Tarragon Theatre and RBC Foundation are pleased to announce that the winner of this year’s RBC Tarragon Emerging Playwright Prize is Cliff Cardinal. 

Cliff Cardinal - Headshot

After soliciting nominations for the prize from artistic directors across Canada and an extensive review process, Tarragon’s artistic staff – Richard Rose, Artistic Director, Andrea Donaldson, Assistant Artistic Director and Andrea Romaldi, Literary Manager – named Cardinal the Prize winner.  Tarragon extends its gratitude to those artistic directors who participated in this year’s nomination process:  Bob Baker (Citadel Theatre), Charlie Rhindress (Eastern Front Theatre), Steven Schipper (Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre), Roy Surette (Centaur Theatre), Del Surjik (Persephone Theatre) and Jillian Keiley, (NAC English Theatre) who put forward Cardinal as a nominee.  Tarragon relies on our colleagues across the country for their insight and support, and looks forward to working with a wide variety of nominators from every part of Canada over the lifetime of this Prize.

As the winner, Cardinal receives a cash prize of $8,000 as well as a year’s worth of dramaturgy at Tarragon Theatre, followed by a presentation as part of Tarragon Theatre’s Play Reading Week in May 2016.  He has this to say of his win:

“I’m really excited for this opportunity to develop a new play with Tarragon. Thanks to my dramaturge, Karin Randoja, RBC, and everyone who worked to administer this award.”

Cliff Cardinal’s play Stitch debuted in SummerWorks 2011, winning both The Spotlight Award for Performance, as well as Theatre Passe Muraille’s Emerging Artist Award for the script’s notable artistic impression. For Huff, about the wondrous lives of three brothers caught in a torrent of solvent abuse and struggling to cope with the death of their mother, Cardinal won the Buddies in Bad Times Vanguard Award for Risk and Innovation at SummerWorks 2012.  Huff recently completed a National Tour including presentations at The Push International Performing Arts Festival, The Magnetic North Theatre Festival and the Pivot Theatre Festival, and closed the studio season at the National Arts Centre in May 2014.  Another play of Cardinal’s, Maria Gets A New Life, debuted at SummerWorks 2013. “This captivating tale of an off-grid mother solidifies Cardinal as one of the most talented and intriguing writers in the country.” –NOW MAGAZINE.  Cardinal concluded his studies in playwriting at the National Theatre School of Canada this past May, and is completing work on a music project: Cliff Cardinal and The Skylarks – This Is Not A Mistake.

The RBC Tarragon Emerging Playwrights’ Prize is generously supported by RBC. For six years, RBC has supported Tarragon’s Emerging Playwright’s Competition through the RBC Emerging Artists Project. The RBC Emerging Artists Project supports up-and-coming artists to help them gain national recognition for their talent as they bridge the gap from academic world to professional career.

“At RBC, we feel that the arts encourage a culture of creativity and innovation and our goal is to provide emerging artists a boost to their careers through award programs like the RBC Tarragon Emerging Playwright Prize,” said Valerie Chort, Vice President, Corporate Citizenship, RBC. “We congratulate Cliff on this award and wish him continued success as his writing career continues to flourish.”

Previous recipients of the Tarragon RBC Playwrights’ Competition have benefited greatly from their year of mentorship and support offered by Tarragon Theatre. Playwrights have continued their success by winning additional awards, travelling the country working with distinguished Playwrights Unit, and – perhaps most importantly – showcasing their work onstage within Canada and internationally.



Tarragon Theatre is one of Canada’s most important arts institutions. For 45 years, Tarragon Theatre has created, developed and produced new plays by home-grown artists as well as significant works from the world stage, vitally contributing to the important legacy of a Canadian culture. Since its founding, over 190 works have premiered at Tarragon and over 500 scripts have been created and workshopped, receiving 34 nominations and 11 wins for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Tarragon received the 2012 Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in recognition of producing and developing leading edge and thought-provoking Canadian Theatre, both nationally and on the world stage. Richard Rose has been the Artistic Director since 2002. For more information visit www.tarragontheatre.com.


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