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The Siminovitch Prize in Theatre Announces 2018 Shortlist for Designers

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A celebration for finalists takes place Monday, October 15 at Hart House, University of Toronto. Recipient to be announced Monday, November 5 at the National Arts Centre.

The Siminovitch Prize Foundation and the National Arts Centre today announced the shortlist for this year’s award in the category of design. The jury has selected four outstanding designers as finalists for the esteemed theatre prize, now celebrating its 18th year of honouring excellence and innovation in Canadian theatre.

“These four artists embody the future-focused spirit of the Siminovitch Prize. Though still very much in the midst of their journey, they have already made their mark on audiences, peers, and the art form itself,” said Jury Chair Vanessa Porteous. “These are four inquiring, curious, even restless spirits. They undertake an active investigation every time they set to work. They are gaining significant momentum as creative forces, and their impact is felt both within their field of specialization and well beyond.”

The 2018 Finalists for Design

Itai Erdal
An award-winning lighting designer, writer and performer, Itai is the artistic director of Elbow Theatre in Vancouver. Itai has designed lighting for over 250 shows, for companies such as the Stratford Festival (10 productions), Vancouver Opera, Vancouver Playhouse, Arts Club Theatre, Bard on the Beach, Tarragon Theatre, Soulpepper, Factory Theatre, Citadel Theatre and the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, as well as companies in London, New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, Rotterdam, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Salvador, Brazil. He has won four Jessie Richardson Awards, the Jack King Award, a Dora Mavor Moore Award, Victoria’s Spotlight Choice Award, a Guthrie Award and the Design Award at the Dublin Fringe Festival. Itai’s one-man show How to Disappear Completely (The Chop, directed by James Long) has had 24 remounts in 19 cities and continues to tour nationally and internationally. He has also co-written and performed in A Very Narrow Bridge, This Is Not a Conversation and Hyperlink for Elbow Theatre.

Stéphanie Jasmin
UBU co-artistic director Stéphanie Jasmin has a degree in art history from the École du Louvre in Paris, with a specialty in contemporary art, and a BA in filmmaking from Concordia University in Montreal. On joining the company in 2000, she began contributing her knowledge of visual arts and her command of the language of video and film to Denis Marleau’s ongoing exploration of new technologies. In addition to acting as artistic collaborator and/or co-director, she has designed the video for more than 30 UBU productions and designed the sets for more than half of them. She has written and directed two original stage plays, a portrait of sculptor Michel Goulet (Éditions Varia, 2007) and a number of specialized texts on the theatre. Since 2005, she has also been working as a dramaturg with several Quebec women choreographers. She regularly hosts creative workshops in Montreal and Europe.

Camellia Koo
Camellia is a Toronto-based designer for theatre, opera and dance. Recent theatre collaborations include designs for Cahoots Theatre Projects, Factory Theatre, Shaw Festival, Stratford Festival, National Arts Centre and Tarragon Theatre. Opera collaborations include designs for Against the Grain, Boston Lyric Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Edmonton Opera, Helikon Opera (Moscow), Minnesota Opera, Pacific Opera Victoria and Tapestry New Opera. She is a graduate of Ryerson Theatre School and Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Camellia has received six Dora Mavor Moore Awards (Toronto), a Sterling Award (Edmonton), a Chalmers Award Grant, shared the 2006 Siminovitch Protégé Prize, Third Prize Team 2011 European Opera Directing Prize, and the 2016 Virginia and Myrtle Cooper Award for Costume Design. Upcoming projects include designs for Hansel and Gretel (Edmonton Opera), Shawnadithit (Tapestry New Opera), La Bohème (Santa Fe Opera) and The Mahabharata (Why Not/Shaw Festival).

Alexander MacSween
Alexander MacSween is a Montreal-based sound designer, composer and musician. He has worked with Alberta Theatre Projects, Marie Brassard, Daniel Brooks, Brigitte Haentjens, François Girard, Robert Lepage, Necessary Angel, Le Nouveau Théâtre Experimental and the Stratford Festival, where he recently completed his sixth season. Alexander also teaches workshops in live sound processing for the performing arts and works regularly as a design coach in both language sections of the National Theatre School of Canada. He is the recipient of numerous grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and Le Conseil des arts et lettres du Québec. He has won the Prix Gascon-Roux for outstanding music and sound design and has been twice nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award in that same category. Upcoming projects include productions by Human Cargo, Soulpepper and Porte Parole, as well as Marie Brassard’s new solo show, An Introduction to Violence.

The celebration begins with a reception for the finalists on Monday, October 15, 2018 at the University of Toronto’s Hart House, hosted by Jani Lauzon with Siminovitch Prize laureates Anick La Bissonnière (2015) and Marcus Youssef (2017).The University of Toronto has been a proud partner of the Siminovitch Prize since its inception.

The 2018 Siminovitch Prize will be awarded at a ceremony taking place on Monday, November 5, 2018 at the National Arts Centre, hosted by playwright, novelist and songwriter Tomson Highway.

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 at mid-career 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 Protégé Prize.

The 2018 jury is comprised of chair Vanessa Porteous, Carmen Alatorre, Olivier Kemeid, Anita Rochon and Joey Tremblay.

“On behalf of the Siminovitch Prize Board, I am delighted to congratulate the remarkable designers short-listed for this year’s Siminovitch Prize in theatre,” said Dr. Kathy Siminovitch, Board Chair. “We are proud that the Prize shines a spotlight on the accomplishments of these outstanding Canadian artists whose work exemplifies the theatrical spirit of imagination and creativity. The depth and range of nominations this year was impressive and I commend members of this year’s jury, chaired by Vanessa Porteous, for the effort and dedication they displayed throughout this challenging selection process.”

This year marks the continuation of a successful partnership, which began in 2016 between the Siminovitch Prize and the National Arts Centre. 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 design 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 seventeen laureates have graced the national stage at the NAC.

Twitter: @SiminovitchPrix
Hashtag: #SiminovitchPrize

As noted above, over a three-year cycle, the Siminovitch Prize celebrates a professional director, playwright or designer who is an acknowledged leader in the theatre and whose work is transformative and influential. The 2017 Prize was awarded to playwright Marcus Youssef and protégée Christine Quintana. Past laureates include celebrated designers Anick La Bissonnière in 2015, Robert Thomson in 2012, Ronnie Burkett in 2009, Dany Lyne in 2006 and Louise Campeau in 2003.

The National Arts Centre is a home for Canada’s most creative artists. As the only bilingual, multi-disciplinary performing arts centre in the country 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. Operating under the banner, “Canada is our stage,” the NAC works with artists and arts organizations across the country to create a national stage for the performing arts. The NAC is home to a unique combination of national theatre companies: NAC English Theatre, NAC French Theatre, and NAC Indigenous Theatre.