Richard Plant Award/ Le prix Richard Plant

Named in honour of the association’s co-founder and a prolific contributor to Canadian theatre scholarship, this award is given annually to the best English-language article on a Canadian theatre or performance topic.

Nommé en l’honneur d’un des cofondateurs de l’Association, ce prix est remis chaque année au meilleur article de langue anglaise traitant de théâtre ou de performance au Canada.

Deadline: January 15, 2018. See here for more.

2018 Winner: 

Alexandra (Sasha) Kovacs, “Beyond Shame and Blame in Pauline Johnson’s Performance Histories”

Alexandra Kovacs's “Beyond Shame and Blame in Pauline Johnson’s Performance Histories” exemplifies the highest thought in research. If offers an historical framework for understanding and reframing Pauline Johnson’s theatrical performances through compelling archival research. And it illustrates the extent to which our willingness to expand our methods and to overturn our assumptions and pre-suppositions transforms the researcher and renders transformative results. At once exhilarating and cautionary, this eloquent work also enjoins us to consider the damage to "early Indigenous subjects" perpetrated by careless "oversight," personal bias, or inappropriate "approaches taken thus far" in research praxis (49). Kovacs builds a strong, elegant defence of those who can no longer speak for themselves, re-writing popular historical notions and re-righting our understanding of the Mohawk performer-poetess Pauline Johnson and her sister, historian Evelyn Johnson.

Pushing against the "critical shaming" of Pauline Johnson for her "troubling," "Indian" costume (40) Kovacs examines the "codes" and "protocols involved in the development of costumes" in the Victorian period (43), demonstrating how Johnson worked within and "beyond" these exigencies by employing her ingenuity, histrionic abilities and key props to transform a versatile material base into an entire wardrobe suited to multiple Indigenous characters. In so doing, we are able to move past questions surrounding Johnson's "authenticity" or accusations levelled against her "hollow activism" and appreciate Pauline Johnson's tenacious creativity, gymnastic performativity, courageous talent, and elegant tenacity. Kovacs allows us to see these aspects of Johnson's life and art through new, unjaded eyes.

In locating and publicizing extant scripts performed (and not authored by) Pauline Johnson, Alexandra Kovacs offers us new ways in which to imagine Johnson's performances and "frees Johnson's sister Evelyn from blame for erasing her entire performance archive" (49). This is a timely and important work, which unsettles the history of Johnson's work in the context of theatre studies in Canada and beyond.

Honourable Mention: 

Michelle Olson, “Heart of the Telling” 

Olson’s article is written lucidly and kinetically. It is bold and unrepentant. This efficient piece offers a real challenge to institutions, funders, researchers, audiences and practitioners, as Olson implicates the national theatre scene in a broader politics of settler-colonialism and within histories of Indigenous creativity that precede decolonial resistance. As she says, “The notion that the work we do as Indigenous artists is counter-narrative is revealing in itself” (14). She offers us a
vision that is both ancient (stemming from Indigenous practices) and seemingly, radically new --for the theatrical old guard.

Olson convincingly notes how important it is to circulate Indigenous works, which refuse to tell “the colonizers’ bedtime story” (14), on main stages across Canada. She writes: “And no matter which direction Indigenous artists are going, we are always going against the current, pulling line and searching to find those old pathways. We know that this is the work: to recall, to reclaim, to trace back through those patterns in the landscape that are so deeply embedded in us. But the obviousness of the work to us does not change its magnitude, its difficulty or its necessity” (15). At the same time Olson points to alternative modes and spaces where research takes place: in somatic training; in spiritual praxis; in the humility to forget what we think “we know”; and in our capacity to extend ourselves to systems of thought and action “far beyond the walls of what we call theatre” (15-16).

2018 Committee: Jill Carter (Chair), Jenn Cole, Benjamin Gillespie


Past Winners

2017 -  Dylan Robinson, “Welcoming Sovereignty,” in Performing Indigeneity, ed. Yvette Nolan and Ric Knowles (Toronto: Playwrights Canada, 2016): 5-32.

2017- (Honorable Mention) - Jill Carter, “The Physics of the Mola: W/Riting Indigenous Resurgence on the Contemporary Stage,” Modern Drama 59.1 (Spring 2016): 1-25.

2016Jill Carter. "Discarding Sympathy, Disrupting Catharsis: The Mortification of Indigenous Flesh as Survivance-Intervention." Theatre Journal 67.3 (2015): 413-32.

2015 - Roberta Barker. "The Gallant Invalid: The Stage Consumptive and the Making of a Canadian Myth" TRIC / RTAC 35.1 (2014)

2014 - VK Preston and Alanna Thain. "Tendering the Flesh: the ABCs of Dave St-Pierre's Contemporary Utopias" TDR 57.4 (2013)

2014 - (Honorable Mention) Ric Knowles and Jess Riley. "Aluna Theatre's Nohayquiensepa: The Intermedial Intercultural and the Limits of Empathy" Latina/o Canadian Theatre and Performance, Toronto: Playwrights Canada, 2013.

2013 - Natalie Alvarez. "Realisms of Redress: Alameda Theatre and the Formation of a Latina/o Canadian Theatre and Politics" New Canadian Realisms Toronto:Playwrights Canada, 2012.

2013 - Louis Patrick Leroux.  “From langue to body — the quest for the ‘real’ in Québécois theatre.”New Canadian Realisms Toronto: Playwrights Canada, 2012.

2012 - Glen Nichols. “Identity in Performance in Carol Shields’s Stage Plays” West-Words: Celebrating Western Canadian Theatre and Playwrighting.

2012 - (Honorable Mention) Christine Kim. “Performing Asian Canadian Intimacy: Theatre Replacement’s Bioboxes and Awkward Multiculturalism” Asian Canadian Theatre. Toronto: Playwrights Canada, 2011.

2011 - Barry Freeman. “Navigating the Prague-Toronto-Manitoulin Theatre Project: A Postmodern Ethnographic Approach to Collaborative Intercultural Theatre.”TRIC 30.1-2 (2009): 58-81.

2011 - Yana Meerzon. “The Exilic Teens: On the Intracultural Encounters in Wajdi Mouawad’s Theatre.”TRIC 30.1-2 (2009): 82-110.

2010 - Laura Levin. “Can the City Speak? Site-Specific Art After Poststructuralism.”Performance and the City. Eds. D.J. Hopkins, Shelley Orr and Kim Solga. London: Palgrave, 2009.

2009 - Kim Solga. “The Line, The Crack, and the Possibility of Architecture: Figure, Ground, Feminist Performance.” TRiC 29.1 (Spring 2008).

2009 - (Honourable mention) Julie Salverson. “Taking liberties: a theatre class of foolish witnesses.” Research in Drama Education 13.2 (June 2008).

2008 - Jennifer Drouin, “Daughters of the Carnivalized Nation in Jean-Pierre Ronfard’s Shakespearean Adaptations Lear and Vie et mort du Roi Boiteux.” TRIC 27.1 (2006).

2007 - Marlis Schweitzer. “Stepping on Stiletto: Kaleidoscope, CAPP, and Controversy.” TRIC 25. 1-2 (2004): 24-42

2007 - (Honourable mention) Jenn Stephenson. “Metatheatre and Authentication through Metonymic Compression in John Mighton’s Possible Worlds.” Theatre Journal 58.1 (March 2006): 73-93.

2006 - Rob Appleford, “Daniel David Moses: A Ghostwriter with a Vengeance,” Aboriginal Drama and Theatre, ed. Rob Appleford. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2005. 150-65.

2005 - Helen Gilbert, “Black and White and Re(a)d All Over Again: Indigenous Minstrelsy in Contemporary Canadian and Australian Theatre,” Theatre Journal 55 (2003): 679-98.

2004 - Denis Salter, “Between Wor(l)ds: LEpage’s Shakespeare Cycle,” Joseph L. Donohoe and Jane Koustas, eds. Theatre sans frontières: Essays on the Dramatic Universe of Robert Lepage. East Lansing: Michigan State UP, 2000. 191-204.

2003 - Sherrill Grace, “Creating the Girl from God’s Country: Nell Shipman and Sharon Pollock,” Canadian Literature 172 (2002): 98-117.

2002 - Patricia Badir, “‘So entirely unexpected’: The Modernist Dramaturgy of Marjorie Pickthall’s The Wood-Carver’s Wife,” Modern Drama 43.2 (Summer 2000).

2001 - Margaret Groome, “Affirmative Shakespeare at Canada’s Stratford Festival,” Essays in Theatre 17.2 (May 1999): 139-64.

2000 - Denis Salter, “Hector Willoughby Charlesworth and the Nationalization of Cultural Authority, 1890 – 1945,” Establishing Our Boundaries: English-Canadian Theatre Criticism, ed. Anton Wagner. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999.

1999 - Jonathan Rittenhouse, “‘Our Granada’: The Granada Theatre, Wellington Street, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, America, the World and Me.” TRIC/RTC 18.2 (Fall 1997): 148-166.

1998 - Robert Nunn, “”Flickering Lights and Declaiming Bodies: Semiosis in Film and Theatre,”TRIC/RTC 17.2 (Fall 1996): 147-159.

1997 - Alan Filewod, “The Comintern and the Canon: Workers’ Theatre, Eight Men Speak and the Genealogy of Mise en scène,” Australasian Drama Studies 29 (Oct. 1996): 17-32.

1996 Not awarded this year.

1995 - Jennifer Harvie & Ric Knowles, “Dialogic Monologue: a Dialogue” TRIC/RTC 15 (Fall 1994):136-163;

1995 - Patrick O’Neill, “The Impact of Copyright Legislation Upon the Publication of Sheet Music in Canada, Prior to 1924,” The Journal of Canadian Studies 28.3 (Fall 1993): 105-22.

1994 - Sheila Rabillard, “Absorption, Elimination, and the Hybrid: Some Impure Questions of Gender and Culture in the Trickster Drama of Tomson Highway,” Essays in Theatre/Études théâtrales 12.1 (Nov. 1993), 3-27.

1993 - Ric Knowles, “The Dramaturgy of the Perverse,” Theatre Research International 17.3: 226-35

1992 - Robert Nunn, “Canada Incognita: Has Quebec Theatre Discovered English-Canadian Plays?” Theatrum 24: 15-19.

1991 - Manina Jones, “The Collage in Motion: Staging the Documentary in Reaney’s Sticks and Stones,” Canadian Drama 16.1 (1989): 1-23.

1990 - Alan Filewod, “Erasing Historical Difference: The Alternative Orthodoxy in Canadian Theatre,” Theatre Journal 41.2 (May 1989): 201-21.

1989 - Ric Knowles, “The Legacy of the Festival Stage,” CTR 54 (Spring 1988): 39-45.