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.

2020 Winner:

Peter Dickinson, C.E. Gatchalian, Kathleen Oliver, and Dalbir Singh. Q2Q: Queer Canadian Theatre and Performance. Playwrights Canada Press, June 2018.

Runner-up (preferred term of the committee):

Natalie Alvarez, Claudette Lauzon, and Keren Zaiontz, eds. Sustainable Tools for Precarious Times: Performance Actions in the Americas. Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.


Patrick O’Neill Award/ Le Prix Patrick O'Neill

This year, we had several excellent submissions to consider as a committee, each of which engaging not only various aspects of Canadian theatre and performance but also, and more so, what we mean and what we understand by Canadian within such categorization. The collections we have determined to be the winner and runner-up this year both challenge and broaden notions of how scholarship might act to reimagine national identity as an expansive and inclusive form of action and activism.

Prize: Q2Q: Queer Canadian Theatre and Performance. Eds. Peter Dickinson, C.E. Gatchalian, Kathleen Oliver, and Dalbir Singh. Playwrights Canada Press, 2018.

Peter Dickinson, C.E. Gatchalian, Kathleen Oliver, and Dalbir Singh’s collection, Q2Q: Queer Canadian Theatre and Performance, from Playwrights Canada Press, asks in its Introduction, “Why is it important not just to continue to tell queer stories on stage, but also to piece together the larger historical narrative of Canadian queer theatrical production and reception through our academic research?” While noted scholarship suggests that it wasn’t until the 1980s and ‘90s that matters of sexuality in North American theatre and performance studies acquired more formal academic attention, Q2Q’s editors look back further to queer playwrights and plays who, already in the 1960s and ‘70s were redefining the modern Canadian canon. They revisit as well venues, like Buddies in Bad Times, Nightwood Theatre, and Native Earth Performing Arts, that, emerging during the same period, prioritized “explorations of sexuality and gender” as well as “developing and staging Two-Spirit work.” Q2Q takes up this scholarly historical aporia not only to reassert the significant role queer theatre and performance has played in the ongoing trajectory of Canadian theatre and performance and its theoretical consideration, but also to reassess how such gaps in one’s own cultural history resonate in new and ongoing tensions in contemporary work.

The artists and scholars whose work comprises Q2Q do not shy away from such tensions; nor do Dickinson, Gatchalian, Oliver, and Singh in their curation. Rather, individually and collectively, they offer a concerted approach to how the label of “queer” functions both to diversify identity under a categorical umbrella while also running the risk of rendering “queerness” as monolithic and homogenous. Or, as the Introduction reads, “[W]hile it may, on some levels (including but not limited to content), be possible to account for the ways in which the ‘subculture’ of queer theatre-making is distinct from the ‘super-culture’ of so-called straight performance, how do we remain accountable to representing on stage all of the subcultures within queer culture itself?” That Q2Q accentuates questions rather than answers emphasizes the collections’ pedagogical and methodological value, as well as the need for “patience and love” through conversations that ask us to confront not only how history is told, but how we, as readers, scholars, artists, and pedagogues, are telling it ourselves in the work we do.

Congratulations, and thank you, to the editors and contributors involved in this exceptional and valuable compilation.

Runner-up: Sustainable Tools for Precarious Times: Performance Actions in the Americas. Eds. Natalie Alvarez, Claudette Lauzon, and Keren Zaiontz. Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.

Sustainable Tools for Precarious Times: Performing Actions in the Americas, edited by Natalie Alvarez, Claudette Lauzon, and Keren Zaiontz, begins in the immediate moment: the protests, rallies, and social media-led activism that followed the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Acknowledging the “instability and precarity” of the times, but also that of the position activists, scholars, and artists find themselves in as they redirect their work to increasingly global social and economic movements, this collection, as its editors indicate, “investigat[es] work in the Americas that meets the shifting demands of activism through the creation of art activist tools, sustainable spaces, and adaptable tactics that exceed the space-time of the action itself.” Further, by juxtaposing actions in Canada with those throughout the Americas, Sustainable Tools for Precarious Times makes evident Canadian scholars’, artists’, and activists’ role in a broader hemispheric context. Stunning in its bringing together of scholarly essays, interviews, and artistic provocations, this collection aligns form with content, providing not only an analytic overview of the contemporary and more recently contemporary moment through a theatre and performance studies methodology, but also a “how-to” for “keeping effective interventionist strategies in circulation.” Ultimately, Sustainable Tools for Precarious Times offers a strategy not only for how performance and scholarship reflects and reflects upon the current moment, but also might provide and hold space for an active agency within it.