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Buddies launches Queer Emerging Artist Award

The Toronto theatre commemorates 35 years by looking forward

Buddies artistic director Brendan Healy wanted to “commemorate our [35-year] anniversary by doing something forward-looking.” Credit: Alejandro Santiago

As part of its 35th anniversary season, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre has announced it will establish an annual award recognizing the talents of young theatre artists. The Buddies Queer Emerging Artist Award will be granted to a rising star of Canada’s queer theatre scene. Xtra talked with artistic director Brendan Healy about the reasoning and the process behind the prize.

Why did you think it’s important to establish an award like this?

The idea came out of wanting to commemorate our anniversary by doing something forward-looking. Recognizing tomorrow’s leading queer artists seemed like the best way to do this. Buddies has always been a space for emerging artists to cut their teeth, and this award is an extension of this legacy.

The work of queer artists is sometimes overlooked because it doesn’t fit into the box of traditional theatre. Queer performance can be marginalized because of both its content and its form. What makes this award important is that it’s queer artists recognizing other queer artists.

The jury for the award is composed of yourself and the three previous artistic directors of Buddies [Sky Gilbert, Sarah Garton Stanley and David Oiye]. Why did you want to bring this group together?

I’m always looking for ways to connect what’s happening now at Buddies to the amazing work and people who’ve made this company what it is today. Involving the former ADs in a conversation around queer theatre and its future struck me as a fantastic way to do this.

There are some very different personalities and aesthetics among the four people who’ve held the top job at Buddies over the years. Do you expect it to be challenging to decide on a winner?

I hope so! If this didn’t inspire debate and conversation I’d be disappointed. Fortunately, there’s a lot of respect amongst us as a group, so I’m confident the process will be productive and invigorating. Most importantly, I believe the breadth of perspectives among us as a group will ensure a healthy selection process.

The deadline for applications is April 30, 2014.