Prize awarded Friday, October 28 at the National Arts Centre
Director Nadia Ross has been named the 2016 recipient of the Siminovitch Prize, Canada’s most prestigious prize in Theatre. This year marks the 16th year of the Prize, which was celebrated at a ceremony earlier today in the Studio of the National Arts Centre, hosted by Daniel MacIvor and Geneviève Leclerc. As a part of the $100,000 prize, Ms Ross receives $75,000 and Sarah Conn and Shaista Latif, whom Ms Ross has chosen as her protégées, will share $25,000 between them.
This year, given the exceptionally high quality of nominations, the jury unanimously decided to expand their selection from four to five outstanding directors as finalists. Ms Ross was one of five talented directors on this year’s shortlist, which also included Jonathan Christenson, Ravi Jain, Christian Lapointe and Ross Manson.
“Despite an incredibly talented pool of finalists, the jury unanimously selected Nadia as the laureate,” said Jury Chair Bob White. “We felt the integrity of her work, her profound vision for the theatre, and her fierce spirit best reflected the aspirations of the Siminovitch Prize.”
Nadia Ross is the Founder and Artistic Director of STO Union, a company dedicated to the creation of New Performance and theatre works for the stage. Founded in 1992 in Toronto, STO Union has grown into a touring company, presenting original Canadian work at festivals in Canada and across four continents internationally. In 2005, she left Toronto to live in the Outaouais, the region in which she was born. Her work is characterized by immediacy and intimacy, with a focus on dramaturgy that is thoroughly researched and located within historical narratives of power and politics. She has always explored and pushed accepted boundaries and has been described as being “a forerunner of the international post-dramatic movement in Canada”. She is a recipient of a Chalmers Award, Dora Mavor Moore Award (ensemble artist) and Contra Guys Award.
“To be recognized by the Siminovitch Prize for directing is life-changing. I am most grateful to the Siminovitch family and to the jury who selected me,” acknowledged Ms Ross. “I am also delighted to help support the next generation with the additional protégé award. Thank you so much for this incredible gift.”
This year, Ms Ross selected two protégées, Sarah Conn and Shaista Latif. Ms Conn is STO Union’s Artistic Producer and one of the company’s collaborative artists. She creates and performs in plays, performance installations, site-specific theatre and live art, and has had her work presented at some of the top contemporary theatre festivals in Canada. Ms Latif is a queer Afghan-Canadian writer, performer and facilitator, whose work is primarily based in solo creation/performance and live art. Her play Graceful Rebellions has been presented at the Rhubarb Festival, Halifax Queer Acts Festival, SummerWorks and the NAC’S Ontario Scene Festival.
Describing their reactions to hearing they were both chosen as Ms Ross’ protégées, Ms Latif stated, “To make theatre is to resist the known, to remain curious and to find illusions in stories made between yesterday and tomorrow. I thank the Siminovitch family for their legacy of resilience and support.” Ms Conn added, “I am so grateful for the mentors and artists who inspire, challenge and support me, and through this incredible recognition, I hope to give back to my community as much as I have received.”
“By providing its recipients with the freedom to pursue their dreams and unique visions, the Siminovitch Prize has profoundly influenced their lives and careers and enriched the cultural landscape for all Canadians,” said Dr. Kathy Siminovitch, Board Chair. “The five Finalists for the 2016 Siminovitch Prize in theatre directing are all characterized by the ability to disrupt the status quo and challenge our understanding of humanity and we are delighted to support these outstanding Canadian theatre artists with the help of our partners, the National Arts Centre and the University of Toronto, our sponsors, TD Bank and Tricon, and the many Friends of the Siminovitch Prize.”
This year, the Siminovitch Prize launched a new partnership with the National Arts Centre, which acts as a catalyst for performance, creation and learning across the country. The only bilingual, multi-disciplinary performing arts centre in Canada, the National Arts Centre is home to NAC English Theatre and French Theatre, which together play a national role in developing, co-producing and showcasing theatrical works in collaboration with theatre-makers across Canada. In addition, the NAC recently announced a major new emphasis on creation to benefit artists and arts organizations across Canada who are creating ambitious new work for national and international audiences, as well as the creation of an Indigenous Theatre department that will launch in 2019.
“The National Arts Centre is honoured to be partnering with this important national theatre award, and we congratulate Nadia Ross on being this year’s outstanding recipient,” said NAC President and CEO Peter Herrndorf.
Both the English and French Theatre at the NAC 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 past fifteen laureates have graced the national stage at the NAC.
Also new this year is an alliance with the National Theatre School of Canada. NTS is the preeminent Canadian theatre school, offering high-level, rigorous professional training programs in acting, production, set and costume design, playwriting, and directing, in both official languages. NTS trains passionate leaders who will shape the future of theatre in Canada and abroad. Building upon the Siminovitch Prize’s focus on mentorship, the NAC will bring together nominees and students of the National Theatre School for a series of workshops and podcast discussions around this fall’s festivities.
ABOUT THE SIMINOVITCH PRIZE
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.
ABOUT THE NAC
The NAC is a home for some of Canada’s most creative artists, and where the most exciting emerging and established artists perform on its national stage. As part of its Strategic Plan, the NAC recently announced a major new emphasis on creation to benefit artists and arts organizations across Canada who are creating ambitious new work for national and international audiences. The National Arts Centre (NAC) is the only bilingual, multi-disciplinary performing arts centre in Canada and one of the largest in the world. The NAC presents more than 1,000 performances a year in Music, Dance, Theatre, and Contemporary Music. The NAC’s mandate is to work with artists and arts organizations across the country to support the performing arts everywhere and to create a national stage.
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