Award ceremony celebrates locally produced theatre

Photo: Courtesy of Andrew Alexander

You’ve heard of the Tony Awards, and maybe even the Dora Mavor Moore Awards, but it would be a mistake to forget about Ottawa’s very own celebration of professional theatre.

The evening of Sept. 27 marks the eighth annual Prix Rideau Awards (PRA). Founded in 2006, its aim is to bring together local actors, directors, producers, and playwrights to celebrate the National Capital Region’s vibrant theatre community.

The PRA recognizes all aspects of local theatre, from writing to managing and design, in both national languages. They are also the only bilingual theatre awards in Canada.

Kyle Ahluwalia, the president of PRA, and a University of Ottawa alumnus and part-time professor in the theatre department, says the tradition began “as a way to celebrate professional theatre in Ottawa.”

And the U of O has a lot to celebrate this year.

U of O alumni and professors dominate almost every category, and exclusively fill the “Nouvelle création de l’année,” “Mise en scène de l’année,” “Interprétation féminine de l’année,” and “Prix ‘Artiste en émergence’” categories.

With over 20 alumni and professors nominated, U of O nominees are sure to bring home at least a few awards. One of these nominees is Bronwyn Steinberg, the founder of the new Tactics Theatre Group and a M.F.A. theatre graduate from the U of O.

“It’s great to see the Rideau Awards bringing the theatre community together, whether emerging or established artists,” says Steinberg. This year her play Corpus, which she directed and produced, is nominated for “New Outstanding Work.”

Corpus is a Holocaust-themed play that revolves around a genocide scholar who, during her research, discovers a secret relationship between the wife of a Nazi officer and a Polish-Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz. The story alternates between modern-day Berlin, Canada, and Auschwitz during war-time.

Throughout Steinberg’s time in the Ottawa theatre community, she’s been involved in 12 PRA-nominated works and received three nominations herself.

“I’m happy to see that the PRA really does consider work by younger and emerging artists,” said Steinberg. “Our theatre community is so welcoming and supportive, and that’s what you see at the Rideau Awards—an outpour of support for the whole community.”

The theme for this year’s awards is “La Vie en Rose,” which Ahluwalia says “was chosen to represent the passion displayed in theatre.”

Many of the PRA’s past winners, such as Nancy Kenny of Roller Derby Saved My Soul fame, have gone on to be nationally recognized. Ahluwalia says that this year’s awards boast a diverse group of nominees, from larger theatre companies like the Great Canadian Theatre Company to smaller ones like Steinberg’s Tactics, that represents the variety in Ottawa’s theatre community.

“That range and diversity speaks of the wealth of talent in Ottawa, and that’s true both in English and French.”

The evening of the awards will be held at the Maison du Citoyen in Gatineau. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.prixrideauawards.ca for $30 or at the door for $35.