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Playwrights from Victoria, Edmonton, Kingston, Toronto and Montreal in the Running for Largest Prize in Canadian Theatre

September 27, 2005

TORONTO – The Elinore & Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre and founding sponsor, BMO Financial Group, announced today the names of seven exceptional Canadian playwrights who have been placed on the short-list for the $100,000 Prize. One recipient will be awarded the Siminovitch Prize on October 25, 2005 during a ceremony at University of Toronto’s Hart House Theatre.

The following seven finalists were selected from 53 of Canada’s top playwrights who received nominations:

Daniel MacIvor, Toronto, ON
Joan MacLeod, Victoria, BC
John Mighton, Toronto, ON
Daniel David Moses, Kingston, ON
Wajdi Mouawad, Montreal, QC
Djanet Sears, Toronto, ON
Vern Thiessen, Edmonton, AB

 “The Jury was impressed with the breadth of talent showcased in the nominations this year, with over 70 per cent more submissions in 2005, in contrast to the 37 we received in 2002, the first year the Siminovitch Prize honoured playwrights. This response truly highlights the richness and continuing evolution of playwriting in Canada today,” said Leonard McHardy, Jury Chair, 2005 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre and co-owner and co-founder of TheatreBooks in Toronto, a leading source of books on the performing arts in Canada for more than 25 years.

“The seven playwrights were selected based on the overall excellence of their work and the stage they are at within their individual careers. If this had been a prize for lifetime achievement, I’m sure the Jury could have given it out several times over,” added Mr. McHardy. “The Siminovitch Prize, however, is neither a lifetime achievement award, nor an emerging artist award. It is geared towards an artist at a point in his or her career where the recognition and resources of the Prize can make a significant impact on the artist’s future career as a playwright.”

The jurors assessed the nominees’ originality, sense of evolution, growing maturity, continuing experimentation, impact upon audiences, and influence upon younger artists.

Joining Mr. McHardy on the Jury were Martha Henry, one of Canada’s most acclaimed theatre artists; designer Astrid Janson whose work has been seen in North America and Europe; Maureen LaBonté, a translator, dramaturge and teacher who has worked in both English and French Canada; and Professor Jerry Wasserman, University of British Columbia, one of the country’s foremost scholars of Canadian Theatre.

“I would like to congratulate the seven extraordinary playwrights selected as finalists for the 2005 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre,” said Tony Comper, President and CEO, BMO Financial Group. “The Jury had the daunting task of reviewing a large number of Canada’s best playwrights and I thank each juror for their invaluable time and thoughtful deliberation.”

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 Montreal playwright Carole Fréchette; the 2003 award to Montreal designer Louise Campeau and the 2004 award to St. John’s director Jillian Keiley. The recipient receives $100,000, of which $25,000 is awarded to a protégé or organization of the recipient’s choice.

Biographies and photos of the finalists are available upon request.

Contacts:
JoAnne Hayes, Toronto, joanne.hayes@bmo.com, (416) 867-3996
Lucie Gosselin, Montreal, lucie.gosselin@bmo.com, (514) 877-1101
Laurie Grant, Vancouver, laurie.grant@bmo.com, (604) 665-7596

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