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 2021.
Benjamin Looker, “Staging Diaspora, Dramatizing Activism: Fashioning a Progressive Filipino Canadian Theatre in Toronto, 1974–2001,” Journal of Canadian Studies/Revue d’études Canadiennes, 53.2 (Spring 2019).
Rebecca Burton, “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Canadian Theatre Here and Now,” alt.theatre, 15.2 (October 2019).
Looker’s article documents and interprets the history of the Carlos Bulosan Cultural Workshop, an amateur Filipino Canadian theatre and arts organization, from its founding until its renewal as the fully-professional Carlos Bulosan Theatre. Navigating deftly between the global and the local, Looker situates the group’s work within a worldwide diasporic opposition to the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines, as a response to issues of equity in work and social life faced by Filipino immigrants to Canada, and within “hidden genealogies of the North American Left amid a 1980s–1990s climate of conservative reaction” (454-5). The jury was particularly impressed by the use of documentary sources to put the CBCW into these wider contexts, while also paying close attention to the wide variety of its theatrical production activities, which ranged across overtly agit-prop mixtures of sketches and vignettes, socially-engaged pieces developed with and performed by domestic workers exploring their lives in Canada, and fully-scripted dramas and musicals in both English and Filipino languages. Looker brings the under-documented work of this significant group into focus, while also acknowledging the CBCW’s complicated relationship to notions of “multiculturalism” and “diversity,” as both the plays it performed and its treatment by funding bodies often revealed how “Canadian multiculturalist discourse occluded from view the racialized hierarchies of privilege and disadvantage that shaped Filipino experiences in Toronto” (453). “Staging Diaspora, Dramatizing Activism” richly merits this year’s Richard Plant award for the breadth and depth of its examination of a particular company and its place in the history of theatre in Canada, and for its potential to point towards future work on theatre and performance of the broader North American Filipino diaspora.
Burton’s article eloquently casts a distressing light on the inequitable practices that are endemic to theatre everywhere in Canada and that have been in place, unchanged, for many years. In her choice of Playwrights Guild of Canada (PGC) and its Women’s Caucus (WC) for a cogent and detailed case study, she reveals the close to insurmountable obstacles encountered by those who have long been concerned about the problem of ongoing inequity and have been working vigorously to effect real change. Making effective use of statistics and graphs, and employing an accessible writing style, we strongly believe this article would complement many university classes, not only because it clearly indicates that plays by women are minoritized, and recognizes that even greater inequities are endured by racialized women, women who identify with disability and queer people, but because it tackles the complex issue of advocacy: why don’t great initiatives always work? What are the barriers and how can these be overcome? This article prompts discussion regarding advocacy, action, visibility, representation, entrenched biases, working with limited resources, and navigating differing perspectives.
2020 Plant Prize Jury: Heather Fitzsimmons Frey, Justin Blum, Louise Forsyth