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Five Canadian Directors Make Short-List for 2004 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre

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September 27, 2004

TORONTO – The Elinore & Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre and founding sponsor, BMO Financial Group, announced today that five Canadian directors have been placed on the short-list for the $100,000 prize, the largest in Canadian theatre. The Prize will be presented October 26, 2004.

The five finalists were selected from 59 of Canada’s top 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 Jury was thrilled with the scope of talent represented in the submissions this year,” said Leonard McHardy, Jury Chair, 2004 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre. “It was interesting to see that the nominees are working in so many different directing styles across the country. The five directors we selected exemplify the breadth of those styles very well.”

Joining Leonard McHardy (Toronto, ON) on the Jury was Marie-Hilhne 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 jurors assessed the nominees’ originality, sense of evolution, growing maturity, continuing experimentation, impact upon audiences, and/or influence upon younger artists. They also considered 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.

“On behalf of BMO Financial Group, I would like to congratulate the exceptional directors selected as finalists for the 2004 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre. The Jury reviewed a substantial number submissions this year and I thank each juror for their invaluable time and thoughtful deliberation,” said Tony Comper, President and CEO, BMO Financial Group.

“The Siminovitch Prize in Theatre is really coming of age, demonstrated not only by the extraordinary response to the call for submissions, but by the range of incredible talent, representing every region in Canada,” he added.

About the Finalists –

Lois Brown
Lois Brown has directed the premieres of plays by Newfoundlanders Ed Riche, Joel Hynes and Sherry White, among others. In 2004, Lois directed the spectacular elements of Berni Stapleton’s Barred Bard Chick Tells All in SHAKESPEARE’S WOMEN followed by the sparseness of Liz Pickard’s Funny Things Have Happened in My Life. She was Artistic Director of RCA Theatre Co., producing Andy Jones’s Still Alive and Jill Keiley’s first professional productions. She directed several works by Rick Mercer in his early years. Lois studied directing at University of Alberta, graduating in 1977. Returning home, she was influenced by the experimentation and passion of Neighbourhood Dance Works and Codco. In 2000, Lois’s feature The Bingo Robbers, co-directed and written with Barry Newhook, garnered her several directing and writing awards, but live performance continues to fascinate her and the theatre is where she carries out most of her experiments.

Martin Faucher
Martin Faucher is a graduate of the drama program at Cégep de Saint-Hyacinthe and has spent the past 15 years directing a variety of plays. Martin has worked for eight years with Montreal’s Centre des auteurs dramatiques (Cead), including three years as its vice-president. He also sits on the board of directors of the Fonds Gratien-Gélinas, a foundation dedicated to promoting the new generation of Quebec playwrights. Martin also regularly teaches in Quebec’s various theatre schools. In recent years, he has directed plays by Carole Fréchette, Lise Vaillancourt, Jasmine Dubé, Pierre-Michel Tremblay, Sylvain Coron and Larry Tremblay and revisited the works of Molière, Corneille, Claudel, Albee, McDonagh and, lately, Charles Ludlam at various Montreal theatres.

Eric Jean
Eric Jean has taught in Mexico and at the National Theatre School of Canada, where he held a three-year contract as assistant artistic director. He also sits on the advisory boards of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Festival de théâtre des Amériques and the Théâtre du Rideau Vert. In the spring of 2004, he was appointed artistic director and co-general director of Montreal’s Théâtre de Quat’Sous. A director by profession, he continues to question the basis of his creations. He has productions currently slated for the National Theatre School of Canada, the Théâtre du Bic and Le Trident.

Jillian Keiley
Jillian Keiley is the founding Artistic Director of Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland, the winner of the Canada Council’s 1997 John Hirsch Prize and was named the 1996 Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council’s Emerging Artist of the Year. Favorite Artistic Fraud productions includeIn Your Dreams Freud, Under Wraps: A Spoke Opera, The Cheat, Burial Practices, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Chekhov Variations, Icycle, and Belly Up. Last Year, Jillian directed the Canadian tours of Jack Five Oh for Sheila’s Brush, and Tempting Providence for Theatre Newfoundland Labrador, both of which are playing in destinations around the world this year. Jillian also teaches at Memorial University and The National Theatre School of Canada.

Alisa Palmer
Alisa Palmer works across the country as a director in large theatres and small, primarily focusing on bringing new Canadian work to the stage but also directing the classics. Recently, she directed the 1930’s musical, Pal Joey, as well as the Canadian premiere of Cicely Hamilton’s Diana of Dobson’s at the Shaw Festival. Alisa is currently directing the Canadian premiere of Private Jokes/Public Places at the Tarragon Theatre. Other projects include the multi-award-winning musical Anything That Moves by Ann-Marie MacDonald and composer Allen Cole, SIBS by Diane Flacks and Richard Greenblatt, both its premiere and the subsequent Canadian tour, and Smudge, by Alex Bulmer, Canada’s first professional play by a blind playwright. Alisa directed Goodnight Desdemona (Goodmorning Juliet) featuring the playwright, Ann-Marie MacDonald. She is a co-author of The Attic, The Pearls, & 3 Fine Girls(Scirocco Press). As a playwright, alone and with collective creations, she has received two Chalmers Awards. Alisa also directs contemporary opera spectacles most recently,Sirene/Sirenes, an a cappella, choreographed, bilingual performance for six sopranos, produced by Queen of Puddings Music Theatre. She is the co-founder and co-director of Froth Productions, an award winning interdisciplinary performance company whose work has been seen in theatres, university seminars and bankrupt stores.

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. The winner receives $100,000, of which $25,000 is awarded to a protégé or organization of the winner’s choice.

JoAnne Hayes, Toronto,, (416) 867-3996

Lucie Gosselin, Montreal,, (514) 877-1101