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Five Outstanding Canadian Playwrights Make Short-List for 2008 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre

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Playwrights from Toronto, Montreal and St-David de Falardeau in the Running for $100,000 Prize – the Largest in Canadian Theatre

TORONTO, September 24, 2008 – BMO Financial Group, sponsor of the Elinore & Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, announced the names of five Canadian playwrights who have made the 2008 short-list for the largest prize in Canadian theatre. The finalists are:

  • Morwyn Brebner, Toronto, Ontario;
  • Daniel Danis, St-David de Falardeau, Quebec;
  • Daniel MacIvor, Toronto, Ontario;
  • Colleen Murphy, Toronto, Ontario; and
  • Larry Tremblay, Montreal, Quebec.

The five finalists were selected from 26 nominated Canadian playwrights, recognized for their body of work and inspiration to younger theatre artists.

“On behalf of BMO Financial Group, congratulations to all of the extraordinary playwrights who were short-listed for the 2008 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre,” said Gilles Ouellette, President and CEO, Private Client Group, BMO Financial Group. “Our gratitude to Leonard McHardy and this year’s jury for their steadfast dedication to honouring such excellence in Canadian theatre.”

“The jury feels that each playwright on the short-list possesses a very strong and unique voice,” said Leanard McHardy, Jury Chair, Siminovitch Prize in Theatre and co-owner of Toronto’s TheatreBooks bookstore. “The diversity of vocabulary and style of their writing is impressive and bodes well for the growth of a strong Canadian theatre.”

Other jury members include:

  • Patricia Hamilton, Toronto, Ontario, a Canadian actress with more than 45 years on the stage;
  • Paul Lefebvre, Ottawa, Ontario, a translator, stage director, dramaturge and theatre scholar;
  • Vicki Stroich, Calgary, Alberta, a dramaturge, programmer and producer with Calgary’s Alberta Theatre Projects; and
  • John Van Burek, Toronto, Ontario, a director, teacher, translator, and Founding Artistic Director of Toronto’s Pleiades Theatre.

The recipient of the Siminovitch Prize will receive $100,000, of which $25,000 will be awarded to a protégé or organization of their choice. The Prize will be presented on October 27, 2008 at a ceremony in Toronto.

About the Finalists –


Morwyn Brebner
Morwyn’s debut play, Music for Contortionist, was co-produced by Tarragon Theatre and the Shaw Festival in 2000, and nominated for both the Dora award for Outstanding New Play, and the Chalmers Award. Other plays at Tarragon include the acclaimed The Optimists, Liquor Guns Karate, and Little Mercy’s First Murder (co-produced with the Shaw Festival, with composers Jay Turvey and Paul Sportelli), the winner of 7 Dora awards including Outstanding New Musical. Translations includeStrawberries in January by Evelyne de la Cheneliere and Mathilde by Veronique Olmi. Her latest adaptation, The President by Ferenc Molnar, runs at the Shaw Festival until autumn 2008. Morwyn’s new translation of Bashir Lazhar by Evelyne de la Cheneliere will premiere at Tarragon Theatre in October 2008. Morwyn is a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada’s playwriting program, and currently playwright-in-residence at Tarragon Theatre.


Daniel Danis 
Daniel Danis was born in Hawkesbury, Ontario in 1962. In the 1990s, after studying theatre and visual arts, he devoted himself to playwriting. He is the author of 12 dramatic works published and performed in Canada and abroad. The most significant of these include Cendres de cailloux (1993), e, roman-dit (2005), Celle-là(1993), Le chant du Dire-Dire (1998) and Le langue-à-langue des chiens de roche (2005), the last three of which earned Governor General’s awards. Mr. Danis has also written several works for young people’s theatre, including Le Pont de pierres et la peau d’images (1996) andKiwi (2007), which the playwright himself directed. Daniel Danis’s dramatic works are published in French by Leméac (Montréal) and l’Arche (Paris). They have also been translated into several languages for performance abroad.


Daniel MacIvor
Daniel MacIvor was born in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and has written almost 20 productions in 20 years and has 15 publications to his name. His plays include See Bob Run, Wild Abandon, The Soldier Dreams, You Are Here, How It Works, His Greatness, and A Beautiful View, and with long time collaborator Daniel Brooks he created the solo performances House, Here Lies Henry, Monster and Cul-de-sac. His play Marion Bridge received its Off-Broadway premiere in New York in October 2005, and his play Never Swim Alone won the 1998 New York Fringe’s Overall Excellence Award. In 2002 he won a GIAAD Award and a Village Voice Obie Award for his play In On It (PS 122). Mr. MacIvor also has two Chalmers New Play Awards to his credit, and his collection of five plays called I Still Love You won the 2006 Governor General’s Award for Drama. Mr. MacIvor is also a screenwriter and filmmaker (House, Wilby Wonderful, Marion Bridge, Past Perfect, Whole New Thing), and from 1987-2007 he was Artistic Director of the international theatre touring company da da kamera.


Colleen Murphy
Colleen Murphy’s most recent play The December Man (L’homme de décembre) won the 2007 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama. Born in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, Murphy writes for stage and film and twice won prizes in the CBC Literary Competition with Fire-Engine Red(1985) and Pumpkin Eaters (1990). Her first published play, Beating Heart Cadaver (1998), was nominated for a 1999 Governor General’s Literary Award and a Chalmers Award. The Piper, which sports a cast of thirty, was published in 2003. Murphy is also a filmmaker and her distinctive films have been nominated for a total of eight Genie awards – films include Putty Worm (1993), The Feeler (1995), Shoemaker (1996), Desire (2000), War Holes (2002), and Girl with Dog (2006) which was invited to Paris to compete at the Festival International de Programmes Audiovisuels in 2007. Trained as an actress at Ryerson University and the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute in New York, Murphy studied film directing at the Canadian Film Centre. In Toronto she has been a resident playwright at Tarragon Theatre for two years and at Necessary Angel Theatre Company for six. Currently, Murphy is Playwright in Residence at Tapestry New Opera Works in Toronto. She is the President of the Board of Playwrights Canada Press and an Advisor to the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Canadian New Music Projects.


Larry Tremblay 
Larry Tremblay is an author, director, actor and specialist in kathakali dance-drama, which he has studied during his many trips to India. He has published some twenty books as a playwright, poet, novelist and essayist. A steady stream of new plays (Leçon d’anatomie, Ogre, The Dragonfly of Chicoutimi, Le génie de la rue Drolet, Les mains bleues, Téléroman, Cornemuse, Le ventriloque, Panda panda, L’histoire d’un cœur) has earned him recognition in Quebec and abroad. His dramatic works have been performed in Italy, France, Belgium, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina and Scotland. In 2003, the Montreal production of Le ventriloquegarnered six nominations at the Soirée des Masques, including best new play, and was awarded the Masque for best Montreal-based production. In 2006, he received the Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award, presented by the Canada Council for the Arts, for his dramatic works. He recently published Piercing, a collection of three tales, including La hache, with Gallimard. Since 1986, Mr. Tremblay has taught performance and writing at the École supérieure de théâtre of the Université du Québec à Montréal.

The Selection Process
The Jury reviewed nominations of professional Canadian playwrights 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 two 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
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 largest annual theatre arts award recognizes direction, playwriting and design in three-year cycles. Previous recipients include:

  • Toronto director Daniel Brooks in 2001;
  • Montreal playwright Carole Fréchette in 2002;
  • Montreal designer Louise Campeau in 2003;
  • St. John’s director Jillian Keiley in 2004;
  • Toronto playwright John Mighton in 2005;
  • Toronto set and costume designer Dany Lyne in 2006; and
  • Montreal director Brigitte Haentjens in 2007.

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