The first Gina Wilkinson Prize - honouring an emerging female director making the move to directing from another area of theatre - goes to Ann-Marie Kerr, a talented theatre artist based in Halifax, though we've seen plenty of her work here in Toronto.
The prize was set up to honour the spirit and talent of the late Wilkinson, an actor who turned to directing in the last years of her life.
Trained at École Jacque Lecoq, Kerr performed in a number of Theatre Smith Gilmour shows, among them Chekhov's Longs...In The Ravine and Ward 6. Since then she's branched into directing, helming 2b theatre's Invisible Atom, which toured internationally and played here several years ago at SummerWorks; the premiere of Daniel MacIvor's Confession for Mulgrave Road Theatre Company; and co-created and directed Zuppa Theatre's The Debacle, which was part of Nightwood Theatre's Groundswell Festival last fall.
In addition, she's taught at the National Theatre School and is the former head of Soulpepper's Youth Mentorship Program.
Kerr receives a $1,000 award.
The two other short-list nominees for the prize were Winnipeg's Krista Jackson and Toronto's Kelly Straughan; in all, 23 women directors were nominated from across the country.
I've admired the energy of Wilkinson and Kerr, both in their work and outside the theatre; for me, they shared a sense of fun and play that infused their stage creations and their lives.
I imagine that Gina is applauding long and hard.