The Governor' General Literacy Drama Winners

View all Award Winning Books for Adults book lists; This list was last updated on 10/8/2014
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The Governor General's Literary Awards – known affectionately as “the GGs” – were first awarded in 1936. The GGs were initiated by Governor General Lord Tweedsmuir (John Buchan), a prolific writer himself who published more than 100 works in his lifetime. Each year, the Governor General's Literary Awards honour the best in Canadian literature. As Canada's national literary awards, the GGs represent the rich diversity of Canadian literature. Some 1,600 books are submitted each year from English and French-language publishers representing authors, translators and illustrators from across Canada, in seven categories: Fiction, Poetry, Drama, 

For more book recommendations, please check out New York Times® Best Sellers, Children's Book Recommendations or the complete list of Featured Book Lists and Award Winners

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release date: Jan 17, 2015
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Showdown in the Big Quiet
Myth and government clash and collaborate in one of America's largest and most remote canyonlands
 
Owyhee County, Idaho, also known as the “Big Quiet,” is the largest and least inhabited area in the lower forty-eight states. Who has decided how to use it? From violent mine wars in the mid-nineteenth century to environmental conservation disputes at the end of the twentieth, people in the West have battled over the role of government and notions of American identity to answer this question. Winners ultimately controlled the perception of their battles, often shaping the contours of the next conflict.
                Similarly, historians debated interpretations of the West. In the early twentieth century, Frederick Jackson Turner argued that interactions on the frontier formed American characteristics of rugged individualism, democracy, aggression, and innovation. The “New” Western historians of the late 1970s attempted to debunk this theory, revealing the racial and ethnic diversity of the West, reminding us of the role of the environment, and documenting how settlers and later corporations conquered land wrested away from Native Americans.
                While “New” Western historians shot holes in Turner's thesis, the myths of the Old West prevailed. People craved the identity offered in western themed novels, films, and tourism more than historical facts. Showdown in the Big Quiet demonstrates how the “Old West” speaks to the “New” and proves how the power of western mythology moved from background to central character.
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White Biting Dog
A suicidal young man is rescued by a white dog who gives him a mission: save his father from death. His mission flounders until the dog's owner helps him by bringing his reluctant mother back into the family.

Winner of the 1984 Governor General's Literary Award for Drama.
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Doc

When Catherine returns home on the eve of ceremonies honouring her physician father, she unleashes a kaleidoscope of memories as father and daughter attempt to lay old ghosts to rest. While public service has been the keynote of Doc's life it has covered the private anguish of a family in crisis. Interacting with figures from the past (including wife and mother Bob, best friend Oscar, and Catherine herself as the young child Katie), the characters retrace and relive past triumphs and tragedies, culminating in Bob's death. Humour leavens this drama of a father and daughter's struggle to love, to forgive, and to understand in order to go on.

Doc was first produced in 1984 at Theatre Calgary and has since been produced widely elsewhere. The play received the Governor General's Award for Drama in 1986.

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release date: Sep 08, 1998
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Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)
In this exuberant comedy and original revision of Shakespeare's Othello and Romeo and Juliet -- Constance Ledbelly, a drab and dusty academic, deciphers a cryptic manuscript she believes to be the original source for the tragedies, and is transported into the plays themselves. She visits Juliet and Desdemona, has a hand in saving them, and finds out what these women are about. In true Shakespearean spirit, Constance plunders the plays and creates something new, all the while engaging in a personal voyage of self-discovery. With an abundance of twists, fights, dances, seductions, and wild surprises, the play is an absolute joy of theatricality.
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Amigo's Blue Guitar
A college student's life is given meaning when he chooses to sponsor Elias, a Salvadoran refugee, as a class project. When Elias arrives, his hosts Sander and his family learn what it means and feels to be a refugee and how to relate to someone who has endured such intense personal grief. The warmth and humour of the characters invite us to embrace the situation—be at once moved and threatened by it—and to consider how we ourselves would react.

Cast of 2 women and 3 men.

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Fronteras Americanas
Fuelled by equal parts outrage, intelligence and wit, Fronteras Americanas re-creates one person's struggle to construct a home between two cultures, while exploding the images and constructs built up around Latinos and Latin America. This one-person play works through bold juxtapositions and satiric reference points: Simón Bolívar and Speedy Gonzales; Columbus and Fodor's travel guides; Ricky Ricardo and the Latin Lover; ‘La Bamba' and Placido Domingo; Carlos Fuentes and American made-for-TV drug-wars movies. Verdecchia twirls stereotypes and clichés, offers comparative histories, examines myths and mysticism, and provides lessons in language and dancing.

Cast of one man.
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The Ends of the Earth
Frank, having dedicated his life to the unremarkable, and Walker, paranoid since being struck by lighting at age three, attempt to flee from each other and end up following each other instead. They find themselves in a run-down hotel operated by deaf and misdirected Willy and blind Alice, who has a murderous dislike for visitors. Morris Panych's brilliant tale reminds us all that fear can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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Three in the Back, Two in the Head
Winner of the 1995 Governor General's Literary Award for Drama.
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The Monument

Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award, and produced on stages across the world, The Monument is a searing exploration of the nature of forgiveness. It is a profound classic that examines the paradox of the soldier today and the ambiguities of morality and justice.

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Farewel

Winner of the Governor General's Award. Life is tense on the Partridge Crop Reserve. The Chief is in Las Vegas (again), the band is in receivership, and there's a move on to unilaterally declare self-government. And now that the welfare cheques have gone missing, the people of this Fictional First Nation are forced to take control of their lives. fareWel is a raw and funny look at a group of ordinary people tackling some extraordinarily big issues.

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Harlem Duet

Winner of the Governor General's Award for Drama. Winner of the Chalmers Play Award. A rhapsodic blues tragedy. Harlem Duet could be the prelude to Shakepeare's Othello, and recounts the tale of Othello and his first wife Billie (yes, before Desdemona). Set in contemporary Harlem at the corner of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X boulevards, the play explores the space where race and sex intersect. Harlem Duet is Billie's story.

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Drawer Boy
A young actor from the big city lives with two aging bachelor farmers to gather stories about rural life. The farmers' lives are irrevocably altered when art attempts to imitate life and the line between truth and fiction is crossed.

Winner of the 1999 Governor General's Literary Award for Drama
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Elizabeth Rex

Based on the original stage production at the Stratford Festival of Canada, directed by Martha Henry.

In this daring and original production of Timothy Findley's Governor-General Award winning play, William Shakespeare and the formidable Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I, are brought together in a remarkable encounter on the night of April 22, 1616. The night the Queen's Lover will be executed, by the Queen's decree.

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Unity (1918)
In the fall of 1918, a world ravaged by four years of war was suddenly hit by a mysterious and deadly plague—the “Spanish Flu.” The illness struck not only the young and the elderly, but also people in the prime of their lives, advancing rapidly toward mortality in its victims. This phenomenon in effect brought the terror, the panic, the horror and the sense of helplessness of the Great War home with the returning soldiers—more people died of this epidemic than had been killed in battle throughout the armed conflict.

As fear of the dreaded flu begins to fill the town of Unity with paranoia, drastic measures are taken. The town is quarantined in an attempt to keep the illness out. Trains are forbidden to stop, no one can enter, and the borders are sealed. Mail from overseas, feared to be carrying the deadly virus, is gathered and then burned. But when the disease descends upon the town despite their precautions, the citizens begin to turn on each other as they attempt to find a scapegoat for the crisis.

Very little has been written about this worldwide calamity which, more than the war itself, destroyed forever the genteel and naive presumptions of European colonial society at the beginning of the twentieth century. Kevin Kerr offers audiences not only an epic chronicle of this forgotten chapter of Canadian history, but a chilling preview of the beginnings of our own new century.

The play is a gothic romance, filled with dark comedy and the desperate embrace of life at the edge of death.

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Einstein's Gift

Winner of the 2003 Governor General's Literary Award in the category of Drama

Nominated for five Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards, including Outstanding New Play (2003).

Winner of the 1999 Canadian Jewish Playwriting Competition.

Based on the life and work of Nobel Laureate Dr. Fritz Haber who risked
everything for a country that never accepted him, but used his work to
murder millions.

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Girl in the Goldfish Bowl
As Morris Panych's latest comedy opens, we hear Iris, a precocious girl of ten, saying: “These are the last few days of my childhood.” The death of her goldfish, Amal, she is sure, has been announced by the air-raid sirens during the day's school drill. For Iris, there remain a few more days of life in a universe that is inherently ordered, where the spirit of her departed and ritually interred goldfish can, of course, be re-incarnated in a lost and amnesiac drifter given to rhetorical questions of seemingly deep philosophical import.

Iris's terminally depressed parents, trapped within the nostalgic desires of their own lost youth, are oblivious to how the child's eye view of their daughter works and what it sees. They remember too well their own loss of innocence as they abandoned themselves to the existential chaos of adulthood. The middle-aged family boarder has spent years in a frustrated search for any kind of gratification, immediate or otherwise, at the Legion after a full day's work in the fish cannery.

It is into the goldfish bowl of this dysfunctional family of lethargic piranhas, existential bottom-feeders and aggressive guppies that the audience peers with incredulity, acute recognition, hysterical laughter, and an overwhelming sense of the creative healing power of the imagination.

Cast of three women and two men.

Winner of the 2004 Governor General's Award for Drama.
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Half Life

“Mighton's most accessible play…beautifully told.”—Stage and Page

Two nursing home residents rekindle what might have been a wartime romance. The award-winning author of Possible Worlds brings us this poetic and moving meditation on identity, aging and the nature of memory. What shines through when memory fades away? John Mighton is a Dora, Chalmers and Governor General's Literary Award for Drama winner.

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I Still Love You

“Each play adds up to a theatre experience which is so intriguing that we find ourselves going back through our memory of watching it.”—from the introduction by Linda Moore

Five plays by Daniel MacIvor in celebration of the twentieth anniversary of da da kamera. Includes: Never Swim Alone, The Soldier Dreams, You Are Here, In on It, and A Beautiful View.

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The December Man
Drama on courage, heroism, and despair exploring the long public shadow that private family violence casts.
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Bone Cage
Awarded the Special Merit prize in 2002 Theatre BC New Play Competition.
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Where the Blood Mixes
Where the Blood Mixes is meant to expose the shadows below the surface of the author's First Nations heritage, and to celebrate its survivors. Though torn down years ago, the memories of their Residential School still live deep inside the hearts of those who spent their childhoods there. For some, like Floyd, the legacy of that trauma has been passed down through families for generations. But what is the greater story, what lies untold beneath Floyd's alcoholism, under the pain and isolation of the play's main character?

Loring's title was inspired by the mistranslation of the N'lakap'mux (Thompson) place name Kumsheen. For years, it was believed to mean “the place where the rivers meet”—the confluence of the muddy Fraser and the brilliant blue Thompson Rivers. A more accurate translation is: “the place inside the heart where the blood mixes.” But Kumsheen also refers to a story: Coyote was disemboweled there, along a great cliff in an epic battle with a giant shape-shifting being that could transform the world with its powers—to this day his intestines can still be seen strewn along the granite walls. In his rage the transformer tore Coyote apart and scattered his body across the nation, his heart landing in the place where the rivers meet.

Floyd is a man who has lost everyone he holds most dear. Now after more than two decades, his daughter Christine returns home to confront her father. Set during the salmon run, Where the Blood Mixes takes us to the bottom of the river, to the heart of a People.

In 2009 Where the Blood Mixes won the Jessie Richardson Award for Outstanding Original Script; the Sydney J. Risk Prize for Outstanding Original Script by an Emerging Playwright; and most recently the Governor General's Literary Award for Drama.
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Afterimage
Based on the short story by Michael Crummey, Afterimage explores the connections built within both family and community.
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If We Were Birds

Erin Shields' award-winning play is a shocking, uncompromising examination of the horrors of war, giving voice to a woman long ago forced into silence, and placing a spotlight on millions of female victims who have been silenced through violence, delivered through the lens of Greek tragedy.


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It Is Solved by Walking

Winner of the 2012 Governor General's Literary Award for Drama.

After learning of the death of her former husband, Margaret begins to unearth the blissful and painful memories of their marriage, all through the lens of Wallace Stevens's poem "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird." Bold and poetic, It Is Solved by Walking is an intimate portrait of a writer making her way back to poetry one step at a time.

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