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Directors from Alberta, Ontario and Quebec in the Running for Largest Prize in Canadian Theatre

TORONTO, October 3, 2007 – BMO Financial Group, sponsor of the Elinore & Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, announced today the names of four exceptional Canadian theatre directors who have been placed on the short-list for the $100,000 Prize.  The Siminovitch Prize is the largest in Canadian theatre and will be presented in Toronto on October 29, 2007.

The four finalists were selected from 26 of Canada’s top professional directors who received nominations. The finalists are:

Brigitte Haentjens (Montréal, QC)
Ron Jenkins (Edmonton, AB)
Alisa Palmer (Toronto, ON)
Soheil Parsa (Toronto, ON).

“On behalf of BMO Financial Group, I would like to congratulate the extraordinary directors short-listed for the 2007 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre. The jury reviewed many impressive submissions this year.  I thank each juror for their thoughtful deliberation,” said Gilles Ouellette, President and CEO, Private Client Group, BMO Financial Group.

“The four outstanding theatre directors selected by the jury as finalists for this year’s Siminovitch Prize clearly exemplify the rich variety of artistry at work in theatres across Canada,” said Leonard McHardy, Jury Chair, Siminovitch Prize in Theatre. “Each director has a unique and personal style which the jury has chosen to recognize and celebrate with this impressive short-list.”

Joining Mr. McHardy on the jury are Geneviève Billette, author, translator and recipient of the 2002 Siminovitch Protégé Prize; Katrina Dunn, director and producer; Valerie Moore, director, choreographer and teacher; and Carlo Guillermo Proto, director, producer and writer.

About the Finalists –

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Brigitte Haentjens
According to the Siminovitch Prize jury, “Brigitte possesses a fearless relationship with her audience that constantly inspires, enriches and is at the foundation of her theatre.  There is an intellectual intensity to her work which, when coupled with her long and sustained collaboration with actors, results in eclectically challenging theatre.”

Brigitte Haentjens is a Canadian theatre director.  She studied theatre in Paris before moving to Ontario in 1977, serving as artistic director of the Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario for eight years.  From 1991 to 1994 she was artistic director of Nouvelle Compagnie Théâtrale in Montréal, and from 1996 to 2006 she was artistic co-director for the Carrefour International de Théâtre de Québec. Ms. Haentjens has also run her own theatre company, Sibyllines, since 1977, intended as a vehicle to further explore her artistic approach with greater freedom. For Sibyllines, she is currently working on a production of Blasté (Blasted) by Sarah Kane, translated by Jean Marc Dalpé with Paul Ahmarani, Céline Bonnier and Roy Dupuis, scheduled to open in the spring of 2008 as well as developing a number of new projects.

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Ron Jenkins
“Throughout the arc of Ron’s career, he has worked hard to bring Western Canadian playwrights to the rest of the country,” said the jury. “He has a strong visual sensibility and we are excited to see the contributions he will make to Canadian theatre in the future.”

Ron Jenkins is a Canadian director and producer, and founding member of November Theatre.  As artistic director of Workshop West Theatre in Edmonton from 2000 to 2006, Mr. Jenkins premiered new Canadian plays every season, often performing as dramaturge.  Currently, he is directing a production of What the Butler Saw at the University of Alberta. Next he will direct a show for Ground Zero in Calgary and then he’ll be in New York working on Bash’d, his Off Broadway show that will run in the spring.

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Alisa Palmer
According to the jury, “Alisa’s work plumbs the subconscious mind and the imagination, bringing about something profound, sombre and playful.  Her work is constantly progressing and there is clarity in her directorial vision.  This clarity is seductively compelling and, when viewed across a director’s oeuvre, often taken for granted.”

Alisa Palmer is a Canadian theatre director and playwright.  Ms. Palmer works across the country as a director in theatres of all sizes, primarily focusing on bringing new Canadian work to the stage.  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. Ms. Palmer was also short-listed for the Siminovitch Prize in Theatre in 2004.  Currently, she is working on Hannah Moscovitch’s premiere East of Berlin at the Tarragon Theatre.

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Soheil Parsa
“A collaborative artist to the core, Soheil’s strong imagery set amongst a landscape of poetically engaging text is incredibly potent,” said the jury. “Soheil’s work in independent theatre has reached far beyond the limited resources he has available to him.”

Soheil Parsa is an award-winning director, actor, writer, dramaturge, choreographer and teacher, whose professional theatre career spans twenty-nine years and two continents.  Mr. Soheil’s work is based on his experience in Iran and focuses on oppression and loss of freedom (especially loss of speech). His art is created to empower those who are often marginalized and under-represented.   His upcoming directing project will be Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, produced by Modern Times Stage Company at the Young Centre in March 2008.

Full biographies and photos of the finalists are available upon request.

The Selection Process
The Jury reviewed nominations of professional Canadian directors who advance Canadian theatre through a body of work achieved in recent years while influencing and inspiring younger theatre artists. In the preceding 10 years, nominees will have made a significant creative contribution to no fewer than three noteworthy theatre projects in Canada. The jurors assess the nominees’ originality, sense of evolution, growing maturity, continuing experimentation, impact upon audiences, and/or influence upon younger artists. They 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.

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, beginning with the 2001 award to Toronto director Daniel Brooks; the 2002 award to Montréal playwright Carole Fréchette; the 2003 award to Montréal designer Louise Campeau; the 2004 award to St. John’s director Jillian Keiley; the 2005 award to Toronto playwright John Mighton and the 2006 award to Toronto set and costume designer, Dany Lyne. The recipient receives $100,000, of which $25,000 is awarded to a protégé or organization of the recipient’s choice.

Contacts: 
JoAnne Hayes, Toronto, joanne.hayes@bmo.com, (416) 867-3996
Lucie Gosselin, Montreal, lucie.gosselin@bmo.com, (514) 877-8224
Laurie Grant, Vancouver, laurie.grant@bmo.com, (604) 665-7596

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