Mayor's Arts Award for Theatre

Marcus Youssef and Conor Wylie

2017 recipients

Marcus Youssef


Marcus Youssef's plays – many of which investigate questions of difference and “otherness” – have been performed across North America, Australia and Europe. Youssef is Artistic Director of Vancouver’s Neworld Theatre. He sat on the City’s Arts and Culture Policy Council for five years, co-chaired the Coalition of Progressive Electors and co-founded the artist-run production studio, PL1422.

He's held international residencies and has served on the faculties of UBC, Concordia and Capilano Universities, where he implemented the country’s first multi-institutional Bachelor of Performing Arts degree. He has worked with many community groups and is currently a Canadian Fellow to the International Society of Performing Arts. Selected awards and nominations: Canada Council Lynch-Staunton Award for Artistic Excellence, Rio-Tinto Alcan Performing Arts Award, Chalmer's Canadian Play Award, Vancouver Critics' Choice Award, a Governor General’s Award nomination and numerous Jessie awards.

Conor Wylie

Emerging artist

Conor Wylie is a queer artist of colour attached to companies A Wake of Vultures and OOOO, and a close collaborator of Hong Kong Exile. He is a Jessie-nominated freelance actor. Most passionate about creating new, formally-experimental and interdisciplinary performance, he spent a year in residence with Theatre Replacement, and has worked closely with other members of the Progress Lab consortium, especially Radix Theatre and The Only Animal.

Wylie’s original works include eatingthegame, a satirical motivational keynote address about affordability and gentrification; Visitors from Far Away to the State Machine, an erotic multimedia space opera; #86, a list of speculative performances about imagination and mourning performed in the Boreal forest; and ALL THE WAY, a haunted interactive game-show. His works have been commissioned by and performed at PuSh, Magnetic North, Summerworks, rEvolver, UNOfest, and FUSE at the VAG. Wylie is a graduate of SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts.

Past recipients

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Jan Hodgson


Jan Hodgson (left) and Ruth Bruhn (right), Mayor's Arts Award for Theater honoree and emerging artist, respectivelyJan Hodgson is a theatre and dance stage manager who has travelled with productions that were created and developed out of Vancouver, her hometown. She was trained and mentored by actor Antony Holland in a program at Vancouver Community College that eventually became the renowned Studio 58.

Her incredible career fortune led her to stage managing for 17 years at the Vancouver Playhouse, being immersed in multimedia and site specific projects with Electric Company Theatre and spending glorious summers outdoors at the Caravan Farm Theatre. Her credits include pieces with Theatre Calgary, Kokoro Dance, Karen Jamieson Dance, Theatre Replacement, Catalyst Theatre, Arts Club Theatre, Citadel Theatre, Canadian Stage, Manitoba Theatre Centre, National Arts Centre, American Conservatory Theatre, Playwrights Theatre Centre, Judith Marcuse Projects, Centro Flamenco, Hard Rubber Orchestra/New Music Society, Modern Baroque Opera, Mascall Dance, Wild Excursions Performance and Dancing on The Edge.

Ruth Bruhn

Emerging artist

Ruth Bruhn is a local stage manager, design assistant and venue manager. Ruth graduated from the production program at Studio 58 where she was awarded the John F. Parker Scholarship for Theatre Arts for demonstrating exceptional promise. Since graduation she has been part of stage management teams across Vancouver including Gateway Theatre, Full Circle First Nations Performance, Neworld Theatre, Bard on the Beach (2015-2016), Carousel Theatre for Young People, and Theatre Replacement.

Ruth is excited to be returning to Theatre Replacement this December for her third season with the East Van Panto at the York Theatre. She will also be stage managing her first touring show this January with Green Thumb Theatre and their production of Alone Together.

Margo Kane


Margo Kane is an interdisciplinary Cree / Saulteaux artist and a leading figure in Aboriginal performing arts.

Her desire to create work that has meaning for her people is the catalyst for her extensive work and travels into Aboriginal communities across Canada and abroad.

She is the founder and Artistic Managing Director of Full Circle: First Nations Performance, overseeing the annual Talking Stick Festival and an Aboriginal Ensemble in Vancouver.

Recent theatre credits include:

  • For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again at the Richmond Gateway Theatre, a production that was voted the Audience Favorite at the 2013 Magnetic North Theatre Festival
  • Bah Humbug!, a Christmas “classic” for Vancouver Moving Theatre and SFU Woodward’s, where Margo played the recurring role as Raven/Narrator for the past six seasons

Margo received:

  • The inaugural Lorena Gale Woman of Distinction award from Union of BC Performers
  • A Jessie Richardson Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actress in Where the Blood Mixes
  • A BC Touring Award of Excellence
  • A BC Community Achievement Award
  • Most recently, an honorary doctorate of letters from the University of the Fraser Valley

Tai Amy Grauman

Emerging artist

Tai Amy Grauman is currently in her third year of a bachelor of fine arts degree in acting at UBC, with a double major in First Nations studies.

She is also a new member of Full Circle’s training ensemble program and a proud member of the Métis Nation of Alberta.

Tai is also an emerging director, writer, and a classically-trained dancer and guitarist.

She is planning on pursuing a PhD which will explore Aboriginal theatre.

Tai focuses on theatre which examines women in society. Her play about eating disorders, Faith, has been an ongoing project for three years of writing, producing, directing, and acting in Alberta and BC.

Tai is a passionate believer in theatre for social change. She wants to thank Margo Kane for her support and inspiration.

Nancy Bryant


Nancy Bryant, 2014 Mayor's Arts Award for Theatre honoureeNancy Bryant graduated from Emily Carr College of Art and Design in 1983 and has enjoyed a career in the arts ever since. She began designing costumes for dance in the mid-80s, which led to design work in theatre, film, and opera.

Some of her most memorable designs for theatre include costumes for The Overcoat (Vancouver Playhouse), Hamlet (Bard on the Beach), The Constant Wife and Tear the Curtain (Arts Club) and most recently, Helen Lawrence (Arts Club/CanStage).

Her dance costume designs include work for Kidd Pivot, Ballet BC, Netherlands Dance Theatre, Monte Carlo Ballet, and the Dance Theatre of Harlem. She has also designed costumes for Pacific Opera Victoria, including the upcoming production of Das Rheingold, and for this season’s production of Sweeney Todd for the Vancouver Opera.

Nancy’s costume designs have also been featured in the TV series Legend of Earthsea for which she won a Leo Award. She is also the recipient of numerous Jessie Richardson Awards for her theatre designs.

Marshall McMahen

Emerging artist

Marshall McMahen, 2014 Mayor's Arts Award for Theatre emerging artistMarshall McMahen is a set, lighting, costume, and projection designer for theatre and opera. He earned a degree in theatre from the University of BC. Since graduating, he has been designing for theatres in Vancouver and around BC. Marshall is the recipient of a Jessie Award and two Ovation Awards for Outstanding Set Design.

Marshall’s design credits include Spamalot and Avenue Q (Arts Club), All the Way Home (Electric Company), Chelsea Hotel (Firehall Arts Centre, and National Tour), The King and I (Gateway), Head Over Heels, Old Nick, The Notorious Right Robert, and Punch and Judy (Caravan Farm Theatre), Out In the Open (Green Thumb Theatre, North American tour), and several operas.

This season Marshall is the Resident Associate Designer for Pacific Opera Victoria. 

Patrick McDonald


2013 Theatre Honouree Patrick McDonaldPatrick McDonald has been the artistic director of Green Thumb Theatre since 1988, and was the artistic director of Great Canadian Theatre Company in Ottawa.He has directed over 75 productions for Green Thumb and has overseen the commission and development of more than 50 new plays. He has commissioned work from both emerging writers like Dave Deveau and Michele Riml, and established writers Morris Panych, Joan MacLeod, and George F. Walker.

McDonald has won Jessie Richardson Awards for both directing and continued excellence in the field of theatre for young audiences. In 2009, he received the Jessie Award for career achievement. During his tenure, Green Thumb Theatre has won many Jessie Richardson Awards, Betty Mitchell Awards, and three Canada Council Awards for Outstanding Production for Young Audiences.

He has directed at theatres across the country including: The Belfry, The Grand Theatre, Alberta Theatre Projects, National Arts Centre, Vancouver Playhouse, Gateway Theatre, Manitoba Theatre for Young People, and Arts Club Theatre. He has been a two-time member of the Canada Council’s Theatre Advisory Committee and has sat on many peer juries at the provincial and federal levels.

Kyle Jespersen

Emerging artist

2013 Theatre Emerging Artist Kyle JespersenKyle Jespersen is a graduate of Studio 58 and recently received a Betty Mitchell Award for his portrayal of a BC gang leader in the rap musical Ash Rizin. This show, jointly produced by Green Thumb Theatre and Alberta Theatre Projects, marked Jespersen’s fourth collaboration with director Patrick McDonald.

Over the past several years, he has worked almost exclusively on new Canadian plays, including The Rick Hansen Story, Shelter From the Storm, The Valley, and Dust. Jespersen has also appeared at The Cultch in the critically-acclaimed plays Penelope and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, as well as five seasons of It’s a Wonderful Life at the Arts Club Theatre Company.

His own play Manley Dunn was produced in Calgary at Sage Theatre’s 2011 Ignite! Festival. He also had the recent honour of providing voiceover for the CBC Radio documentary In His Footsteps.

Visit Kyle Jespersen's website

Donna Spencer


Donna Spencer, 2012 honouree (photo by Chris Randle)Donna Spencer is the artistic producer of the Firehall Arts Centre and was one of the Firehall’s founding directors. She is the winner of the Jessie Richardson Outstanding Direction Award for Urinetown, the Musical and for Reading Hebron. Her many theatre directorial credits include Vimy, Einstein’s Gift, The Yoko Ono Project, The Unnatural and Accidental Women, The Ecstasy of Rita Joe and many others. Spencer has collaboratively created three plays – Walking the Tightrope, Mainstream and Opening Doors – as well as the contemporary adaptation of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People for the Firehall. 

An advocate for inclusivity in the performing arts, she created one of Canada’s first culturally diverse theatre production programs at the Firehall in 1985. She is the recipient of many awards, including a Jessie Richardson Award for Multicultural Innovation in the Theatre and the City of Vancouver’s 1999 Cultural Harmony Award. Spencer is a member of the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame, and has received the YWCA Women of Distinction Award. Spencer is also the producer of the annual Dancing on the Edge Festival of Contemporary Dance.

Anita Rochon

Emerging artist

2012 Emerging Artist Anita RochonAnita Rochon is a Vancouver-based director who has been involved in the development of more than 20 new pieces of theatre. She is co-artistic director of The Chop Theatre, which has produced numerous new works including Townsville, KISMET one to one hundred, and How to Disappear Completely, many of which have toured nationally.

Rochon frequently collaborates with some of the city’s most celebrated theatre companies including Theatre Replacement, Théâtre la Seizième and Studio 58. She recently had the opportunity to work with Neworld Theatre, Rumble Productions, Boca del Lupo and Electric Company Theatre when she directed Community Dinner, a re-imagining of dinner theatre created with recent newcomers to Canada.

Rochon is a graduate of Studio 58 (Acting) and the National Theatre School of Canada (Directing) and was recently awarded the Ray Michal Prize for Outstanding Direction and the Siminovitch Protégé prize.

The 2012 peer jury was Kim Collier, Norman Armour, and Christopher Gaze.

Christopher Gaze


2011 Theatre Honouree Christopher GazeChristopher Gaze is founding artistic director of Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival and has performed in England, the USA, and across Canada. Born in England, he trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School before coming to Canada where he spent three seasons at the Shaw Festival.

Christopher moved to Vancouver and founded Bard on the Beach, which he nurtured to become one of the most successful not-for-profit arts organization in North America.

In addition to performing and directing, Christopher's voice is heard regularly in cartoons, commercials, and on the radio. He also hosts Vancouver Symphony's popular Tea & Trumpets series and their annual Christmas concerts.

His many honours include induction into the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame, a recipient of Canada's Meritorious Service Medal, Honorary Doctorates from the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University, the BC Community Achievement Award, the Gold Medallion from the Children's Theatre Foundation of America, and a Jessie Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Equus at The Playhouse.

Anton Lipovetsky

Emerging artist

2011 Theatre Emerging Artist Anton LipovetskyAnton Lipovetsky is a recent graduate of Vancouver's Studio 58 Acting Training program, where he received the Earl Klein Memorial Scholarship and the first ever Lloyd Nicholson Memorial Scholarship for Outstanding Musical Achievement.

He is the writer and sole performer of the musical FLOP!, which he toured to the 2011 Edmonton Fringe Festival. He is also co-writer and co-musical director of the critically acclaimed musical The Park (Studio 58), which was remounted, expand, and received an Ovation Award for Outstanding New Work.

As an actor, Anton could last be seen as Royce in True Loves Lies (Touchstone Theatre), Charringrton in 1984 (Virtual Stage/Studio 58), Antipholus of Syracuse in Comedy of Errors (Studio 58), and Mark Cohen in Rent (Fighting Chance), and he can also be seen in the upcoming Countryside Christmas (Chemainus Theatre Festival).

He hopes to become a prolific creator and artistic collaborator, and to continue being immersed in his two passions: music and theatre.

The 2011 peer jury was Bill Millerd, Kim Collier, and Norman Armour.


Norman Armour


2010 Honouree Artist Norman ArmourNorman Armour is the executive director of the PuSH International Performing Arts Festival. Since graduating from Simon Fraser University's School for the Contemporary Arts in 1986, he has collaborated on over 120 works for the stage and other media.

His experience runs the gamut from the commission, creation, production, and presentation of new Canadian work, innovative adaptations of contemporary and classical works, site-specific endeavours, large-scale interdisciplinary events, dance/theatre collaborations, and live-remote radio broadcasts.

Under his leadership from 1995 to 2005, Rumble Productions became a mainstay of Vancouver's thriving independent theatre scene and was widely acknowledged for its commitment to new and emerging practitioners.

Over the years, Norman has served on numerous boards and advisories and was president of the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance from 1994 to 1996.

Tanya Marquardt

Emerging artist

2010 Emerging Artist Tanya MarquardtTanya Marquardt is a theatre/dance maker, writer, and deviser. This season, she worked with Jennifer Mascall, Jerome Bel / PuSH Fesival, Anatomica, Theatre Terrific, Proximity Arts, The Only Animal, Playwrits Theatre Centre, The Leaky Heaven Circus, and Nakai Theatre, among others.

A graduate of Simon Fraser University and Main Dance, Tanya was the 2007 recipient of the Syndey J Risk Award for Outstanding Work by an Emerging Playwright, as well as the 2007 Honourable Mention for the Holy Body Tattoo Emerging Artist Award.

She splits her time between Vancouver and New York City, while working on her MFA at Hunter College.

The 2010 peer jury was Bill Millerd, Kim Collier, and Joy Coghill.

Kim Collier


2009 Honouree Artist Kim CollierKim Collier has been working as a director, actress, producer, and theatre creator for 24 years. A graduate of Studio 58’s acting program, for the past 14 years she has been co-artistic director of Electric Company Theatre in Vancouver, which she co-founded with Jonathon Young, Kevin Kerr, and David Hudgins and with whom she has co-authored nine of their original plays.

For Electric Company, Ms Collier has directed such productions as The Score, The One That Got Away, and The Fall. She recently directed Electric Company's Studies in Motion for the Vancouver Playhouse, Alberta Theatre Projects, Festival Trans Amerique, and the Yukon Arts Centre, as well as Brilliant! for the Belfry Theatre.

Recent freelance credits include: Titus Andronicus for Bard on the Beach, A Doll's House for Chemainus Theatre Festival, and assistant-directing Carmen and Fidelio at Vancouver Opera.

A believer in the power of community and the collaborative process, Kim is proud to have been one of the inspiring forces behind initiatives like Progress Lab, Hive and the new Progress Lab 1422 production centre.

Meg Roe

Emerging artist

2009 Emerging Artist Meg RoeMeg Roe is a well established and nationally recognized actor and sound designer, but emerged as a director last summer with The Tempest at Bard On the Beach and a recent production of The Miracle Worker at The Vancouver Playhouse.

Ms Roe’s work has appeared across the country at The Canadian Stage, The Factory Theatre, Theatre Calgary, Alberta Theatre Projects, Theatre Junction, The Vancouver Playhouse, The Citadel Theatre, Ruby Slippers, The Electric Company, Theatre Aquarius, The Arts Club, The Belfry, Theatre SKAM, Intrepid Theatre, Western Canada Theatre, The National Arts Centre, The Centaur, and ACT (San Francisco).

She has been nominated for Dora Mavor Moore, Betty Mitchell, and Jessie Richardson awards over fifteen times and has even taken some home.

The 2009 peer jury was Heather Refern and Bill Millerd.

Bill Millerd


Bill Millerd has been the Artistic Managing Director of Vancouver's Arts Club Theatre Company since 1972 and the longest serving artistic director in Canada.

He graduated from UBC and went on to graduate from the National Theatre School. He has worked for several Canadian theatre companies, including the Shaw Festival and the Playhouse Theatre Company.

During his tenure at the Arts Club, he oversawt he construction of the Granville Island Stage and the Revue Stage, as well as the re-opening of the historic Stanley Theatre. Under his leadership, the theatre has staged more than 110 Canadian works, including more than 70 premieres of new Canadian plays.

He has received a Jessie Richardson Theatre Award for Career Achivement and is a member of the Order of Canada.

The 2008 peer jury was John Alleyne, Joy Coghill, Sal Ferreras, Jane Heyman, Michael Noon, Robert Sunter, Alexander Varty, Donna Wong-Juliani, and Max Wyman.