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the 2020 patrick conner award goes to…

December 2, 2020

We are thrilled to announce that the 2020 recipient of the Patrick Conner award is Njo Kong Kie! A ping pong and picnic enthusiast, Kong Kie is also a composer, a pianist, a music theatre creator, and a well-loved member of our family at The Theatre Centre. As an artist he thinks deeply about the nature of the world and its impact on humans who live in it.

In past years, we gathered in the cafe to celebrate the winner over lavender cookies and cocktails (Patrick loved lavender), and raise a glass to Patrick. Since that’s not possible this year, Kong Kie made a cocktail and batch of cookies from the comfort of his own home. Join him and try the recipes out for yourself.

About the Award

The Patrick Conner Award was established in 2013 to celebrate the life and work of Patrick Conner, a Toronto-based activist, actor, director and a champion of ethical food systems. This award recognizes someone who, like Patrick, works to change the world through their practice; it comes with a cash prize of $2,500.

Previous recipients include: Nikki Shaffeeullah, Thomas McKechnie, Susanna Fournier, Mariah Horner, Jennifer Dallas, Georgina Beatty, Sarah Pittoello, Aviva Armour-Ostroff, Kimberley Edwards, Lea Ambros, Taarini Chopra, James Davis, and Estelle Shook.

The Theatre Centre takes over as Stewards of the Award

The Patrick Conner Award has operated independently through a committee of individuals with a connection to Patrick for 7 years. During this time the committee raised funds and support from community players, most notably The Big Carrot on The Danforth, Theatre Rusticle and The Theatre Centre. Without the support and encouragement of these partners and many individual donors, the Award could not have flourished.

Since the 3rd year of the Award, we have celebrated recipients at The Theatre Centre. For the 5th anniversary of the Award, Toronto-based artist Rocky Dobey created a sculpture that now lives on the Green Roof at The Theatre Centre. Each year, recipient’s names are added to a plaque beside the sculpture. Since the very first meeting of the committee at the old Theatre Centre on top of the Great Hall to the present, we have felt at home. Patrick made a lot of work at The Theatre Centre. As far back as Lippincott and right up to its penultimate home, Patrick’s artistry and heart were very much part of this vibrant space. Now the time feels right to formalize that connection and transition operation of the Award to The Theatre Centre to ensure Patrick’s legacy.

As Chair and a founding member of the award, Sarah Garton Stanley shared this on behalf of the committee: “We are thrilled to make a permanent home for The Patrick Conner Award at The Theatre Centre. Patrick would have loved it, and moreover he would have been moved to poetry to know that artists and activists were being supported in his memory.”

Patrick Conner Award on the Green Roof created by Rocky Dobey
Patrick Conner Award on the Green Roof created by Rocky Dobey
Njo Kong Kie

About Kong Kie

A ping pong and picnic enthusiast. A Composer for various things. Credits include the scores for the opera/music theatre Mr. Shi and His Lover, knotty together, La Señorita Mundo, Shattered Glass; concert theatre Picnic in the Cemetery, I swallowed a moon made of iron; the play Infinity; the web series Off Kilter; and various dance productions.

About Patrick Conner

Patrick Conner (1964-2012) was a lauded Actor, Director, Dramaturg and Teacher who devoted his life to the Toronto theatre community. He was a co-founder of groundbreaking site-responsive theatre company, Die In Debt Theatre, a key collaborator with Theatre Rusticle, and a contributor to the works of VideoCabaret, Buddies In Bad Times, Threshold Theatre, and countless other companies.

Celebrate at Home with a Lavender Vodka Lemonade
and a batch of Lavender shortbread!

Patrick loved lavender and each year at the Awards ceremony we’ve offered up a batch of lavender shortbread and toasted Patrick and his life with a lavender cocktail. Our Associate Artistic Director (and resident cocktail enthusiast) Liza Paul shared the recipes with us so we can still make them at home.

Lavender Shortbread

recipe from ‘duchess bake shop’ by giselle courteau

½ cup superfine sugar
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp rice flour
½ tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 tsp dried culinary-grade lavender

you will need a food processor and a baking sheet.

– preheat your over to 275 degrees F
– line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
– place the sugar, flours, and salt in a bowl and mix together. add the cold cubed butter and, using your hands, toss until the butter is well coated.
– pulse the mixture along with the lavender in the food processor for 5 to 10 seconds, or until the texture becomes rice-like. be careful not to over-process; at this stage the mixture will look dry and shouldn’t come together as a dough.
– empty the pulsed mixture into a bowl and, using your hands, shape it firmly into a ball.
– on a lightly floured surface, roll the ball with your hands into an evenly shaped log about 2 inches thick. wrap the log in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours.
– remove the plastic wrap from the cookie log and, using a sharp knife, cut out slices about 1cm thick.
– place them about 1 inch apart on the lined baking sheet. using a fork, poke the centre of each cookie to prevent air bubbles from forming during baking.
– bake the cookies for 40 to 45 minutes, until small bubbles form on top and the cookies are slightly golden.
– immediately transfer to a cooling rack.

storage: shortbread will keep at room temperature for up to one week.

Lavender Cocktail

2 oz vodka
1 oz lavender simple syrup (recipe below)
juice of one lemon (about 4 tbsp)
3/4 cup of either regular OR sparkling water ORRRR if you want to get really fancy, you can top with prosecco. both options outlined below.

pour the vodka, lavender simple syrup, and lemon juice into a cocktail shaker. add ice and shake for 10-15 seconds.

if you’re working with regular or sparkling water, pour the entire mixture, ice and all, into a glass and top with the regular or sparkling water. use a rocks glass if you like your drink stiff and a highball if you want something a little mellower. give a quick stir and garnish with a sprig of lavender or a lemon wheel.

if you go for the bubbly, strain the mixture into a flute (keep the ice in the shaker) and top with prosecco. garnish with lavender sprigs or lemon wheel.

lavender simple syrup
1 cup water
1 cup granulated white sugar
1.5 tbsp dried lavender flowers

in a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and lavender and place over medium heat. bring the mixture to a simmer and lower the heat a bit. cook over low heat, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes at which time the sugar should have completely dissolved and the syrup started to thicken. let cool slightly and then strain the mixture through a sieve to remove the lavender. pour into an air tight container for storage. mason jar or glass bottle work best, and if you want to extend the life of the syrup, add a small splash of vodka as a preservative. the syrup will keep about two weeks in the fridge sans vodka and will still taste great in a couple of months avec.

cheers, patrick conner. bottoms up.