For most its 43-year history, Kanata Theatre has recognized outstanding local students who have shown a talent for the stage.

Initially the prize was a book given to the graduating student at the Earl of March Secondary School, which is where Kanata Theatre was based at the time. As A.Y. Jackson, Holy Trinity and then other secondary schools with drama programs opened in the former City of Kanata, the community theatre group did not hesitate to include them in its program.

Even before amalgamation of the western municipalities, Kanata Theatre had extended the awards to West Carleton in Dunrobin and Sacred Heart in Stittsville. The latest school to be added is All Saints Secondary School. Kanata Theatre also increased the value of the awards: the latest increase brings it up to $500 per recipient.

The awards are in keeping with one of Kanata Theatre’s favourite objectives, that of encouraging the art and craft of theatre in young people. Programming, training and activities that include young people are other ways the group pursues this objective. Young people are an important component of the life of the Ron Maslin Playhouse. Indeed, the thirteen people at the initial meeting of Kanata Theatre included two teenagers, who became the opening actors in our first production. Young people can be seen at every performance working front-of-house, and they are active backstage and on-stage. Since the beginning of Kanata Theatre, a student member has been on the board of directors.

The award is now known as the Kanata Theatre Mary Mauger award, in honour of the founder of Kanata Theatre.