Sponsored by the Canada Council for the Arts, the prizes honor French and English-language writing and are among the country's top writing honors.
Published by Playwrights Canada Press and first produced in Toronto in spring 2005, Half Life was honored by the jury with these words: "This profoundly moving love story portrays the relationship between two nursing-home residents in a way that is unique, enlightened and virtually flawless. A play about remembering, about forgetting and ultimately about hope, Half Life holds up a mirror to all of us, who will one day face old age. A theatrical masterpiece that is an important addition to the Canadian canon."
John Mighton has won the Dora, Chalmers and Governor General’s Awards for his plays, which include The Little Years, Body and Soul, Scientific Americans, Possible Worlds and A Short History of Night. The latter two plays won the GG in 1992 and Possible Worlds was made into a feature film by Robert Lepage. Mighton has a Ph.D. in mathematics (University of Toronto) and has lectured in philosophy at McMaster. In 1998, he developed JUMP, a program for school children experiencing difficulty in math; its success inspired his best-selling book "The Myth of Ability." In October 2005 he won the $100,000 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre for his body of work. John Mighton lives in Toronto.
Geneviève Billette, of Montreal, won the Governor's General Drama prize (French language) for Le Pays des genoux. The jury observed, "Brilliantly avoiding all of the clichés, this text full of love and hope tackles the taboos of contemporary society with a natural grace that sheds new light on old ideas. Using the metaphor of a decrepit theatre that falls into ruin so that dazzling new words of truth can rise from the ashes, Billette creates a state of grace that imbues this play for young audiences with the qualities of a universal fable."
Billette was a finalist for the Governor General's Award in 2000 for Crime contre l’humanité, and the 2001 winner of the creativity award of the Fonds Gratien-Gélinas and the Louise-LaHaye bursary for Le Pays des genoux. Her play for young audiences, Le Pays des genoux, has been acclaimed in Quebec and in France, where it was presented with great success at the Festival Méli’Môme in Reims. A graduate of the Université de Montréal and the National Theatre School of Canada, this young playwright writes for radio as well as for the stage, and is the author of the radio play De la barbe à la queue, je suis délicieux. Geneviève Billette is a member of the board of the Centre d'essai des auteurs dramatiques. She lives in Montreal. *
In May 2005 Mighton won the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play for Half Life (with six nominations total).
Developed by Toronto's Necessary Angel through its new play development program, Half Life received its world premiere in a co-production with Tarragon Theatre in the spring 2005. One of the most critically acclaimed shows of 2004-05 season, the play enjoyed a sold-out run, creating considerable excitement and wowing critics and audiences alike.
Necessary Angel subsequently toured the production to some of the most prestigious theatre festivals in North America including Magnetic North (Ottawa), Théâtres d'Ailleurs in Quebec City, and Festival de théâtre des Amériques in Montreal, where it was regarded as one of the hits of the festival.
This fall Necessary Angel took Half Life on a one-month, two-city tour to Scotland, where it ran at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow, Oct. 12-22, 2005 and The Perth Theatre (Horsecross Arts Centre) Oct. 26-Nov. 5, 2005.