The Siminovitch Prize Foundation and the National Arts Centre today announced the shortlist for this year’s award in the category of playwriting. The jury has selected four outstanding playwrights as finalists for the esteemed theatre prize, now celebrating its 17th year of honouring excellence and innovation in Canadian theatre.
“The four finalists for the 2017 Siminovitch Prize are playwrights and theatre-makers of the first order. Their extraordinary, idiosyncratic visions of what transpires on stage have already created transcendent experiences for audiences across the country,” said Jury Chair Bob White. “Their passionate belief in the power of theatre to not only celebrate the human experience but also challenge our ways of looking at the world is inspiring. Furthermore, the jury was thrilled by the abundance of award-worthy work that all the 2017 nominees had created and we all left the jury table confident that the future of Canadian theatre was indeed bright in the hands of all these remarkable artists.”
The 2017 Nominees for Playwriting
Evelyne de la Chenelière
Writer and actor Evelyne de la Chenelière was born in Montreal in 1975. A former member of the Nouveau Théâtre Expérimental, the company co-founded by Jean‑Pierre Ronfard, she approaches playwriting as a research laboratory, a creative workshop where she develops a score destined for the stage, a text written to inhabit the actors’ bodies. Her plays, produced (in the original French and in translation) in Quebec, across Canada and around the world, are also literary works in their own right, and investigate the ways language shapes thought and expression. Lumières, lumières, lumières, premiered in October 2014 and directed by Denis Marleau, launched Evelyne’s three-year artistic residency at ESPACE GO, where her unique process includes writing on one of the theatre’s interior walls.
Hannah is an acclaimed Canadian playwright, librettist and screenwriter. Her work for the stage includes East of Berlin, The Russian Play, Little One, This is War, Infinity, What a Young Wife Ought to Know, Bunny and Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story (with Ben Caplan & Christian Barry). Her plays have been produced across Canada as well as in the United States, Britain, Ireland, Greece, Austria, Germany, Japan and Australia. She’s won multiple awards for her work, including the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play, the SummerWorks Performance Festival Prize for Production, the Toronto Critic’s Award for Best New Canadian Play, the Trillium Book Award (Hannah is the only playwright to win the honour in the Award’s 29 year history) and the prestigious international Windham-Campbell Prize administered by the Beinecke Library at Yale University. She is a playwright-in-residence at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto.
Donna Michelle St. Bernard
Donna-Michelle St. Bernard aka Belladonna the Blest is an emcee, playwright, administrator and agitator. Works for the stage include Sound of the Beast, They Say He Fell, A Man A Fish, Cake, The House You Build, Salome’s Clothes, Gas Girls and interdisciplinary co-creation 501: Toronto in Transit with Bob Nasmith and Justin Manyfingers. Her work has been recognized with a SATA nomination, Herman Voaden Playwriting Award, Enbridge PlayRites Award, Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play, and two nominations for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Recent publishing achievements include guest editing for Canadian Theatre Review and alt.theatre magazine, as well as co-editing Playwrights Canada Press anthologies Refractions: Solo, Refractions: Scenes and Indian Act (upcoming). She is Emcee-in-Residence at Theatre Passe Muraille, Playwright-in-Residence at lemonTree creations and a vocalist with Ergo Sum. Upcoming: Cake at Theatre Passe Muraille in fall 2017.
Marcus Youssef has written and co-written some of Canada’s best-known theatrical investigations of otherness and difference, including Winners and Losers, King Arthur’s Night, Leftovers, How Has My Love Affected You?, Ali & Ali, Chloe’s Choice, Everyone, Adrift, Peter Panties, Jabber and A Line in the Sand. His works have been performed across North America, Australia and Europe, and published by Talonbooks and Playwrights Canada Press. Awards: Canada Council Lynch-Staunton Award, Rio-Tinto Alcan Performing Arts Award, Chalmers Award, Arts Club Silver Commission, Vancouver Critics' Choice (three times), a Governor General’s Literary nomination, and numerous Jessie Richardson Awards, Dora Mavor Moore Awards, Montreal English Theatre Awards and nominations. Marcus is Artistic Director of Vancouver’s Neworld Theatre, and co-founder of the artist-run production centre, PL1422. In 2016 and 2017 he was Senior Playwright-in-Residence at the Banff Playwrights Colony. Marcus is Editorial Advisor to Canadian Theatre Review, Canadian Fellow to the International Society for Performing Arts and Adjunct Professor of Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia.
The celebration begins with a reception for the finalists on Monday, October 16, 2017 at University of Toronto Hart House. The celebration will be co-hosted by two acclaimed Canadian theatre artists – novelist and playwright Ann-Marie Macdonald and director and dramaturge Jackie Maxwell. The University of Toronto has been a proud partner of the Siminovitch Prize since its inception.
The 2017 Siminovitch Prize will be awarded at a ceremony taking place on Monday, November 6, 2017 at the National Arts Centre.
The Siminovitch Prize of $100,000 is Canada’s largest national theatre award. Rotating over a three-year cycle, it honours professional directors, playwrights and designers. The Prize recognizes exceptional theatre artists and also encourages emerging talent by highlighting the importance of mentorship. Recipients of the award receive $75,000 and choose a protégé to receive $25,000. The Siminovitch Prize Foundation is proud to have expanded its original mandate, and since 2015 has awarded $5,000 to each of the finalists.TD Bank continues its partnership with the Siminovitch Prize by sponsoring the Protege Prize.
The 2017 jury is comprised of chair Bob White, Nathalie Bonjour, Jessie Mill, Vanessa Porteous and Emma Tibaldo.
“The Siminovitch Prize in Theatre was created in honour of my parents’ commitment to excellence both in the arts and in science. The Prize rewards outstanding theatre artists with recognition and resources that are transformational to their careers and, by extension, to our national culture,” said Dr. Kathy Siminovitch, Board Chair. “This year is particularly meaningful for our family as the Prize shines a light on playwriting, my late mother’s passion and métier. The depth and range of nominations this year was exceptional and my family and the Board of Directors of the Siminovitch Prize Foundation are grateful for the effort and dedication displayed by the Jury throughout this challenging selection process.”
This year marks the continuation of two successful partnerships, which began in 2016 between the Siminovitch Prize, the National Arts Centre, and TD Bank, which supports the Protege Prize. The NAC acts as a catalyst for performance, creation and learning across the country. Furthering the tradition of mentorship within the Prize, a group of playwriting students from both the Anglophone and Francophone programs of the National Theatre School of Canada will attend the ceremony and participate in workshops with nominees of the Prize.
Both the NAC’s English Theatre and French Theatre are led by Siminovitch Prize laureates – Jillian Keiley (2004) and Brigitte Haentjens (2007). In fact, since the Prize’s inception in 2001, works from all sixteen laureates have graced the national stage at the NAC.
The Siminovitch Prize shines a spotlight on excellence and innovation in Canadian theatre with an annual prize of $100,000. Over a three-year cycle, the Prize celebrates a professional director, playwright or designer, an acknowledged leader in the theatre whose work is transformative and influential. The Siminovitch Prize also encourages and supports emerging talent with a protégé prize awarded to a theatre artist chosen by the recipient. The Prize was launched in 2000 to honour the values and achievements of the renowned scientist Lou Siminovitch and his late wife Elinore Siminovitch, a pioneering playwright. The 2015 Prize was awarded to designer Anick La Bissonnière and protégé Marilène Bastien. In 2016 the Siminovitch Prize also celebrates its 16-year partnership with the University of Toronto.