Ann Saddlemyer Award/ Le prix Ann Saddlemyer

Named in honour of the association’s co-founder, the Ann Saddlemyer Award goes to the best book published in English or French in a given year. The winning book should normally be broadly on a Canadian topic, and should constitute a substantial contribution to Canadian Theatre and Performance Studies.

Le prix Ann Saddlemyer récompense chaque année le meilleur livre de langue anglaise ou française qui a été publié l’année précédente. Le livre gagnant devrait normalement porter largement sur un sujet canadien et devrait constituer une contribution substantielle aux études canadiennes sur le théâtre et la performance.

Deadline: January 2021.

2020 Winners (jointly awarded):

Julie Burrelle, Encounters on Contested Lands: Indigenous Performances of Sovereignty and Nationhood in Québec. Northwestern University Press, 2019.


Helene Vosters, Unbecoming Nationalism: From Commemoration to Redress in Canada. University of Manitoba Press, 2019.


The committee for the Ann Saddlemyer Award/Le prix Ann Saddlemyer acknowledges that the three of us undertook our work on the traditional territories of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples, on the unceded Coast Salish Territory of the  W̱SÁNEĆ, Lkwungen, Wyomilth peoples and on Treaty 4 territory, the traditional lands of the nêhiyawak, Anihšināpēk, Dakota, Nakoda, Lakota, and the homeland of the Métis/Michif Nation.  We are grateful for the opportunity to continue to work on these diverse lands and are committed to working towards a future of decolonization, conciliation and collaboration.

The committee also wishes to acknowledge that from the time our committee was formed until we reached our decision, the world that we thought we all knew changed dramatically and irrevocably.  While none of us are sure what this new world looks like we have, over the past four months, learned that going back to the status quo is impossible. In many ways this sense of being thrown into an unknown future guided the committee and our decision.

The committee made our decision based on the criteria listed for the award as a work that makes an original contribution by offering new directions in Canadian Theatre and Performance. The works selected are timely in their revolutionary approach to addressing serious gaps, erasures and inequities in the official historical representations of nation that glorify white settler, masculine, and military mythologies while neglecting to address the genocidal treatment of the Indigenous peoples and cultures that accompanied them. The committee is pleased to honour two timely and prescient books by awarding the Ann Saddlemyer Award/Le prix Ann Saddlemyer to Encounters on Contested Lands authored by Julie Burelle and Unbecoming Nationalism authored by Helene Vosters.  Using radically different methodologies and subject matters, both books interrogate and critique the privileged position of the white settler colonist while simultaneously deconstructing national narratives that are familiar to many of us.  Importantly, both authors frame their discussions through performance, provide meaning to the silences and gaps in traditional writings around site(s) of performance, and demonstrate that performance is central to any notion of moving forward.

Encounters on Contested Lands offers a timely, if overdue, critique of the exploitation and appropriation of Indigenous representation and performance by the French Québécois de souche. Burelle’s methodical approach and critical examination of this complex reimagining of a nation’s performed identity undermines recent attempts by the Quebec nation to perform itself though a lens of appropriated Indigeneity and Métis identity(ies). Tracing important historical developments in Quebec theatre and cinema, she finds striking examples of Indigenous art and performance that speak back to the systemic violence by performing the “endurance” that has kept them alive.  In her analysis, Burelle undermines the core of historic francophone performances of nation state with her highly original application of interdisciplinary theories including, Brown’s theory of “wounded attachments.”  The committee made note of Burelle’s careful and insightful analysis of Nadia Myre’s Indian Act and La Marche Amun as endurance performances that challenge contemporary theories and languages embedded in durational performance.  Burelle grounds the last part of the book in a trans-Indigenous methodology, citing a range of Indigenous performative strategies that defy and write-back against the violence exhibited in the previous case studies but also the totality of the violence instituted and perpetuated by settler colonialism.

Coincidentally, the heart of Unbecoming Nationalism is also endurance performance or rather performances, as Vosters interweaves self-reflective meditations and journal entries documenting her own year-long performance, Impact Afghanistan War, within her critique of Canada’s performed nationalisms. In this complex yet deeply personal book Vosters employs a highly original methodology, using a variety of self-directed cultural performance pieces to open a critical enquiry which challenges and refutes recent performances of Canada as nation state. Within this book, performance is writ large and involves an uncomfortable re-thinking and a fierce critique of various institutions, museums and events that perform an established nationalism.  Within this passionate discussion, Vosters invites her audiences to unravel the whitewashing these performed nationalisms try to conceal. Demonstrating how the Harper government’s re-performing of Canada’s military past and the Trudeau government’s performing and performance of Canada 150 while both governments  simultaneously ignored the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action situates Unbecoming Nationalism as an urgent and necessary addition to our understanding how Canada is performed. Vosters book challenges the status quo, highlights contemporary performances and sites of performance that offer a counter-narrative to the official performed narrative, furthers recent explorations of architecture as performance, but most importantly challenges, no, insists, that we all do better.

Both books highlight contemporary Indigenous practices that reject traditional settler narratives or the appropriation of Indigenous narratives and traditional notions of performance that colonists/settlers brought with them and instead champion and foreground Indigenous performance narratives, sites of performance, and performance styles. In these and other ways Encounters on Contested Lands and Unbecoming Nationalism are in conversation with each other.  For many, the discussion will be challenging and uncomfortable, but both books act as guides and provide meaningful entry points to begin and continue these welcomed dialogues.

2020 Committee: Wes D Pearce, Rosalind Kerr, Cam Culham

Past Winners

2019 - Natalie Alvarez, Immersions in Cultural Difference: Tourism, War, Performance (U of Michigan Press, 2018).

2018 - Ric Knowles, Performing the Intercultural City (U of Michigan Press, 2017).

2018 (Honourable Mention) - Barry Freeman, Staging Strangers: Theatre and Global Ethics (McGill-Queen’s UP, 2017).

2017Rick Cousins. Spike Milligan’s Accordion: The Distortion of Time and Space in The Goon Show. Leiden, Boston: Brill Rodopi, 2016.

2016Nicole Nolette, Jouer la traduction : théâtre et hétérolinguisme au Canada francophone. U of Ottawa Press, 2015.

2015 - Laura Levin, Performing Ground: Space, Camouflage, and the Art of Blending In. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

2014 - R. Darren Gobert, The Mind-Body Stage: Passion and Interaction in the Cartesian Theater. Stanford UP, 2013.

2014 (Honourable Mention) - Virginie Magnat, Growtowski, Women and Contemporary Performance: Meetings with Remarkable Women. New York: Routledge, 2014.

2013 - Heather Davis-Fisch, Loss and Cultural Remains in Performance: The Ghosts of the Franklin Expedition. New York: Palgrave 2012.

2013 - Jenn Stephenson, Performing Autobiography: Contemporary Canadian Drama. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013.

2013 (Honourable Mention) - Kirsty Johnston, Stage Turns: Canadian Disability Theatre. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2012.

2012 - Alan Filewod, Committing Theatre: Theatre Radicalism and Political Intervention in Canada. Toronto: Between the Lines, 2011.

2011 - Erin Hurley, National Performance: Representing Quebec from Expo 67 to Celine Dion. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010.

2011 - Magdalena Kazubowski-Houston, Staging Strife: Lessons from Performing Ethnography with Polish Roma Women. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009.

2010 - Candida Rifkind, Comrades and Critics: Women, Literature & The Left in 1930s Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009.

2009 - Sherrill Grace, Making Theatre: A Life of Sharon Pollock. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2008.

2008 - Michael McKinnie, City Stages: Theatre and Urban Space in a Global City. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007.

2007 - Louise Ladouceur, Making The Scene: La traduction du théâtre d’une langue officielle à l’autre au Canada. (Québec: Editions Nota bene, 2005)

2005 - Kym Bird, Redressing the Past: The Politics of Early English-Canadian Women’s Drama, 1880-1920. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005.

2005 (Honourable Mention) - Ric Knowles Reading the Material Theatre Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2004.

2003 - Alan Filewod, Performing Canada: The Nation Enacted in the Imagined Theatre. Textual Studies in Canada Monograph Series: Critical Performance/s in Canada, 2002.

2003 (Honourable Mention) - Diana Brydon & Irena R. Makaryk eds. Shakespeare in Canada: A World Elsewhere? Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002.

2001 - Ric Knowles, The Theatre of Form and the Production of Meaning: Canadian Dramaturgies. Toronto: ECW Press, 1999.

1999 - Leonard E. Doucette, The Drama of Our Past: Major Plays from Nineteenth-Century Quebec. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997.

1997 - Paula Sperdakos, Dora Mavor Moore: A Pioneer of Canadian Theatre. Toronto: ECW Press, 1995.

1995 - Gilbert David et Pierre Lavoie, eds. Le Monde de Michel Tremblay: Des Belles-soeurs à Marcel poursuivi par les chiens. Montréal: Lansman, 1993.

1994 - Rémi Tourangeau, Fêtes et spectacles du Québec: Région du Saguenay-Lac- Saint-Jean. Québec: Nuit Blanche, 1993;

1993 - Diane Bessai, The Canadian Dramatist volume 2: Playwrights of Collective Creation. Toronto: Simon & Pierre, 1992.

1992 - Denis Johnston, Up the Mainstream. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990.

1991 - Anni Brisset, Sociocritique de la traduction: Théâtre et altérité au Québec (1968- 1988). Longueuil: Préambule, 1990.

1990 - Chantal Hébert, Le burlesque québécois et américain. Textes inédits. Québec: Presses de l’Université Laval, 1989.

1989 - Bronwyn Drainie, Living the Part: John Drainie and the Dilemma of Canadian Stardom. Toronto: Macmillan, 1988

1989 - Jean-Luc Bastien & Pierre MacDuff, eds. La Nouvelle Compagnie théâtrale. En scène depuis 25 ans. Montréal: VLB, 1988.