Profs and alumni honoured at Jessie Awards

The 33rd Annual Jessie awards were recently held to honour artistic achievements in theatre, with UBC alumni and faculty members receiving multiple awards for their contribution to Vancouver’s vibrant theatre community.

The Jessies are divided into three categories -- Small Theatre, Large Theatre and Theatre for Young Audiences, with a variety of special awards.

This year the UBC alumni and faculty members recognized at the ceremony included Craig Holzschuch (artistic and managing director at Théâtre la Seizième), Christine Quintana (playwright and artistic co-producer at Delinquent Theatre) and Jerry Wasserman (professor and head of UBC’s department of theatre and film).

The award winners were selected via a secret ballot by the four juries from the Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards Society, a non-profit organization run by a volunteer board of directors composed of the most accomplished professionals in the region.

Of the three major categories, the big winner in the Large Category and in the Theatre for Young Audiences was Théâtre la Seizième, a UBC alumni-led company directed by Craig Holzschuch.

Their extraordinary production of À Toi Toujours, Marie-Lou captured six awards, which included Holzschuch's award for outstanding direction.

Holzschuch gave a touching speech following his win. “As a director, you never think that all these people will be this excited about the work that you do or that you will be lucky enough to have interest across the country, or that the show will be sold out, so it is quite a wonderful experience,” he said.

A number of UBC alumni and faculty members also received special awards. UBC professor Jerry Wasserman scored the prestigious Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance Career Achievement Award, in recognition of his major contribution to Vancouver’s community theatre.

“This award acknowledges that the work we do in the university is also relevant to the community and vice versa, and that there’s no contradiction between making art and engaging with it critically and intellectually at the same time," said Wasserman. "I’m tremendously grateful to UBC, where I’ve worked and taught and learned for the past 43 years. My career in theatre and film would not have been possible without the freedom, flexibility and encouragement UBC has given me. I have been hugely fortunate to have the best day job any actor could possibly have.”

In addition, UBC graduate Christina Quintana was awarded the Sydney J. Risk Prize for Outstanding Original Script by an Emerging Playwright as well as the Outstanding Production for a Musical in Small Theatre for Delinquent Theatre’s production of Stationary: A Recession-Era Musical.

“It's such an honour to have won the award for Stationary: A Recession-Era Musical because it's created by UBC grads, from a company created by UBC grads. I was proud to represent Theatre at UBC when we toured the show to Ontario, and prouder still to have our work recognized at the Jessies. I hope current students look at us and realize that many, many exciting things are out there if you're willing to bust your butt and build a community of like-minded artists,” said Quintana.