Drama Prof Named to Royal Society

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University of Guelph professor Judith Thompson, one of the nation’s top playwrights and directors, has been elected to the Royal Society of Canada, considered Canada’s senior academic honour.

“This is wonderful and well-deserved recognition for Prof. Thompson,” said Charlotte Yates, U of G’s provost and vice-president (academic).

“Judith Thompson is a highly respected playwright, director, screenwriter, actor and producer as well as an excellent teacher and mentor. University of Guelph is fortunate to have her on our faculty.”

Malcolm Campbell, vice-president (research) added: “Professor Thompson’s scholarly contributions have enriched the arts in Canada. She is a prolific writer whose works have resonated with audiences around the world. Her election to the Royal Society recognizes these accomplishments, and the entire University community is thrilled that she has received this prestigious honour.”

Thompson will be among 87 new fellows to be inducted at a Nov. 27 ceremony in Victoria, B.C.

Founded in 1882, the Royal Society of Canada is the country’s oldest and most prestigious scholarly organization. Fellows are elected by their peers to recognize outstanding scholarly, scientific and artistic achievement.

The Royal Society citation calls Thompson “one of the best and most produced playwrights in the English-speaking world.

“A formal innovator, she established that reputation by giving voice to people who are rarely heard — recording the experiences of the disenfranchised — and by speaking the rarely acknowledged truths of the human condition.”

A professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies in the College of Arts since 1992, Thompson has written 19 plays. In 2014 she returned to acting after a 35-year hiatus, performing in her own one-woman play, Watching Glory Die.

Thompson has won the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award and was the first Canadian to receive the international Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

A two-time winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama, she has also won the Dora Mavor Moore Award, the Floyd S. Chalmers Canadian Play Award, a Toronto Arts Award, and the Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts,

She’s been nominated twice for both Genie and Gemini awards.

An Officer of the Order of Canada, Thompson was also the subject of The Masks of Judith Thompson, a book by U of G theatre studies professor Ric Knowles.