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Annual Gina Wilkinson Prize established to benefit emerging female theatre directors

Media Release #31

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, September 21, 2011…Members of The Gina Wilkinson Prize jury are proud to announce the creation of an annual award benefiting emerging female directors and theatre artists looking to transition into the area of direction. The prize pays tribute to Canadian actor, playwright and director Gina Wilkinson and her unyielding dedication, vision and indomitable spirit that imbued her work and her life. The recipient will be chosen from nominations brought forward by members of the Canadian theatre community. This year’s nomination deadline for the inaugural award is December 1st, 2011; with the first award recipient announced on March 10, 2012.

An actor for over twenty years, Ms. Wilkinson began turning her attention to both writing and directing and, in the last few years of her too short life, established herself as a daring, strong, inventive and important director and collaborator in the Canadian theatre community.

Shortly after Gina Wilkinson died in December 2010, a fund was established to benefit emerging female theatre directors. The Gina Wilkinson Prize was made possible by the generous support of over 200 people from all across Canada. In the spirit of Ms. Wilkinson’s generosity and appetite for life, this prize is a gift to be used in any way that the recipient chooses.

Award Details:

Eligibility:
Nominees must be members of the Canadian professional theatre community and Canadian citizens or have permanent resident status, as defined by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

 The Prize:
A $1000.00 prize will be awarded annually. The first recipient will be announced on March 10, 2012.

The Process:
The nomination should consist of:

1)     A nomination letter in support of the nominee by a recognized theatre professional.
2)     An acknowledgement of the nomination by the nominee.
3)     The nominee’s resume.

All nominations must be submitted electronically to the following email address: ginasprize@gmail.com. Nomination deadline: December 1st, 2011. The recipient will be announced on March 10, 2012. The nomination will be reviewed by the Gina Wilkinson Prize Jury: Micheline Chevrier, Bonnie Green, Eda Holmes, Jackie Maxwell, Tom Rooney and Bob White.

Gina Wilkinson – Bio

Born March 10th, 1960, in Victoria, B.C. to visual artist, Jack Wilkinson, and ballet teacher, Marie Wilkinson, Gina Clare Wilkinson graduated from the National Theatre School in Montreal and spent the first 20 years of her career as an actor working in theatres across Canada. Her innate understanding of storytelling in the theatre was an invaluable asset when working on new plays and made her transition from actor to director a natural one. 

Her first directing job was at The Belfry Theatre where she directed a workshop production of Michael Lewis MacLennan’s Grace.  She went on to direct several new plays at Alberta Theatre Projects, including the world premieres of Stephen Massicotte’s Mary’s Wedding and Greg Nelson’s Mick Unplugged.

Ms. Wilkinson attracted the attention of the Toronto theatre scene when she directed the critically acclaimed Summer Works Production of Fish Shack by Bonnie Green. She then began to work more and more exclusively as a director at such theatres as The Blyth Festival (world premiere of Beverley Cooper’s Eyes of Heaven), The Grand Theatre, The Belfry Theatre, Theatre Aquarius, The Shaw Festival and Soulpepper. Her inspired production of Born Yesterday at the Shaw Festival was one of the hits of the 2009 season. The last play she directed, Wide Awake Hearts by Brendan Gall, which was produced at the Tarragon Theatre, garnered the inaugural Toronto Theatre Critics Award for Best Direction and a Dora Nomination for Outstanding Direction.  

Her incredible ability to communicate with everyone involved in the making of a play – actors, designers, technicians – made her a successful director and theatre collaborator. Ms. Wilkinson’s dedication, her imagination, humour and unique visual sensibility were some of her many strengths.  But it was her understanding and compassion for all things human – both the beautiful and the ugly – that made her a true artist.

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For more information, members of the media may contact:

Odette Yazbeck 
Public Relations Director 
905-468-2153 or  1-800-657-1106 ext. 2222 
odette@shawfest.com

Tom Rooney
519-305-0082
tadrooney@yahoo.ca

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