JACQUIE P.A. THOMAS HONOURED WITH GEORGE LUSCOMBE MENTORSHIP AWARD
On Tuesday May 28, 2019 during the 40th Dora Nominee Press Conference at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres, Jacquie P. A. Thomas was honoured with the George Luscombe Award for Mentorship in Professional Theatre. The George Luscombe Mentorship Award was inaugurated in 1999. Revolutionary theatre founder and artistic director George Luscombe founded Toronto Workshop Productions (TWP) in 1959, marking the beginnings of Toronto’s alternative theatre movement. He was Artistic Director for 27 years at TWP.
Award-winning theatre artist and founder of Theatre Gargantua, Jacquie P.A. Thomas is one of the longest serving female Artistic Directors in the country. Accepting the award at the press conference Thomas said: “Making theatre in and for this community and country has been one of my greatest joys. I am grateful to my own mentor Cynthia Grant [founder of Nightwood Theatre], who has been extremely supportive of my career and our mentoring programs. So many emerging artists have come through the various programs we have at Gargantua. I have watched them become leaders in the field and I am grateful to have witnessed those journeys. I may be the one who is up here accepting this award but I fully share it with many of the senior artists at Gargantua who are so generous with their time and knowledge particularly, Joel Benson, Diane Niec, Erica Buss, Laird Macdonald, Yolanda Ferrato, Michelle Polak and last but for sure not least Michael Spence who has been with Gargantua for 25 years and has also been my partner in life, love and art. Thank you very much for this great honour.”
“Jacquie has a special knack for seeing potential in (and the willingness to take risks on) young persons not yet proven. This is a skill so critical in mentorship. Artists don’t grow solely in the passenger seat – they need to drive. Jacquie is someone who assumed my worth, assumed my commitment and trusted I would succeed in the multitude of tasks I was entrusted to carry out.” – Andrea Donaldson, Artistic Director at Nightwood Theatre
“Navigating these worlds of art, theatre, music and opera can be daunting, but to have someone like Jacquie supporting you, rooting for you, all the while continuing to produce her own work with such social, political and emotional depth is awe-inspiring. Our community and its artists is enriched by her work. I’m so happy to have reached out to her when I did and to be able to consider her an incredible mentor of mine today, a mentor, teacher and colleague I will know for life.” – Teiya Kasahara, Founder of Amplified Opera
Jacquie P.A. Thomas founded Theatre Gargantua in 1992, inspired by her experiences training and working with international creation-based companies. Since then she has maintained an unwavering commitment to producing original Canadian theatre and to the development and support of the artist, including young and emerging artists. Since its inception, Theatre Gargantua, a pioneer of Canadian multi-disciplinary devised theatre, has used an evolving methodology to create numerous award-winning works and has become an eclectic fixture in Toronto’s vibrant independent theatre community.
Melding provocative text, acrobatic-like choreography, live vocal compositions, and media into a signature style, Ms. Thomas’ work explores socially relevant themes through dynamic theatricality that engages a broad and diverse audience. Her works are created in a two-year cycle involving co-creators and audience through multiple phases of development before premiering a work. This methodology has earned Gargantua a distinct place within the theatre ecology, and within classrooms and universities where the process is regularly studied and she and other senior members of the company facilitate new creation workshops.
In addition to crafting a catalogue of bold and compelling award-winning works Ms. Thomas has fostered successful initiatives dedicated to mentoring, training and expanding artistic practice including Gargantua’s Emerging Artist Roundtable, Producing and Artistic Internship Programs, and the RISK Youth Workshops. The SideStream program, introduced in 2013, supports associate artists in the creation of original, sometimes experimental work, emphasizing projects that challenge their practice.
This year Jacquie P.A. Thomas celebrates her 27th Season with Gargantua. In addition to her role as Artistic Director, she has served Gargantua as an actor, director, producer, composer, choreographer, dramaturge and writer, earning ten Dora nominations and two awards for her artistic contributions to the company. Her most recent directorial projects include The Wager, Reflector, Avaricious, The Sacrifice Zone, and Raging Dreams – into the visceral. Other selected credits include the Ossetynski Actors Lab in Los Angeles, Roy Hart Theatre in France, The National Theatre of Greece and the Gardzienice Theatre Association of Poland. She was awarded a Harold Award for contributions to Toronto’s independent theatre community, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013 for contributions to Canadian Culture and Community.
Ms. Thomas’ work with Gargantua has been seen in multiple Canadian districts; across the UK where the company also held residencies at The Royal Exchange in Manchester and The Riverside Theatre in London; as well as at the Portland International Performance Festival in Oregon. At home her work has been presented in environments such as the caves and the ruined mill of the Rockwood Conservation Area, and in Toronto at The Theatre Centre, Artword Theatre, The Factory Theatre, Theatre Passe Muraille, the Harbourfront Theatre Centre and by Mirvish Productions at the Royal Alexandra Theatre.