In 2006 a group of professional theatre artists based in and around Saskatoon got together to talk about a way to recognize, encourage and applaud the excellent work that fellow professionals were creating for our audiences. To do so, we looked around the country at various other theatre awards such as the Sterlings, the Jessies, and the Doras, and custom fit these ideas to our own parameters given the uniqueness of our particular community.
From the outset, our goal was not to compare one piece of theatre to another, but to show appreciation to productions, performances, and so on, that moved us. For this reason, there is no ‘Best’ of anything in our awards, only ‘Outstanding’, much like the Off-Broadway award, the Obies. We feel that this approach will help to keep the focus on celebration. On some occasions, the jury may choose to award elements under a special category in order to recognize work that may not occur often enough to warrant its own category.
For the inaugural SATAwards in 2007-2008 a jury, composed of theatre practitioners, patrons, media, and sponsors from various backgrounds, was gathered with the duty of attending all of that year’s eligible productions, make notes, form opinions and meet in the early fall to chose the recipients of the awards. All awards were chosen through the deliberation of the jury except for the Continuing Achievement Award, which was chosen through public nomination and voted upon by the SATAward Steering Committee.
The SATAwards have already assisted theatre artists and the arts community in and around Saskatoon through increased publicity and validation of their work. Shortly after receiving four SATAwards for The Selkie Wife, Kelley Jo Burke learned that her play was to be published by Scirocco Drama. The awards were also covered in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, which helped to spread the word about Saskatoon’s strong and exciting theatre scene.
In response to the overwhelmingly successful event of September 2008, the Second Annual SATAwards Gala was announced on August 5, 2009. During the theatre season (September 1 2008 – August 31 2009), the committee and jury were busy seeing professional theatre in Saskatoon and area, and they met in late August to choose the theatre artists who would receive recognition at this year’s awards. The awards handed out recognized outstanding achievement in performance, directing, design, playwriting, and production.