Deirdre Kelly

Deirdre Kelly Wins Canada’s Top Critics Prize



Toronto​, 1 November 2014


Two veteran free-lance theatre critics were named winners of the 2014 Nathan Cohen Awards for Excellence in Theatre Criticism on Saturday by the Canadian Theatre Critics Association. The awards, the longest continuing recognition in Canada for critical writing, cover a two year period.

The award for Short Category reviews (1,000 words and under) went to Martin Morrow for a 2013 piece on the Shaw Festival’s production of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia.
Morrow’s review appeared in the Globe and Mail on July 29, 2013 under the title
Arcadia: The mathematics of messy human emotions.

The award in the Long Category (over 1,000 words) went to Deirdre Kelly for a review of a piece involving puppets and dance called Malcolm created by choreographer James Kudelka. Kelly’s review appeared on an on-line website called Critics At Large August 15, 2014. The piece was headlined Dancing With Puppets and Pulling the Strings.

Judges for the 2014 competition were previous Cohen winners, freelance critic and poet Patricia Keeney of Toronto and Globe and Mail theatre critic J. Kelly Nestruck.

Each winner receives a cheque from CTCA along with a framed award certificate. The awards were presented in Toronto at a luncheon ceremony.

The Nathan Cohen Awards were established by the Toronto Drama Bench (the predecessor of the Canadian Theatre Critics Association) in 1981 and were taken over by CTCA in 1990 when the Drama Bench became part of the new national association.
CTCA is today the Canadian centre of the Unesco-based International Association of Theatre Critics with over 4,000 members around the world.

Since their inception, the Cohen Awards have been won by journalists, magazine writers, online writers and academic writers from across the country. National Post critic Robert

Cushman has won the award eight times with former Kingston Whig Standard critic and now Stratford Festival Communications Director David Prosser winning it six times.
Long-time Ottawa and Calgary critic Jamie Portman was a four-time winner with Montreal critic Marianne Ackerman and Toronto critics Kate Taylor and Martin Knelman winning the award three times each.

“The award recognizes excellence in critical writing about the theatre,” said CTCA President Don Rubin, founding editor of the Canadian Theatre Review and a former critic for both the Toronto Star and CBC Radio. “It recognizes excellence in the name of one of Canada’s most important and most influential theatre critics ever, the late Nathan Cohen of the Toronto Star.

“Theatre criticism today is certainly not disappearing but it is clearly changing and is becoming a significant part of the online world,” said Rubin. “This award seeks to ensure that expertise in the field continues to be recognized in what is becoming an expanding sea of personal opinion. As a profession, we are suggesting that expertise has a role to play not only in the new journalism but also in the development of theatre in all its evolving forms.”

This is Martin Morrow’s second Nathan Cohen Award. He previously won while serving as critic for the Calgary Herald in 1995. A free-lance journalist for most of his career, he writes most regularly these days for the Globe and Mail. He is the author of Wild
Theatre, a history of Calgary’s One Yellow Rabbit theatre company.

This is Deirdre Kelly’s first Nathan Cohen Award. A journalist, author and internationally recognised dance critic, she has written regularly on dance for the Globe and Mail, for Dance magazine in New York and the Dance Gazette in London and is a contributor to the International Dictionary of Ballet. She is the author of Paris Times Eight and Ballerina: Sex, Scandal and Suffering Behind the Symbol of Perfection, a book recently re-released in paperback.

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