Patrick O'Neill Award/ Le prix Patrick O'Neill

The Patrick O’Neill Award is given each year to the best edited collection published in either English or French on a Canadian theatre and performance topic. The award is given in alternate years to a play anthology and an essay collection.

Le prix Patrick O’Neill récompense chaque année le meilleur ouvrage collectif, publié en français ou en anglais, traitant de théâtre ou de performance au Canada. Le prix est décerné en alternance à une anthologie de pièces et à un recueil d’essais.

Deadline: January 2020.

2019 Winner


Indian Act, ed. Donna-Michelle St. Bernard (Playwrights Canada Press, 2018)

Honorable Mentions:

Past Lives:  Performing Canada’s Histories, ed. Heather Davis-Fisch (Playwrights Canada Press, 2017)

Queer / Play, ed. Moynan King (Playwrights Canada Press, 2017)

 Prize: Indian Act: Residential School Plays. Ed. Donna Michelle St-Bernard. Playwrights Canada Press, 2018.

Donna-Michelle St. Bernard’s collection, Indian Act: Residential School Plays, from Playwrights Canada Press, is, as the press’s description reads, “a tribute and thank you to those who survived the Indian Residential School system so that future generations could be free to pursue their lives unhindered by educationally enforced lowered expectations and institutionalized abuse. Seven plays by contemporary First Nations and Metis playwrights cover the broad scope of residential school experiences, all kinds of characters, and no stereotypes, giving voice to those who could not be heard.”

In her introduction, “Grow Up Already,” St. Bernard, a self-described “emcee, playwright, and agitator,” puts into relief the tension between learning about this country as a “New Canadian” and the stories deliberately absented from the Canadian school system. “Some of what we want to know would be unkind to ask,” notes St. Bernard. “Some of those we want to hear speak have a right to their silence. The playwrights in this volume have started the work for us; they have generously opened very personal wounds, dug deep into research that they can’t shake off. They outline a trajectory of impact that is not yet complete.”

The playwrights, and St. Bernard, have started the work; it is up to us to continue it, in our classrooms, on our stages, and late at night with the books we choose to keep on our nightstands by our reading glasses. St. Bernard’s highly impressive work in amassing this collection also demonstrates an increasingly familiar collaboration not only between art and social justice—less a collaboration, really, than an imperative—but rather that between artists and witnesses and survivors to the atrocities history leaves behind and leaves out. Indian Acts reminds readers—settler, Indigenous, scholar, and student—that theatre creates a highly privileged space and opportunity for un-telling and un-learning mis-told histories that, as settler scholars working on this stolen land, we are implicated in and culpable for. It becomes our work, now, to ensure that we are sure of what history we ourselves are telling and teaching. Congratulations, and thank you, to Donna-Michelle St. Bernard.

Honourable Mention:

Past Lives: Performing Canada’s Histories. Ed. Heather Davis-Fisch. Playwrights Canada Press, 2017.

“Historical drama is not just about the past, but is about both present and future moments as well,” writes Heather Davis-Fisch in her Introduction to Past Lives: Performing Canada’s Histories—the companion anthology to her scholarly collection Canadian Performance Histories and Historiographies. In Past Lives, Davis-Fisch, who is Associate Professor at the University of the Fraser Valley in BC, continues to trouble—as she did in Canadian Performance Histories and Historiographies—the seemingly contradictory yet concurrent matters of the “strangeness” of identifying what constitutes ‘Canadian’ drama through the variegated stages of colonization and Confederation, and the anxiety over what constitutes a ‘Canadian identity and culture’ in itself. Bringing together familiar and lesser so plays from the late nineteenth to the late twentieth centuries, Davis-Fisch chronicles a century of these ongoing debates through the dramatic texts that have engaged them. Altogether an editorial tour-de-force, Past Lives’s most valuable contribution to theatre and performance studies in this shared land may be Davis-Fisch’s methodological intervention into how one theorizes history through its dramatic retellings—both in the stories these plays reveal and those they withhold—and our critical engagement with them.

Honourable Mention:

Queer / Play: An Anthology of Queer Women’s Performance and Plays. Ed. Moynan King. Playwrights Canada Press, 2018.

Toronto-based writer, performer, director, and curator Moynan King brings together ten performance texts by emerging and established queer artists in Queer/Play: An Anthology of Queer Women’s Performance and Plays, introducing each not with the conventional scholarly narrative but rather with an interview between the playwrights and scholars, theatre artists, writers, comedians, even grants officers (!). These interviews not only animate the texts into new contexts and conversations, but also give the artists critical voice alongside the creative. King bookends Queer/Play with two especially personal pieces—the Introduction, in which she imagines performance for both readers and audiences as “a living exchange”—and a roundtable comprised of Canadian comics that King facilitates. “I think that we are the radicals of the whole art scene,” Dawn Whitwell says at one point, and, while she is talking about comedians’ intervention into a stratified art world, we think that her comment resonates with the force grounding King’s collection. This book, with its divergent collection of artists, vivid photographs of performances, and innovative organization of chats and texts, creates a not only a necessary archive of queer feminist performance but also, like play—“Play is fun,” King notes—a thoroughly fun experience.

2019 O'Neill Committee: Nikki Cesare-Schotzko (Co-Chair), Kim Solga (Co-Chair), Jen Harvie, Harvey Young

Past Winners

2018 - Performance Studies in Canada, ed. Laura Levin and Marlis Schweitzer (McGill-Queen’s UP, 2017)

2018 (Honorable Mention) - Performing Indigeneity, ed. Ric Knowles and Yvette Nolan (Playwrights Canada Press, 2016)

2017 - Stephen Orlov and Samah Sabawi, eds. Double Exposure: Plays of the Jewish and Palestinian Diasporas. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2016.

2017 (Honorable Mention) - Dalbir Singh, ed. Performing Back: Post-Colonial Canadian Plays. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2016.

2016 - Jan Selman and Jane Heather. Theatre, Teens, Sex Ed: Are We There Yet. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2015.

2016 (Honorable Mention) - David Dean, Yana Meerzon et Kathryn Prince (eds.), History, Memory, and Performance. Basingstoke : Palgrave MacMillan, 2015.

2015 - Natalie Alvarez, ed. Fronteras Vivientes: Eight Latino/a Canadian Plays. Toronto: Playwrights Canada, 2013.

2014 - Natalie Alvarez, ed. Latina/o: Canadian Theatre and Performance. Toronto: Playwrights Canada, 2013.

2014 - (Honorable Mention) Roberta Barker and Kim Solga, eds. New Canadian Realisms: New Essays on Canadian Theatre. Toronto: Playwrights Canada, 2012.

2014 - (Honorable Mention) Judith Rudakoff, ed. TRANS(per)FORMING Nina Arsenault: An Unreasonable Body of Work. Intellect, 2012.

2013 - Roberta Barker and Kim Solga, eds. New Canadian Realisms: Eight Plays. Toronto: Playwrights Canada, 2012.

2013 - (Honorable mention) Kamal Al-Solaylee, ed. Tonight at the Tarragon: A Critic's Anthology. Toronto: Playwrights Canada, 2011.

2013 - (Honorable mention) Dennis Johnson, ed. Grassroots: Original Plays from Ontario Community Theatres. Toronto: Playwrights Canada, 2011.

2012 - Nina Lee Aquino and Ric Knowles, eds. Asian Canadian Theatre. Toronto: Playwrights Canada, 2011.

2011 - Louise Forsyth, ed. Anthology of Quebec Women’s Plays in English Translation. Vol III (1997-2009). Toronto: Playwrights Canada, 2010.

2011 - (Honourable Mention) André Bourassa, ed. La Trilogie inachevée. Montreal: L’instant scene, 2010.

2011 - (Honourable Mention) Cynthia Zimmerman, ed. Reading Carol Bolt.. Toronto: Playwrights Canada, 2010.