Several Canadian playwrights walked home $25,000 richer Monday night (May 14).
It's a sight we might never see again. The Chalmers Awards as we know and love them have been discontinued.
"The era of high-priced ego awards is over," said arts patron Joan Chalmers at Monday's awards ceremony.
"Philanthropy must be both fluid and responsive, and above all it must be as creative as the artists we support," said Chalmers.
The new awards, to be named Chalmers Grants, will consist of smaller amounts and will go to a greater number of artists.
The details of how grant recipients will be chosen have yet to be worked out, but the Ontario Arts Council will continue to administer the awards, so the changes might not be radical after all.
Smiling playwrights Monday included: Florence Gibson (for Belle), Chris Earle (Radio :30), Michael Redhill (Building Jerusalem) and George F. Walker (Heaven).
Of the four, Earle's piece, about a radio pitch man whose life disintegrates during the taping of a seemingly innocuous ad, should age the best -- it's the perfect marriage of form and content. Redhill's fine work, easily the best millennium-themed play to emerge on a stage last year, relied as much on movement, music and Ross Manson's direction as on text.
Only Gibson's play -- about slavery in the American South -- disappoints. The dense script, lauded for its language, failed to hit emotional notes in its Factory Theatre premiere last year, and a couple of characters could have been excised. Obviously, Yanna McIntosh and Nigel Shaun Williams's fine performances helped gloss over any problems with the writing.
Winning in the Theatre for Young Audiences category are Sean Reycraft (for Pop Song) and Richard Lacroix, André Laliberté and Richard Morin (The Star Keeper/Le Porteur).
Other stage artists who will be adding "Chalmers Award winner" to their C.V.s include Soulpepper's Albert Schultz (for artistic direction), La La La Human Steps' Edouard Lock (choreography) and Tapestry New Opera Works' Claire Hopkinson (arts administration).