Gascon-Thomas Award 2008
Monique Mercure and Sharon Pollock:
Recipients of the 2008 Gascon-Thomas Award
Montreal. October 16, 2008 - The National Theatre School of Canada (NTS) is proud to announce that this year's Gascon-Thomas Award will be distinguished upon playwright, actor and director Sharon Pollock and actress, former Artistic Director and General Director of the School and NTS Governor Monique Mercure. The two will receive their awards at a special ceremony on Friday, October 24th at 1:00 p.m. in the Monument-National's Ludger-Duvernay Theatre.
The Gascon-Thomas Award recognizes exceptional achievement in theatre. Each year, two artists (one Anglophone and one Francophone) are singled out and honoured for their efforts to shape the world of theatre and for their status as role models to NTS students. Presided over by NTS governor Tom Peacocke, the awarding jury is comprised of several members of the School's Board of Governors, artistic directors Sherry Bie and Denise Guilbault, Director General Simon Brault, and two student representatives.
Born in Fredericton in 1936, Sharon Pollock studied at the University of New Brunswick but left the city before graduating in 1954. She returned to Fredericton in the early sixties with her five children and began to work at the Playhouse Theatre, doing various jobs including some acting. In 1966, she moved to Calgary where she toured with the Prairie Players and won a Dominion Drama Festival award for her performance in Ann Jellico's The Knack. Pollock then began to write plays in 1971 while pregnant with her sixth child. Her first work, A Compulsory Option, won the Alberta Playwriting Competition and subsequently went on to premiere the following year at the New Play Centre in Vancouver. Pollock continued to write, penning numerous works for both the stage and television including a large number of plays for young audiences. Her work has been produced by major and alternative theatres around the world and throughout Canada. Her most famous play, Blood Relations (1980) won The Governor General's Literary Award for Drama in 1981. Pollock's second GG win came in 1985 for Doc, and she was also shortlisted for the award in 1986 for Whiskey Six Cadenza. In 1987 she received the prestigious Canada Australia Literary Award for her body of work. Pollock has also received four honorary doctorates over the years and in 1999 was awarded the Harry and Martha Cohen award for her significant contribution to Calgary theatre. As a director, she has directed productions for Theatre New Brunswick, Theatre Calgary, Alberta Theatre Projects, Manitoba Theatre Centre, Theatre Junction, National Arts Centre, Neptune Theatre, and The Garry Theatre. She has also taught at the University of Alberta, led the playwrights' colony at the Banff Centre for the Arts (1977-80), and was playwright in residence at Alberta Theatre Projects (1977-79) and the National Arts Centre (1981-82). Pollock was Artistic Director at Theatre Calgary (1984) and Theatre New Brunswick (1988), and also served as Chair of the Advisory Arts Panel for the Canada Council. She was a member of the advisory committee for the NTS (1979-80), and is currently the theatre reviewer for CBC's Homestretch with the feature "Pollock on Plays."
One of Canada's most distinguished actresses, Monique Mercure's impressive career spans more than 40 years with more than 100 great stage roles and over 50 film credits to her name. Born in Montreal in 1930, Mercure obtained a BA in Music from Montréal's l'École Vincent-d'Indy, where she studied cello. Originally planning to pursue a career as a cellist, Mercure went on to Paris where she studied under the famous Jacques Lecoq and took dramatic art lessons at Théâtre National Populaire and l'École Dullin. Returning to Canada, she continued her studies in English, working for three years at the Montreal Drama Studio. She first appeared on-stage in 1959 in Aeschylus' Les Choéphores (The Libation Bearers), directed by Jean-Pierre Ronfard (TNM). Working in both French and English, Mercure went on to play major roles in work by Tennessee Williams, Genet, Beckett, Strindberg, Shakespeare and Michel Tremblay. She has also worked with some of the greatest directors including Robert Altman, André Brassard, François Girard and Yves Simoneau, and has starred in such classics as Claude Jutra's Mon oncle Antoine and Jean Beaudin's J.A. Martin photographe, which won her a Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival and at the Canadian Film Awards in 1977. Mercure was made an Officer of the Order of Canada for her contribution to the arts in 1977 and was promoted to Companion in 1993. That year she also received the Canadian Governor General's Award for Performing Arts, the Prix Denise-Pelletier, and the Prix Gascon-Roux. Mercure also has two Genie Awards, one for her supporting role in David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch (1992), the other for her role in Piers Haggard's Conquest (1999). In 1998 she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Toronto. Mercure was General Director of the National Theatre School from 1991-1997 and Artistic Director from 1997-2000. In 2006, she was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
Montreal glass blower and prized artist and artisan Annie Michaud (http://www.anniemichaud.com/) was approached to redesign the Gascon-Thomas Award after the passing of jeweller Gilbert Rhême in the late spring of 2008. Since 2000, the award had been his creation.
Annie Michaud has been practicing her art in Montreal since 1995. She has been referred to as a "Glass Act"; her luminous lemon-lime squeezer, mortar and pestle and salt container, among other designs, have been a hit since their creation. Her glassware is fanciful and her glass sculptures are evocative. She describes herself as passionate and fun-loving, is guided by the sacred fire (no pun intended) of her artistic imagination and travel is integral to her work.
Annie also creates customized objects for commercial and residential architecture, cinematographic productions, wedding gifts and other special events. Some of her clients have been Ferreira Café, Palais des congrès - Rayonnement international Award, the Montreal Convention Centre and L'Oréal, among many others.
Click here to read the speech of Monique Mercure. (in French)
Click here to read the speech of Sharon Pollock.