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

Honouring a respected editor and champion of the Association, 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. For the 2023 award, collections of plays published in 2021 or 2022 will be considered.

Reconnaissant un éditeur respecté et parrain de l’Association, 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. Pour le prix de 2023, les ouvrages collectifs publiés en 2021 ou 2022 étaient admissibles.

2023 Committee: Heather Davis-Fisch (chair), Nikki Cesare Schotzko, Jenn Cole, Heather Fitzsimmons Frey, Kim McLeod, Dennis Gupa

2023 Winners

Julie Salverson, ed. When Words Sing: Seven Canadian Libretti. PCP, 2021.

When Words Sing, Seven Canadian Libretti, edited by Julie Salverson and published by Playwrights Canada Press in 2021, is the first recipient of the award. Salverson’s anthology includes a selection of seven contemporary Canadian chamber opera libretti, each accompanied by illustrations, interviews, and short essays by librettists, directors, designers, dramaturges, and composers that bring the texts to life, allowing readers to imagine them in performance. The range of libretti included is impressive and speaks to the range of a genre of performance that is under-examined in Canadian theatre discourse. The committee noted the thematic breadth and the difficult issues and themes raised by the libretti and specifically that the inclusion of Marie Clement’s Missing provides space to think on how we can decolonize Western opera not just as a form but as a method of social pedagogy to redress historical violence.

The introductions to the text are impressive and contextualize the scope of the book and the rationale behind the collection beautifully. Canadian soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan’s foreword grounds the collection in embodied practice. Salverson’s preface provides a spare and evocative account of her journey toward chamber opera and the book project. Readers coming to the text with little knowledge of the form are provided with Michael and Linda Hutcheon’s highly informative introduction to the genre, situating its critical history and conventions, and identifying the challenges faced by librettists.

When Words Sing beautifully addresses the challenge of imagining orality and music through words, demonstrating how sound and soundscapes can be represented textually. The book is organized in a way that will make it a pleasure to teach and provides an accessible entry point for those new to its field. The committee found Salverson’s work to be truly opulent and a delight to read.

Jessica Watkin, ed. Interdependent Magic: Disability Performance in Canada. PCP 2022.

The second recipient of the O’Neill award is Jessica Watkin’s Interdependent Magic: Disability Performance in Canada. Watkin’s anthology provides a compendium of voices, representing many different communities through its carefully curated four scripts, introductory essays, and conversations with artists. The anthology centres experiences of Disability and Disability communities throughout, and serves as an object lesson in what a Disability-centred collection can be and do. At the same time, the committee noted that Interdependent Magic’s accessibility for readers without lived experiences of disability provides powerful space for solidarity and understanding to emerge.

Watkin’s editorial voice is warm, invitational, and urgent. In her introduction to the volume, she powerfully answers the question of why this collection is so timely, important, and relevant. The introduction is followed by Watkin’s essay “Answering a Few Introductory Questions About Disability…”, which functions as a primer on terminology and contexts for understanding the collection’s texts and grounds Disability rights and performance firmly in contexts of social justice and community. The committee expects that this essay is such a meaningful contribution to Canadian theatre studies that it will be taught as a stand-alone text across university classrooms. The four scripts and the artist conversation included in the anthology are diverse, in terms of the lived experiences, questions, and themes they address. They also, through their content and through their editorial framing, demonstrate the nuances of spectatorship, accessible and inclusive creative processes, and intersectionality that arise in the texts and through performance.

In Interdependent Magic, magic is rendered through Jessica Watkin’s indomitable leadership in gathering a set of intrepid Disabled artists to ritualize change. In this anthology, Watkin forges ahead with possibilities of integrating Disability performance in the Canadian theatre landscape.


Past Winners


BOOK : Laine Halpern Zisman, Women and Popular Culture in Canada, Canadian Scholars, 2020
Honourable Mention: Yana Meerzon, David Dean et Daniel McNeil, Migration and Stereotypes in Performance and Culture, Palgrave Macmillan, 2020.

JOURNAL : Canadian Theatre Review 182 (Spring 2020): Extractivism and Performance. Edited by Kimberly Richards and Heather Davis-Fisch.
Honourable Mention: Performance Matters Vol. 7 No. 1-2 (2021): Performing (in) Place: Moving on/with the Land. Edited by Jenn Cole and Melissa Poll.

2021 - Boca del Lupo, an anthology of Plays2Perform@Home

Honourable Mention: Lighting the Way: an anthology of short plays about the climate crisis, by Chantal Bilodeau and Thomas Peterson

2020 - Peter Dickinson, C.E. Gatchalian, Kathleen Oliver, and Dalbir Singh. Q2Q: Queer Canadian Theatre and Performance. Playwrights Canada Press, June 2018.

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

2019 - Indian Act, ed. Donna-Michelle St. Bernard (Playwrights Canada Press, 2018).

Honourable Mentions:
Past Lives: Performing Canada’s Histories, ed. Heather Davis-Fisch (Playwrights Canada Press, 2017)
Queer / Play, ed. Moynan King (Playwrights Canada Press, 2017).

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

Honourable 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.

Honourable 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.

Honourable 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.

Honourable Mentions:
Roberta Barker and Kim Solga, eds. New Canadian Realisms: New Essays on Canadian Theatre. Toronto: Playwrights Canada, 2012.
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.

Honourable Mentions:
Kamal Al-Solaylee, ed. Tonight at the Tarragon: A Critic's Anthology. Toronto: Playwrights Canada, 2011.
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.

Honourable Mentions:
André Bourassa, ed. La Trilogie inachevée. Montreal: L’instant scene, 2010.
Cynthia Zimmerman, ed. Reading Carol Bolt.. Toronto: Playwrights Canada, 2010.