Perhaps the most exhilarating aspect of Canadian theatre is that it needs to be reinvented with every generation. There can be nothing more rewarding than to discover your own audience. Canada remains essentially a land of discovery.”

-Paul Thompson

Uncommon Hero
John L’Ecuyer, Director, Lea Marin, Producer

Montreal-born writer/director John L'Ecuyer has more than 100 film and television credits to his name. His feature films, notably Curtis' Charm and Le goût des jeunes filles, have played at over 78 film festivals around the world. He is also the author of Use Once and Destroy, a novel about drug addicts in Montreal.

Paul Thompson

2011 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Stages (formerly Theatre))

Theatre creator, animateur and ideal audience

Paul Thompson is one of the undisputed founders of English-language theatre in Canada. Writer, director, producer and maverick, co-founder and former Artistic Director of Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille and former Director General of the National Theatre School of Canada, he was a pioneer of “collective creation,” in which plays are developed by the actors themselves from their own experiences and improvisations. He has directed across the country and around the world, brought over 200 original productions to the stage, mentored several generations of Canadian theatre artists, and helped establish such influential theatre companies as Newfoundland’s CODCO, Saskatoon’s 25th Street Theatre, and Toronto’s Nightwood Theatre. Former CODCO member Mary Walsh has described him as “the godfather of real homemade thrilling hand-hewed Canadian knock-your-socks-off theatre.”

Mr. Thompson was born in Charlottetown in 1940 and grew up in rural Ontario. He studied French and English literature at the University of Western Ontario, completed an MA at the University of Toronto, and attended the Sorbonne in Paris. He apprenticed with renowned director Roger Planchon in Lyon, France, and was assistant director to Jean Gascon at the Stratford Festival (1968–70).

In 1970 he became Artistic Director of Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille. During his 13‑year tenure he staged close to 200 plays, including such groundbreaking hits as The Farm Show (1972), 1837: The Farmers’ Revolt (1973), I Love You, Baby Blue (1975, for which he was arrested), Les maudits anglais (1978), and Maggie and Pierre (1979, winner of the first Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play).

As Director General (1987–91) of the National Theatre School he helped initiate directing and playwriting programs, and established the annual Gascon-Thomas Award for excellence in Canadian theatre.

Now a freelance director and producer, he continues to champion emerging companies and lead the way in bringing the stories of ordinary and extraordinary Canadians to the stage.

Awards and honours include Officer of the Order of Canada (2008); Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts Silver Ticket Award (1994) for outstanding contribution to the development of Canadian theatre; the only playwright honoured with a Tribute Evening by Toronto’s International Festival of Authors; honorary degree from the University of Western Ontario.