Two English-language and two French-language playwrights are up for this year's $100,000 Siminovitch Prize - but the contest for the richest prize in Canadian theatre may shape up to be one of veterans versus newcomers.
Michel Marc Bouchard, whose play Christina, the Girl King is currently on stage at the Stratford Festival, is the most accomplished playwright on the list. His career dates back to the 1980s and his work includes Tom at the Farm, turned into a movie by Xavier Dolan, and Lilies, which was adapted into a film by John Greyson.
Colleen Murphy, who like Bouchard has been writing since the 1980s, is the other veteran playwright on the list. Her recent plays include Pig Girl, a controversial work inspired by the Robert Pickton murders, which premiered in Edmonton last year, and The December Man, a widely-produced play inspired by the Montreal massacre.
From the younger generation, Hannah Moscovitch has become one of English-Canada's most-produced playwrights only in the past decade. She is best known for her hit East of Berlin, a morally complex play about the son of a Nazi, and This is War, which is set during Canada's mission to Afghanistan.
Finally, Olivier Choinière is the most formally experimental of the contenders. His play Bliss was performed at the Royal Court in London, translated into English by Caryl Churchill, but his other works have veered into the post-dramatic realm and have included audio tours and audacious theatre hacks.
The Siminovitch Prize is given out to a playwright, a director or a designer on a three-year cycle. This year's jury for the playwright award was chaired by John Van Burek. The 2014 prize will be awarded on October 20 at Hart House Theatre in Toronto in an evening hosted by playwright Susan Coyne and comedian Mark McKinney.