Skip to content

Five Outstanding Canadian Designers Short-Listed for 2012 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre

Image: Name, Title, Description

  • Designers from Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal in the running for $100,000 prize – the largest in Canadian theatre

TORONTO, ON, October 1, 2012 – The founders of the Elinore & Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre today announced the names of five Canadian designers who have made the 2012 short-list for the largest prize in Canadian theatre. The finalists are:

  • Alan Brodie, Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Richard Feren, Toronto, Ontario
  • Anick La Bissonière, Montreal, Quebec
  • Richard Lacroix, Montreal, Quebec
  • Robert Thomson, Montreal, Quebec

The five finalists were selected from a list of 26 nominees, recognized for their work in professional lighting, costume, set, sound and mixed media design and for their inspiration to younger theatre designers. The recipient of the award, the largest in Canadian theatre, will receive a $100,000 prize, which will be announced at a ceremony in Toronto on November 5, 2012.

On behalf of the Founders, I’d like to congratulate all nominees short-listed for this year’s Siminovitch Prize in Theatre,” said Joseph Rotman, Chair of the Canada Council and one of the Founders of the Siminovitch Prize. “The choice of this year’s finalists in theatre design is nothing less than inspired. We would like to extend a sincere thank you to Maureen Labonté, and the rest of this year’s jury, for their commitment to recognizing these remarkable achievements in Canadian theatre.”

Maureen Labonté has been the Chair of the Siminovitch Prize jury since 2009.

“Our short-list includes five remarkably gifted theatre artists whose work gave us such pleasure to delve into and discover,” said Ms. Labonté. “The jury feels strongly that each of the nominees on this year’s short-list shows incredible artistic talent and have greatly advanced design in Canadian theatre.”

The other five members of the jury include:

  • Alison Green, who has worked as a scenographer and theatre artist for most of her career, and is currently a member of the faculty of the UBC Department of Theatre in Vancouver;
  • Claude Goyette, a Quebec-based designer, who has created over a 150 sets for stage, theatre, opera, dance and television, as well as exhibits for museums and infrastructures for the Cirque du Soleil;
  • Jock Munro, who currently resides in Meech Lake, Quebec, and whose 34-year design career includes credits in most major theatres across Canada, has also worked as a lighting designer in the U.S. and Europe in the fields of theatre, opera and dance;
  • Leigh Ann Vardy, a lighting designer for theatre and dance, who has worked in theatres across Canada and has a keen interest in designing new works, is currently an instructor and coach at the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal;
  • Shawn Kerwin, an award winning set and costume designer with credits in Canada, England and the United States, is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre at York University.

The Selection Process
The Jury reviewed nominations of professional Canadian designers who have advanced Canadian theatre through a body of work achieved in recent years while influencing and inspiring younger theatre artists. In the preceding 10 years, nominees were to have made a significant creative contribution to no fewer than three noteworthy theatre projects in Canada. 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 artists were at a point in their professional career where the recognition and resources associated with the prize would make a significant difference, allowing and encouraging the artist to go further in the pursuit of his or her craft.

About the Siminovitch Prize in Theatre
The Elinore & Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre honours professional directors, playwrights and designers by acknowledging excellence and encouraging further exploration in Canadian theatre. The Siminovitch Prize was created in 2001 and is dedicated to distinguished scientist Lou Siminovitch and his late wife Elinore, a playwright. For further information about the prize, please visit

Background on the Five Nominees

Alan Brodie
Since 1989, lighting designer Alan Brodie has worked for Canadian regional theatre, opera and dance companies from Victoria to Halifax, as well as the countless small and independent producers, and has also seen his work on the international stage. His lighting has come to be characterized by its sophisticated use of color, sensitivity to the inherent rhythms of work, a passion for collaboration and mentorship and an uncompromising pursuit of excellence. Mr. Brodie has received 8 Jessie Richardson awards, a Betty Mitchell award and a Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award. A past board member of the Associated Designers of Canada, Brodie holds a BFA in theatre studies from the University of British Columbia. He has served on faculty at UBC, the Banff Centre and the National Theatre School of Canada. Brodie lives in Vancouver with his wife Michele.

Richard Feren
Richard has been creating sound scores and music for Canadian theatre, dance and film since 1992. Companies include Buddies In Bad Times (The Maids; Blasted; Silicone Diaries); Canadian Stage (The Test); Crow’s Theatre (Seeds; Eternal Hydra); da da kamera (Cul-de-Sac; In On It; Monster; Here Lies Henry); Dancemakers (The Satie Project); Modern Times (Aurash; Daughters of Sheherzad; Hamlet); Necessary Angel (This Is What Happens Next; Half-Life; Insomnia; The Eco Show); the Shaw Festival (When the Rain Stops Falling); Soulpepper (White Biting Dog; Fronteras Americanas; A Raisin in the Sun; The Chairs; Uncle Vanya; Endgame); Tarragon Theatre (Russell Hill; The Good Life; Faust); Theatrefront (The Mill); Theatre Passe Muraille (Possible Worlds; This Hotel) 2B Theatre (Revisited); and VideoCabaret. He has also composed music scores for films by Daniel MacIvor, Robert Lepage, Valerie Buhagiar, and others. Richard has won seven Dora Mavor Moore Awards and the 1999 Pauline McGibbon Award.

Anick La Bissonnière
After studying architecture in Montreal and Lausanne, Switzerland, Anick La Bissonnière first plied her trade with the Odile Decq agency in Paris before collaborating with Montreal-based Trizart on the design of close to fifty performance space projects. In tandem with her architectural practice, she soon acquired extensive expertise in set design work for various museums, theatres and urban happenings. Since 1999, she has developed a privileged artistic relationship with stage director Brigitte Haentjens, with whom she has created over a dozen theatre productions acclaimed by audiences and critics alike. Although focusing on theatre, she has also tried her hand at dance productions, variety shows and television. With close to seventy productions to her credit, she was honoured among the world’s elite in theatre set design at the Prague Quadrennial of 2007. Annick lectured on architecture for several years at the Université de Montréal before joining the faculty of the École Supérieure de Théâtre of the Université du Québec à Montréal, teaching set design for the performing arts.

Richard Lacroix 
Although renowned as a set designer for the stage and the small screen, Richard Lacroix has also designed exhibitions for the Musée de la Civilisation in Quebec City. After several nominations for the Gala des Masques, an award ceremony held by the Académie Québécoise du Théâtre, the theatre academy graced him with the Mask award for set design. He is also a recipient of the Chalmers Award for writing Le Porteur (the Star Keeper), a puppetry play staged by the Théâtre de l’Œil. Richard collaborates regularly with set designers Martine Beaulne, André Brassard and Louise Laprade and choreographers Louise Bédard and Sylvain Émard. Because he considers puppetry a favoured medium for expression, he has shared his artistic passion with the Théâtre de l’Œil team for over twenty years. In addition to designing sets and characters for Sur 3 Pattes (3-Legged Tale), he co-wrote the play’s script with author and stage director Simon Boudreault. Richard Lacroix teaches at the Collège Lionel-Groulx, at the Université du Québec à Montréal and at the National Theatre School of Canada.

Robert Thomson Robert Thomson is one of Canada’s most versatile and active freelance theatre, opera and dance lighting designers. He designed Much Ado About Nothing and Cymbeline this year for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Over eleven consecutive seasons, his 27 Stratford projects include Caesar and Cleopatra and King Lear both starring Christopher Plummer, The Homecoming and Krapp’s Last Tape starring Brian Dennehy, Dangerous Liaisons, The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet and Into the Woods. Robert served as Resident Lighting Designer for The National Ballet of Canada for twelve seasons. His company projects include Swan Lake, The Taming of the Shrew and Romeo and Juliet. He has also designed for the Shaw Festival Theatre for twenty-four seasons, including a ten-year term as Head of Lighting Design for St. Joan, Man and Superman, Cavalcade and Cyrano de Bergerac. He designed the lighting for Robert Lepage’s award winning, first opera Bluebeard’s Castle and Erwartung, which has been performed by numerous companies in Canada and around the world. He has designed for numerous companies including ABT at The MET; Lincoln Center Theatre; The Goodman Theatre, Chicago; Stuttgart Ballet; Canadian Stage; NAC; Citadel Theatre; Manitoba Theatre Centre; Centaur Theatre and the Segal Theatre. Over his 35-year career Robert has received numerous awards including a Sterling Award for Edmonton Opera’s mounting of the Bluebeard’s Castle and four of Canada’s coveted Dora Mavor Moore Awards. Mr. Thomson is a member of the Associated Designers of Canada and L’Association des professionnels des arts de la scène du Québec.