October 26, 2004
TORONTO – BMO Financial Group today announced that Newfoundland director Jillian Keiley was named the 2004 recipient of the Elinore & Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, Canada’s richest annual theatre award. The Jury selected Ms. Keiley from 59 directors, nominated from every region in Canada. The announcement was made during a ceremony at University of Toronto’s historic Hart House Theatre.
The Jury described Ms. Keiley’s work as “startlingly original and radically imaginative”. According to the jury citation, she is a “visionary, innovative artist whose experiments with form and content have magical results for audiences and performers alike. Simultaneously cerebral and visceral, her productions explore the parameters of theatre art, often with powerful effect”.
Ms. Keiley is the founding Artistic Director of Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland, where she has directed 14 new productions, almost all of which were original scripts and scores created for the company by playwright Robert Chafe and composer Petrina Bromley. For the past 10 years, Ms. Keiley has been working with Artistic Fraud to develop a unique, mathematic and music-based choreography and directing system called Kaleidography. Ms. Keiley has been teaching this new system at universities and professional training institutes across the country for the past six years. She also directs for other local companies, most recently Theatre Newfoundland Labrador’s Tempting Providence, and Jack 5-Oh, produced by Sheila’s Brush Theatre Company. Ms. Keiley teaches theatre with a specialization in chorus at Memorial University and The National Theatre School of Canada.
The Jury was chaired by Leonard McHardy, co-owner and co-founder of Theatrebooks in Toronto. Joining Mr. McHardy were Marie-Hélène Falcon, (Montréal, QC), Co-founder, Director General and Artistic Director of the Festival de Théâtre des Amériques; Robert Wallace, (Toronto, ON), Playwright and Professor of English and Drama Studies, York University; Mary Walsh, (St. John’s, NF), Director, Playwright and Actress; and Bob White, (Calgary, AB), Artistic Director of Calgary’s Alberta Theatre Projects.
“The Jury had an extraordinary field of directors to discuss this year before identifying five exceptional directors to be placed on the short list,” said Mr. McHardy. “Ms. Keiley’s remarkably novel approach to theatre creation allowed the Jury to choose her as the ideal recipient. “
Tony Comper, President and CEO of BMO Financial Group, the founding sponsor of the Siminovitch Prize, applauded the selection. “On behalf of BMO Financial Group, a long-time supporter of the arts in Canada, I am thrilled to congratulate Ms. Keiley on this outstanding achievement. The Siminovitch Prize is meant to encourage Canadian artists to go further in the pursuit of their crafts – to put wind in their sails to foster creativity and innovation. And, just as importantly, it’s meant to celebrate theatre in Canada and the talented artists who, like Ms. Keiley, comprise this vibrant community.”
Ms. Keiley was awarded a cheque for $75,000 and her protégé, fellow Newfoundland director, Danielle Irvine, received $25,000. The prize founders have structured the Siminovitch Prize in this way to underscore the importance of mentorship in Canadian theatre.
In addition to the Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, Ms. Keiley has also won the Canada Council’s 1997 John Hirsch Prize for emerging directors and was named the 1996 Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council’s Emerging Artist of the Year.
Ms. Keiley’s protégé, Ms. Irvine, has directed more than 50 productions and has been teaching at the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal for the last four years. She has worked at the Stratford Festival of Canada for two seasons both in the main company and as the first director to go through their Conservatory for Classical Theatre Training. She was the 1999 recipient of the Canada Council’s John Hirsch Prize for directing and was a participant in the World Stage Festival 2000’s Master Class for Directors.
The five finalists were selected from 59 Canadian directors who received nominations, the largest number of nominees ever to be considered for this prize. The finalists are: Lois Brown (St. John’s, NF), Martin Faucher (Montréal, QC), Eric Jean (Montréal, QC), Jillian Keiley (St. John’s, NF) and Alisa Palmer (Toronto, ON).
The Siminovitch Prize in Theatre was introduced in 2001 and dedicated to renowned scientist Lou Siminovitch and his late wife Elinore, a playwright. Sponsored by BMO Financial Group, Canada’s richest annual theatre arts award recognizes direction, playwriting and design in three-year cycles, beginning with the 2001 award to director Daniel Brooks; the 2002 award to playwright Carole Fréchette; and the 2003 award to designer Louise Campeau.
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