Jurors say they couldn't settle on just four Canadian playwrights to put on this year's Siminovitch Prize short list, so they decided to nominate one more.
The National Arts Centre announced the expanded field of five finalists vying for the $100,000 Canadian theatre award on Thursday.
The Siminovitch Prize, which rotates on a three-year cycle to recognize contributions to different theatrical fields, is this year honouring excellence in playwriting.
Contenders include Chilean-Canadian playwright and author Carmen Aguirre, a core artist at Vancouver's Electric Company Theatre and co-founder of the Canadian Latinx Theatre Artist Coalition, and Tara Beagan, a theatre artist and activist of Ntlaka'pamux and Irish-Canadian heritage, who co-founded the Indigenous-led arts company Article 11 in Calgary.
Two Montreal playwrights, Martin Bellemare and Annick Lefebvre, also made the short list, alongside Toronto-bred satirist Karen Hines.
The Siminovitch Prize will be awarded at a virtual ceremony on Nov. 26. The winner will receive $75,000 and will also choose a protege to receive $25,000.
In a statement on Thursday, the prize jury said the nominees represent such a range of talent that they had to add an extra name to the traditional four-finalist race.
Jurors Vanessa Porteous, Jessica Carmichael, Julie McIsaac, Olivier Sylvestre and Donald Woo added that this year's competition comes at an uncertain time for theatre, as the COVID-19 pandemic has closed the curtains on live performance across the country, including many of the nominees' productions.
"The hugely competitive slate of nominees is evidence of the immeasurable creative power and thrilling range of artists in the contemporary Canadian theatre," the jury wrote.
"(Playwrights') livelihoods and future are in real jeopardy while Canadian theatre remains dark. It is hoped that these artists, and all Canadian theatre artists, will be heard by audiences again soon."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 15, 2020.