OAF News

Fay Nass Awarded 2022 Gina Wilkinson Prize

Toronto  – March 10, 2022 – The Gina Wilkinson Prize Committee is pleased to announce that Fay Nass is the recipient of the 11th annual Gina Wilkinson Prize. Gina's Prize recognizes woman-identifying theatre artists who, at any stage of their practice, place community and new creation models at the heart of their artistic leadership.

Award Recipient
Fay Nass 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. 

Fay 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.

Artist Statement
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 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.

Hazel Venzon Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg MB

Hazel 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 mulit-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.

Nominations and Selection Committee
The 11 nominations from across the country spoke to an incredibly diverse, dynamic and passionate group of artistic leaders who are serving their communities. They were inspiring, original and dedicated to creating positive spaces centered around care and innovative practice.

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, Krista Jackson, Lindsay Lachance, Kimberley Rampersad, Tom Rooney and Jovanni Sy) extends its heartfelt thanks to all those supporters. Through their incredible generosity, the spirit of Gina lives on.

About the Prize

Gina's Prize honours a woman-identifying theatre artist/leader who is exploring new models of storytelling in the diverse theatre communities in what is now known as Canada. The Prize pays tribute to Gina Wilkinson, who passed away in 2010, and whose dedication, vision and indomitable spirit imbued her work and her life.

Gina’s interdisciplinary artistry as a dancer, visual artist, actor, playwright and director established herself as a daring, strong, inventive leader and collaborator in the Canadian theatre. She believed in the necessity of fun in the rehearsal hall, on and off stage, and in all aspects of one’s life. In the spirit of Gina's appetite for life, the prize money is a gift to be used in any way the recipient chooses. The award recipient receives a $10,000 prize, and $2,500 is awarded to each of the finalists. 

A huge thank you to The Kingfisher Foundation, Debbie Gray and all who generously donated to our 10th Anniversary Fundraising Campaign. We are so grateful for your support!

To contribute a gift to Gina's Prize: https://www.oafdn.ca/make-a-donation.

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.   


For more information about the award:
Krista Jackson & Kimberley Rampersad, Committee Co-Leaders

For more information about the Ontario Arts Foundation:

Bruce Bennett, Executive Director
Ontario Arts Foundation 
416-969-7413 | bbennett@oafdn.ca

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