What are the Dora Awards?

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Every year, theatre lovers are treated to one of the world’s top award shows, the Tonys. Here we get to see great musical numbers from the season’s top Broadway hits, and to also see our favourite theatre professionals dressed in their best. For some of us, this fills our appetite. For others, perhaps this has raised a question in your head: does Canada have their own award show like the Tony’s? Yes and no, yes because we do have a well received awards show for theatre. But no, because there is at least one theatre award show in each province with higher concentrations of theatre servicing the public. From BC, to Alberta, Ontario and out east, there is more than 5! But for today, we will focus on the award show that takes place in Toronto every year, the Dora awards.

The name

To understand the Dora awards, we must learn how the name came about. The Dora awards are named after one of Canada’s finest theatre pioneers, Dora Mavor Moore. She was the first Canadian to be accepted into London’s acclaimed theatre school, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1912. She is also known for being a big contributor to Canada’s theatre scene early on in its existence.

In 1938, she formed an amateur theatre group called Village Players who traveled to high schools across Ontario performing Shakespeare plays. She was also part of creating the New Play Society in 1946—this was the first professional theatre company in Toronto, and assisted in forming what we know today as the Stratford Shakespeare Festival! She was even made an Officer of the Order of Canada for her years of contributing to Canadian theatre. It’s safe to say the name for the theatre awards in Toronto was chosen wisely.

The awards

Now, for the award. The Dora awards were established on December 13th, 1978 to honour Toronto’s theatre scene every year. The award is presented annually by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts with a wide range of categories. The categories are: General Theatre, Opera, Dance , Independent Theatre, and Young Audience. They also give out Ancillary Awards which recognize the great work done by theatre professionals.

Though this years event has already past, you can check here to see the winners and nominees from this past season.

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