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February 28, 2002

Toronto, Ontario – Award-winning director Bill Glassco was today named Chair of the Jury that will select this year’s winner of the Elinore & Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre. The $100,000 prize – the largest in Canadian theatre – will be presented this year to a Canadian playwright who has “made a significant contribution to theatre in Canada.” Mr. Glassco, a native of Quebec City, founded Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre, was founding co-artistic director of Canadian Stage and, most recently, founded the Montreal Young Company.

Tony Comper, Chairman and CEO of Bank of Montreal, the title sponsor of the Siminovitch Prize, applauded the choice of Mr. Glassco. “There isn’t an aspect of theatre in Canada – in French or in English – that Bill hasn’t seen and influenced. We’re delighted and honoured that he has agreed to lead this jury.”

The names of the four other distinguished members of the Canadian theatre community who will sit on the Jury were also announced today. They are:

Nicola Lipman – one of Atlantic Canada’s most distinguished actors, who has performed on stage from coast to coast, as well as on television and radio

Leonard McHardy – an actor and director, and co-owner/co-founder of Toronto-based TheatreBooks Ltd., a leading source for books on the performing arts in Canada

John Murrell – a Calgary playwright whose works have been translated into 15 languages and performed in more than 30 countries, and Artistic Director/Executive Producer of Theatre Arts at The Banff Centre

Maryse Warda – a literary translator, who has been active in Montreal theatre for more than 10 years and introduced French audiences to numerous works by English Canadian writers through productions at Montreal’s Théâtre de Quat’Sous

“My colleagues and I have an awesome responsibility,” said Mr. Glassco. “There is such a depth and range of talented Canadian playwrights right across the country. It will be a wonderful challenge, if impossible task, to single out just one for this prize.”

The Jury will receive nominations of Canadian playwrights “in mid career who, through a body of work, have made a significant contribution to theatre in Canada.” The jurors will assess the nominees’ “originality, sense of evolution, growing maturity, continuing experimentation, impact upon audiences, and/or influence upon younger artists.” They will also consider whether the artist is at a point in his or her professional career where the “recognition and resources associated with the prize will make a significant difference, allowing and encouraging the artist to go further in the pursuit of his or her craft.”

Anyone can submit a nomination for the prize. Nomination forms are available at most performing arts theatres in Canada and online at www.siminovitchprize.com. The deadline for nominations is May 31, and the prize will be awarded on October 28.

Saluting the creation of the Siminovitch Prize, playwright Yvette Nolan, Past President of the Playwrights Union of Canada, said the award not only recognizes the artist’s contribution to theatrical life, but “recognizes the artist’s contribution to the fabric of Canadian life, of which theatre is and has been an integral part. Bank of Montreal’s support of a prize this rich and this meaningful shows an understanding of the role of art in contributing to the quality of life in Canada.”

The prize was introduced last year and dedicated to renowned scientist Lou Siminovitch and his late wife Elinore, a playwright. “The prize celebrates Elinore and Lou’s shared passion for excellence and their lifelong encouragement of others,” said Mr. Comper. “The ideals of excellence and mentorship are ones that we at Bank of Montreal value highly.”

The prize is awarded in alternate years to playwrights, designers and directors. The winner receives $100,000, of which $25,000 is awarded a protégé or organization of the winner’s choice. Last year, the inaugural year for the award, the prize was presented to a director, Daniel Brooks – described by last year’s Jury Chair, Urjo Kareda, as one of the brightest lights in the Canadian theatre spectrum – and to Mr. Brooks’ protégé, Chris Abraham. With Mr. Abraham assisting, Mr. Brooks is currently directing the production of his own play, The Good Life, which opens in Toronto on March 5.

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