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June 3rd deadline for theatre designer nominations fast approaching

TORONTO, May 20, 2009

BMO Financial Group today announced the members of the jury for the 2009 Elinore & Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre. The distinguished panel of theatre experts will select this year’s recipient of the $100,000 prize – the largest prize in Canadian theatre.

The deadline for nominations for the Siminovitch Prize, which will be presented this year to a professional theatre designer, is Wednesday, June 3rd. A short list will be disclosed in September, and the recipient and their protégé will be announced in October.

BMO Financial Group, a founding sponsor, will host the award ceremony. “We are proud to promote the development of the arts in Canada,” said Gilles Ouellette, President and CEO of BMO’s Private Client Group. “This award recognizes the brilliant men and women of Canadian theatre whose achievements entertain, challenge and provoke audiences across the country.”

Maureen Labonté, will preside as panel chair. Ms. Labonté is a past Siminovitch Prize jury member and has extensive theatre experience in both English and French communities across the country. Ms. Labonté succeeds Leonard McHardy who acted as jury chair for six years.

“We have a very experienced and dedicated jury to help us with this year’s selection,” said Ms. Labonté. “We are all looking forward to reviewing the work of Canada’s most talented and influential theatre designers.”

The other members of the jury are:

  • Mérédith Caron – one of Quebec’s foremost costume designers and a teacher at the National Theatre School in Montreal;
  • Kevin Kerr – award-winning playwright and founding member of the Electric Company Theatre in Vancouver;
  • Sue LePage – celebrated Toronto-based set and costume designer for more than 25 years; and
  • Mieko Ouchi – playwright, actor, stage and film director as well as co-founder and Artistic co-director of Edmonton’s Concrete Theatre.

About BMO Financial Group’s support of arts and culture
BMO Financial Group is one of Canada’s largest corporate benefactors, and a major contributor to arts and culture. In 2008, BMO contributed more than $55 million in donations and sponsorships. BMO’s funding supports numerous cultural charities and organizations, ranging from grants to music and art programs in schools, to sustaining grants for national cultural institutions.

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. A jury awards the $100,000 prize annually. For further information about the prize, please visit www.siminovitchprize.com.

Media Contacts:
Orli Namian, Toronto, orli.namian@bmo.com, (416) 867-3996
Lucie Gosselin, Montréal, lucie.gosselin@bmo.com, (514) 877-1101
Laurie Grant, Vancouver, laurie.grant@bmo.com, (604) 665-7596

Brief Biographies of Jury Members

Maureen Labonté is a dramaturge, translator, teacher, and Co-Director of the Banff Playwrights’ Colony at the Banff Centre for the Arts. In the past, she has worked at the Stratford Festival, the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, and played the role of Literary Manager at the Shaw Festival among other achievements. She has also worked at the National Theatre School of Canada where she developed and facilitated a two-year pilot Directing program as well as coordinated the school’s Playwriting program. She still teaches at NTSC. She has translated more than 30 Québecois plays into English including, The Bookshop by Marie-Josée Bastien, August by Jean Marc Dalpé and Everybody’s Welles by Patrice Dubois.

Mérédith Caron has contributed to more than a 100 works and is considered a leader in her field. She works on a regular basis with such skilled stage directors as Serge Denoncourt, Pierre Bernard, Louise Laprade, Martine Beaulne, Denise Filiatrault, Daniel Roussel and Claude Poissant, and with Richard Monette at the prestigious Stratford Festival. Since the beginning of her career in 1978, she has shared her time between theatre, film and opera. She also designed the costumes for 2 shows by the Cirque Eloize: Nomade and Rain. She has received many prestigious awards including a Gémeau and two Masque awards. She teaches art history and costume design at the National Theatre School.

Kevin Kerr is founding member and Artistic Associate of Vancouver’s Electric Company Theatre with whom he’s co-written numerous plays including Brilliant! The Blinding Enlightenment of Nikola Tesla, The Wake, The Score, Flop, and The Fall. Recent works include Skydive (Realwheels) and Studies in Motion (Electric Company). He received the Governor General’s Award for Drama in 2002 for his play Unity (1918) (Touchstone Theatre). His most recent work, an adaptation of Pierre Berton’s Secret World of Og premiered at Vancouver’s Carousel Theatre in April, and he’s attending the Banff Playwrights’ Colony with Jonathon Young to collaborate on Electric Company’s upcoming Tear the Curtain! He is currently the Lee Playwright in Residence at the University of Alberta, where he’s working on Spine, a co-production between U of A and Realwheels. He lives in Edmonton with the poet Marita Dachsel and their two sons.

Sue LePage has played a prominent role in Canadian theatre for more than 25 years. She has designed the premiere productions of plays by many of Canada’s most illustrious playwrights through her long association with companies such as the Tarragon Theatre. She has also earned many design credits for both the Stratford and Shaw Festivals as well as The National Arts Centre, The Banff Centre, and regional theatres across the country. Most recently, she has designed the premieres of John Estacio and John Murrell’s operas Filumena and Frobisher, Ballet Jorgen Canada’s Anastasia and Group of Seven Nutcracker, and Mrs Warren’s Profession, Getting Married, and Saint Joan for the Shaw Festival.

Mieko Ouchi is an Edmonton-based actor, writer, and director who works in both theatre and film/TV. Her plays The Red Priest (Eight Ways To Say Goodbye), The Blue Light and The Dada Play have been produced across the country and have been short-listed for the 4 Play Series at The Old Vic in London, the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama, and the City of Edmonton Book Prize, winning the Canadian Authors Association Carol Bolt Award. Her documentary, narrative and experimental films have played over 30 festivals and aired internationally, and she has been seen as Nori Sato on the first two seasons of the new Global TV series The Guard. Mieko is a co-founder and Artistic Co-Director of Concrete Theatre and is the inaugural Faith Broome Playwright in Residence in 2009 at the University of Oklahoma.

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