Creating a little drama

(Edmonton) Greg MacArthur, the playwright-in-residence at the University of Alberta’s Department of Drama, has been named as one of six finalists for Canada’s largest award in theatre, the $100,000 Siminovitch Prize.

Previously based in Montreal, MacArthur was appointed as the U of A’s new Lee Playwright-in-Residence in January 2011. Known for plays that explore themes of identity and escape, focusing on characters that exist on the fringes of society, his residency in the Department of Drama will culminate in a new play, with the work projected to premiere in the 2012–2013 U of A Studio Theatre season.

“Greg MacArthur exemplifies a new generation of Canadian playwrights,” said Kathleen Weiss, chair of the Department of Drama. “He is assured of his calling as a playwright and embraces his ‘Canadianness,’ writing about local, national or international events with equal ease. He is a writer with rare imagination, a vibrant sense of humour and a stunningly acute sense of character.”

Among MacArthur’s works are The Decameron or Things We Left Behind (2011), Tyland: The Toxic Bus Incident (2010) and the Jessie Richardson Award-nominated Recovery (2006). His critically acclaimed dark comedy Snowman (2003) will be staged in Vancouver this November by Rumble Productions.

“I’m thrilled to be nominated for this prestigious award,” says MacArthur. “It’s an honour, particularly to share this nomination with such a group of talented folk. The fact that this generous award exists at all is reason enough to celebrate.” The other nominees are Robert Chafe, Joan MacLeod, Larry Tremblay, Jasmine Dubé and Mansel Robinson. The annual Siminovitch Prize, created in 2001 in honour of philanthropist Lou Siminovitch and his late wife Elinore, alternates in a three-year cycle to celebrate theatre directors, playwrights and designers. For 2011, the award honours a playwright “who has made a significant contribution to the Canadian theatre scene in recent years.” The prize will be awarded in Toronto on Nov. 7.