OAF News

Announcing: The Ellen Ross Stuart Opening Doors Awards

Toronto, ON, October 10, 2017 – To celebrate the too short life of Ellen Ross Stuart (Nel), a new multi-year award has been created to “Open Doors” by empowering young writers to actively engage in their craft in association with three supportive theatres.

Nel Stuart found a home at the Tarragon through the Young Playwrights Unit and the Paprika Festival…as the theatre that has given voice to generations of Canadian playwrights we are thrilled to be part of this innovative new award which embraces and showcases new voices.  
Anne Wessels, Tarragon Theatre

The awards are for emerging writers 21-30 with some production credits who have graduated from post-secondary training or outgrown other programs that nurture young artists.

After 43 seasons the Blyth Festival remains committed to enriching “the lives of its audience by producing and developing plays that give voice to both the region and the country” while constantly questioning what it means “to give voice” and what voices are privileged or erased in our country.  Nel  believed in our mission and our community and we welcome this opportunity to support her memory through this award.
Gil Garratt, Blyth Festival


About the Award

Phase One: December 15 , 2017 deadline for application with winners announced in February 2018.  Download application form here >>

  • 3 young writers will be chosen on the basis of merit and a strong proposal for a play which will appeal to an audience of peers. Each will be awarded $2,000.
  • Each writer will commence an association with Tarragon and Hart House Theatres, as well as serve a two-week expenses paid internship at the Blyth Festival. 
  • Each selected proposal will receive dramaturgical assistance from theatre professionals.
  • Early in the summer of 2018 writers will participate in a Master class in new play development at York University.
  • 5 additional awards of $500 will be made to encourage other promising writers. These artists will also receive an invitation to attend the new play development Master class at York University and will be encouraged to apply for the 2019 Ellen Ross Stuart competition.


Phase Two
: August 2018

  • Workshop presentations of sample scenes by the three semi-finalists devised over the past 8 months will lead to a jury of theatre professionals choosing one Ellen Ross Stuart award winner.
  • The winner will receive $7,500 plus $2,500 seed money towards a final presentation at the Tarragon Studio in May 2019.
  • The winner will continue their association with Hart House and Tarragon theatres and the Blyth Festival according to the winner’s needs.

Through her involvement at Hart House Theatre, Nel played a vital role in many artistic successes and facilitated opportunities for many young and emerging artists.   This award in many ways continues Nel’s legacy as it focuses on engaging and empowering young artists – specifically young theatre writers.
Doug Floyd, Hart House Theatre


The Ellen Ross Stuart Fund was established at the Ontario Arts Foundation to fund the awards.  To make a donation please visit the Ontario Arts Foundation website.

Download award application form here >>


For more information about the award and the application process contact:
Autumn Smith,  Managing Director

Ellen Ross Stuart Opening Doors Awards
openingdoorsaward@gmail.com

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