemporary American and Canadian plays. Evelyne was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the inaugural Winnipeg Theatre Awards in 2017.

Evelyne has also enjoyed performing with other Canadian Companies from coast to coast, specifically The Vancouver Playhouse, Calgary and Edmonton Theatres, Fredericton and Halifax Theatres, and with prestigious Companies located in Charlottetown and the Shaw Festival in Niagara-On-Lake. Earlier experience was gained with theatre training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in Bristol, England and extensive touring in England and the United States.