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2018: Tanja Jacobs

Toronto – March 10, 2018 – The Gina Wilkinson Prize Committee is pleased to announce that Tanja Jacobs of Toronto, Ontario is the recipient of the seventh annual Gina Wilkinson Prize for an Emerging Female Director.  This annual prize of $ 5,000 honours female theatre artists transitioning to directing.

Tanja Jacobs is an award winning actress and director. Most recently she directed Twelfth Night for the Canadian Stage Company’s annual Shakespeare in High Park. In 2016 she directed The Model Apartment for Harold Green Jewish Theatre. This spring she will co-direct, with Alistair Newton, Caryl Churchill’s highly original Love and Information at the Berkeley Street Theatre for Canadian Stage; she will direct the ferocious comedy La Bete for Soulpepper Theatre; and this coming summer Tanja will direct A Midsummer Night’s Dream in High Park for Canadian Stage. For her work as an actress in Toronto, Tanja has received eleven Dora nominations and three awards. This past summer Tanja completed her MFA in Stage Direction at York University in Collaboration with Canadian Stage.

“In making the transition from actress to director, a woman must find courage in the prospect of pleasing herself – and her own rigour – where she used to rely on the ripples of pleasing others to feel artistically whole. Gina Wilkinson’s radiant intelligence and inner fortitude helped her to navigate this as she made a legitimate place for herself as an important director in this country. The wonderful prize that is named for her is a hearty endorsement for the woman artist cultivating a personal vision. I am deeply honoured to have been chosen to receive this prize. I join a list of women of conviction and I am proud to be among them.”

Ms. Jacobs was selected from a short list that includes Cristina Cugliandro, (Montreal), Debbie Patterson, (Winnipeg) and Severn Thompson (Toronto).

Cristina Cugliandro is a Montreal based director and co-founder / artistic director of Odd Stumble Theatre’s Montreal branch, a company that supports the development of artists by collaborating on workshop productions, innovative site-responsive creations and gatherings, and socially engaged theatre practices. Her directing credits include In Search of Mrs. Pirandello (The Rialto Theatre 2015 / The Centaur Theatre’s Wildside Festival 2016), Elsewhere (The Rialto Theatre 2017), What Happened after Nora left her Husband (Imago Theatre 2017), Possible Worlds (Bishops’ University 2017). Cristina holds a master’s degree in Text and Performance from The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and Birkbeck University.

Debbie Patterson is a Winnipeg playwright, director and actor. Trained at the National Theatre School of Canada, she is a founding associate of Shakespeare in the Ruins (SIR), served as Theatre Ambassador for Winnipeg’s Cultural Capital year and as Artistic Associate at Prairie Theatre Exchange. Directing credits include Festen for [email protected]Midsummer Night’s DreamMacbeth and Taming of the Shrew for SIR, and a site-specific production of The Crackwalker for Sweet and Salty. In 2014 she was selected for the United Nations Platform for Action Committee’s annual Activist Award and was honoured with the Mayor’s Making a Mark Award in 2017. She is a proud advocate for disability arts through her work with her new company Sick + Twisted Theatre.

Most recently, Severn Thompson directed and co-created The Pigeon King for the Blyth Festival which will be remounted this spring. Other directing credits include a new musical production of Peter Pan for Bad Hats Theatre/Soulpepper (3 Dora Awards, including Outstanding Direction); Madam Mao (SummerWorks/Azure River), Beyond the Farm Show (Blyth Festival), and The Munsch Bunch (George Brown). As an actor, Severn has performed in theatres across the country and is an acting graduate of the National Theatre School as well as Stratford’s Birmingham Conservatory.

Severn is Associate Artistic Director at the Blyth Festival and is a current York University MFA candidate in Stage Direction in collaboration with Canadian Stage Theatre. Upcoming projects include directing Wing Night at the Boot for the Blyth Festival this summer.

The Committee received nominations from across the country and was thrilled by the calibre of the artists vying for the Prize. The nominations spoke to an incredibly diverse, intelligent and passionate group of artists who, as emerging directors, are clearly dedicated to creating not only a lively, rigorous and positive environment for theatre-making but also to providing audiences in their communities with theatre experiences of the highest order.

Gina’s Prize honours a Canadian female theatre artist who is transitioning from one theatre discipline (acting, stage managing, playwriting, administration, etc.) to that of directing. The Prize pays tribute to actor/playwright/director Gina Wilkinson, who passed away in 2010, and whose dedication, vision and indomitable spirit imbued her work and her life. An actor for over twenty years, Ms Wilkinson began turning her attention to both writing and directing and, in the last few years of her too-short life, established herself as a daring, strong, inventive director and collaborator in the Canadian theatre. In the spirit of Ms Wilkinson’s appetite for life, the Prize of $5,000 is a gift to be used in any way the recipient chooses.

The past recipients of Gina’s Prize are Ann-Marie Kerr of Halifax, Krista Jackson of Winnipeg, Christine Brubaker of Toronto, Valerie Planche of Calgary, Kelli Fox of Toronto, and Kimberley Rampersad of Winnipeg.

The Gina Wilkinson Prize was established through the generous support of Gina’s colleagues and admirers from across the country. The Committee (Micheline Chevrier, Bonnie Green, Eda Holmes, Krista Jackson, Jackie Maxwell, Tom Rooney and Bob White) extends its heartfelt thanks to all those supporters. Through their incredible generosity, the spirit of Gina lives on.

The Committee would also like to thank Alan Walker and the Ontario Arts Foundation for their administration of the Gina Wilkinson Prize. Anyone wishing to donate may do so at


Posted on

March 20, 2019