THE GINA WILKINSON PRIZE
“Collaboration is all. I come from a background of dance and visual art and in my work with designers, my desire is to ignite the fire of confluent imaginations. Out of that union must come the space for the ultimate alchemy – the actors’ process. I’m there to safeguard story, yes, but beyond that, to help the artists, and therefore myself, defeat the limitations of fear.”
– Gina Wilkinson
GINA WILKINSON was a prolific actor/playwright and a stage director in constant demand. Her sudden passing was a great loss to her family, friends, and the theatre communities who cherished her joy, energy, and great lust for life. In memory of Gina’s talent and in celebration of her life, the Gina Wilkinson Prize was established in 2011. The prize fund has been built through the generous donations of many friends and colleagues from theatre communities across the country.
A huge thank you to THE KINGFISHER FOUNDATION & DEBBIE GRAY and to all of our supporters who generously gave to the 10th Year Anniversary Fundraising Campaign! Our cherished donors are listed HERE.
We are very grateful for two substantial gifts that were made to the the fund. The first was in 2014 by the beneficiaries of the ESTATE of ELSIE V. ADAMSON, a long-time friend and client of Martin Wilkinson, Gina Wilkinson’s brother. The second was in 2021/22 from THE KINGFISHER FOUNDATION.
GINA’S PRIZE 2022
Fay lives on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples–Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.
Fay is a community-engaged director, writer, dramaturg, innovator, producer and educator. They are the Artistic Director of the frank theatre company and the founder/Artistic Director of Aphotic Theatre.
She has over 17 years of experience in text-based and devised work deeply rooted in inter-cultural and collaborative approaches. Fay’s work often examines questions of race, gender, sexuality, culture and language through an intersectional lens in order to shift meanings and de-construct paradigms rooted in our society. Fay’s work celebrates empathy and blurs the line between politics and intimate personal stories.
Fay’s work has been presented at PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, SummerWorks Festival, Queer Arts Festival, the CULTCH and Firehall Arts Centre. Her readings and experimental work have been presented at various conferences and artist-run galleries in Spain, Berlin and Paris. Their co-creation project Be-Longing was part of the 2021 New York international Film Festival, NICE International Film Festival and Madrid International Film Festival.
Her most recent credits include: directing I Cannot Lie to the Stars that Made me(the frank theatre), Directing Art Connects documentary film (Aphotic Theatre), co-creating Be-Longing (the frank theatre), co-directing Trans Script Part I: The Women (the frank theatre and Zee Theatre at Firehall Arts Centre), directing She Mami Wata & the Pussy WitchHunt (the frank theatre at PuSh Festival 2020), co-directing Straight White Men (ITSAZOO productions at Gateway Theatre). Fay holds an MFA from Simon Fraser University. Currently, Fay was selected for the Artistic Leadership Residency at the National Theatre School of Canada in 2020.
As an artistic leader and a practitioner, Fay has deep and involved relationships—both creative and organizational—with a wide spectrum of artists across generations and stylistic practices. As an educator and facilitator, their philosophy and pedagogy are rooted in anti-racism and anti-oppression.
“I am humbled and honoured by this recognition, as I stand among many inspiring and resilient women. They include the company of my predecessors, those who have come before me and those who walk beside me. They have given me the courage and strength to keep going regardless of how lonely and challenging the path has been. I have been seen through the gaze of these women: my mother who left her country and her identity so that my sister and I could dream; my aunt, an actor in Iran who continued to fight for her voice and who inspired me to be a theatre artist when I was a child. Women like my mentors Judith Hogan and Brenda Leadlay, and my colleagues d’bi young Anitafrika and Nadia Ross who have held me and inspired me along the way through their art, their intelligence, their poetry, their activism and their passion. Thank you for believing in my work.
My life’s work has been the celebration of intersectional storytelling and the embracing of transculturalism. This Prize is a wonderful affirmation of the work that I have been doing for nearly two decades, in particular creating new models and methodologies rooted in equity and inclusion, highlighting and amplifying the voices of female, trans, non-binary, LGBTQ2+ and BIPOC communities. To be seen and to be recognized is a rare and beautiful feeling. I sincerely thank every member of the committee for this prize, and I extend my gratitude to Gina Wilkinson for making this possible.”
NINA LEE AQUINO
T’karonto, covered by Treaty 13, under the Dish with One Spoon Wumpum Belt Covenant.
With a string of firsts in Asian Canadian theatre, Nina Lee Aquino was the founding Artistic Director of fu-GEN Asian Canadian theatre company, organized the first Asian Canadian theatre conference, edited the first (2-volume) Asian Canadian play anthology, and co-edited the first (award-winning) book on Asian Canadian theatre.
She became Artistic Director of Cahoots Theatre, currently holds the same position at Factory Theatre and is the incoming Artistic Director of the National Arts Centre English Theatre. Nina is also serves as the President of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres.
She has directed at theatres across the country and has won the Ken McDougall Award, the John Hirsch Prize, the Toronto Theatre Critics Awards for Best Director, and three Dora Awards for Outstanding Direction.
Nina co-wrote Miss Orient(ed) and her monologues have been published in Beyond the Pale and She Speaks (Playwrights Canada Press).
Nina has taught and directed at educational institutions in the city and was recently appointed Adjunct Professor at York University’s Department of Theatre. She is the 2019 winner of the Toronto Arts Foundation’s Margo Bindhart and Rita Davies Cultural Leadership Award.
“Being a finalist for the Gina Wilkinson Prize is like being given a beautiful compass, making the navigation of my artistic terrain a little sweeter. The award is not only a chance to look up from the road, stop to rest and take stock of how far I’ve come, it also gives me an opportunity to celebrate all the steps so far and the cuts and bruises from the falls along the way. To me, this prize means keep going.”
Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg MB
Hazel Venzon is a director whose practice is influenced by relational-art aesthetics and community engaged practices as a vehicle to conduct immersive, intercultural experiences within live theatre and performance.
A multi-faceted director, Venzon’s diverse experience working as a theatre artist has greatly influenced her current directorial practice. Early on, she found that conventional plays did not accurately represent the multicultural world she occupied. Since, Venzon has created opportunities to collaborate with independent companies who bend the rules of character and whose work releases the shackles of identity. She has pursued directing, writing and producing new works with iconic indie companies such as Theatre Replacement, The Chop, Urban Crawl, Boca Del Lupo, Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre and Mammalian Diving Reflex.
Independently, for the past dozen years, her focus has been on directing Filipino-Canadian centred stories. Venzon co-founded U N I Together Productions (2016) which supports the evolution of Filipino storytellers across the country through producing, direction, dramaturgy, mentorship and consultation – bringing new ways to direct and stage narratives that celebrate audiences, inspiring connection.
“I’m meeting Gina for the first time through this amazing honour as a shortlisted finalist for the 2022 GW Prize. Grateful for Gina’s passion in theatre and live art – I want to share this recognition with my fellows who, too, tirelessly give towards the change in how live art is made.”
Past PRIZE Recipients
Canadian actress, playwright and stage director.
Gina Clare Wilkinson was born on March 10, 1960, in Victoria, B.C. to visual artist, Jack Wilkinson, and ballet teacher, Marie Wilkinson. Gina graduated from the National Theatre School in Montreal and spent the first 20 years of her career as an actor working in theatres across Canada.
Her innate understanding of storytelling in the theatre was an invaluable asset when working on new plays and made her transition from actor to director a natural one.
Gina’s incredible ability to communicate with everyone involved in the making of a play – actors, designers, technicians – made her a successful director and theatre collaborator. A painter and visual artist all her life, her productions were visually exciting.
Her dedication, imagination, humour and unique visual sensibility were some of Gina’s many strengths but it was her understanding and compassion for all things human – both the beautiful and the ugly – that made her a true artist.
Gina believed in the necessity of fun in the rehearsal hall, on and off stage, and in all aspects of one’s life.
THE SUBMISSION PROCESS
Theatre artists from underrepresented genders which includes cis women, trans women, and non-binary folks who have acquired foundational training (from a training program or through experience) and have worked for at least 2 years are eligible for Gina’s Prize. Artists must also be Canadian citizens or have permanent resident status, as defined by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada or as a self-identifying Indigenous artist.
Gina’s Prize is awarded annually, offering financial support to an inspirational theatre artist with a demonstrated body of work and who is recognized by their community (-ies) for their practice, leadership and dedication to their craft.
A prize of $10,000 will be awarded to the winning artist.
A prize of $2,500 will be awarded to each of two shortlisted artists.
Past nominated artists may re-apply.
- A nomination letter from one artistic collaborator, (with a maximum of one additional support letter if desired), who can speak to the nominee’s artistic practice, values, and the ways in which they create space and care for other artists.
- In the spirit of Gina’s interdisciplinary artistry (dancer, visual artist, actor, director, playwright) nominated artists may submit:
- a written document or
- one of the following to a maximum of 5 minutes: video vignette, photos, mixed media, movement piece or other, to share with us…
Tell us about your work/rehearsal space:
- How is your artistic practice/leadership creating new models of working and storytelling?
- How do your values inform your practice/leadership and how does your work embody them?
- How does your practice/leadership serve your community(-ies)
- What is your vision for the future of theatre art?
- What is your hope for future generations of theatre artists?
- The nominated artist’s headshot and CV
Nominators please email all materials to: email@example.com
DEADLINE for 2023 TBA
Nominators please submit all materials to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Submissions will be reviewed by the Gina Wilkinson Prize Committee: Micheline Chevrier, Bonnie Green, Krista Jackson, Lindsay Lachance, Kimberley Rampersad, Tom Rooney, and Jovanni Sy.
Committee co-leaders Krista Jackson & Kimberley Rampersad are available to answer any questions about the submission process at:
Bruce Bennett, Executive Director
Ontario Arts Foundation
416-969-7413 | email@example.com
Gina’s Prize honours artists who work across Turtle Island on both treaty and unceded territories. Through this prize, we look to acknowledge and amplify their relationship to the land they live on and the communities they serve.