Thompson, Judith

 Judith Claire Francesca Marie Bernadette Thompson, playwright (b at Montréal 20 Sept 1954). Judith Thompson has created a body of powerfully visceral, poetic and challenging dramatic work that has received production widely both in Canada and beyond. After graduating with a BA in English from Queen's University (1976) and the acting program at the National Theatre School (1979), she turned to writing as an extension of the way that she had created characters in mask-exercises. In 1990 she began teaching in the theatre studies program at the University of Guelph.

Judith Thompson's first play, The Crackwalker (1980), produced at Toronto's THEATRE PASSE MURAILLE, was an extraordinarily bold and yet compassionate depiction of marginalized characters living in Kingston. Its climactic infanticide created controversy around the play, but it is Thompson's rich, pulsing verbal command and rhythms that make it her landmark work. Her second play, White Biting Dog, premiered at TARRAGON THEATRE, which subsequently produced the premieres of I am Yours (1987), Lion in the Streets (1990), Sled (1997), Perfect Pie (2000) and Capture Me (2004). A witty black comedy about a splintered family, White Biting Dog won the writer her first GOVERNOR GENERAL'S AWARD for Drama.

I Am Yours (1987), an intense play about class warfare centring around the struggle for possession of a newborn infant, was the keystone of a collection of plays, The Other Side of the Dark, that won a second Governor General's Award for Thompson in 1990. Lion in the Streets (1990), an epic portrait of urban tension, has a tag-team structure: a character from one scene enters into the next with a completely different social group to reveal the long fuse of violent action.

Outside of her long association with Tarragon Theatre and Urjo KAREDA, its artistic director until his death in 2001, Thompson in 1991 adapted and directed Henrick Ibsen's classic Hedda Gabler for the SHAW FESTIVAL, and she revised the adaptation for a new production by Volcano Theatre at BUDDIES IN BAD TIMES THEATRE in 2005. Her NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) play, Habitat, was commissioned by Toronto's CanStage and premiered there in 2001. Since then, Thompson has re-established her connections to Toronto's experimental theatre scene, producing My Pyramids, or How I got Fired From the Dairy Queen and Ended Up at Abu Ghraib, by Pvt. Lyndie England with Volcano Theatre at Factory Studio Theatre in 2004 (and subsequently at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh in 2005), and Enoch Arden, by Alfred Lord Jabber and his Catatonic Songstress at the Summerworks Festival in 2004 and Toronto's Theatre Centre in 2005.

Thompson's plays have been produced in English-speaking countries throughout the world and translated into several languages; they have received numerous citations and awards. Thompson herself has extended her energies to radio drama, screenplays, teleplays, plays for young audiences, and also to teaching and directing. Among her award-winning screenplays are Perfect Pie (2002), directed by Barbara Wills Sweete, and the cult hit Lost and Delirious (2001), directed by Léa POOL.

In 2005, Judith Thompson was named an officer of the ORDER OF CANADA. In 2007 she won the CANADA COUNCIL's Walter Carson Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts, recognizing the highest level of artistic excellence and distinguished career achievement.