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Six Outstanding Canadian Directors Make Short-List for 2010 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre

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Directors from Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver in the Running for $100,000 Prize – the Largest in Canadian Theatre

TORONTO, October 4, 2010

BMO Financial Group, sponsor of the Elinore & Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, today announced the names of six Canadian directors who have made the 2010 short-list for the largest prize in Canadian theatre. The finalists are:

  • Kim Collier, Vancouver, British Columbia;
  • Ron Jenkins, Edmonton, Alberta;
  • Ross Manson, Toronto, Ontario;
  • Alisa Palmer, Toronto, Ontario;
  • Soheil Parsa, Toronto, Ontario; and
  • Jennifer Tarver, Toronto, Ontario.

The six finalists were selected from 19 nominated Canadian directors.

“On behalf of BMO Financial Group, I’d like to congratulate the six finalists for their creativity, innovation and for their contributions in advancing Canadian theatre,” said Gilles Ouellette, President and CEO, Private Client Group, BMO Financial Group. “I’d also like to extend our gratitude to Maureen Labonté and this year’s jury for their steadfast dedication to honouring such excellence.”

“The jury was thrilled with the scope of talent and the breadth of directional styles represented in the submissions this year,” said jury chair Maureen Labonté. “The spirit of the Siminovitch Prize truly inspired them and this spirit is reflected in the short-list announced today.

“The Prize not only recognizes excellence within an evolving body of work but innovation, exploration and risk-taking as well. It is not a lifetime achievement award and therefore it has the very exciting potential to make a real difference in the recipient’s artistic path allowing him or her to go further in the pursuit of excellence,” said Labonté.

Joining Maureen Labonté on the Jury were:

  • Marie Clements, Galiano Island, British Columbia, award-winning BC-based Métis performer, playwright, screenwriter, director, producer, and founding Artistic Director ofurban ink productions.
  • Jillian Keiley, St. John’s, Newfoundland, was artistic director and producer of a Victory Ceremony Celebration at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and is currently artistic director of Newfoundland’s Artistic Fraud.
  • Alain Jean, Ottawa, Ontario, director, actor and teacher, presently the Director General of Development Projects at the Association des théâtres francophones du Canada.
  • Marti Maraden, Stratford, Ontario, well-known actress and director, was Artistic Director of English Theatre at the National Arts Centre from 1997-2005.
  • Marcus Youssef, Vancouver, BC, Artistic Producer of Vancouver’s Neworld Theatre, and Artistic Associate of the Magnetic North Theatre Festival in Ottawa.

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 November 1, 2010 at a ceremony in Toronto.

The Selection Process
The Jury reviewed nominations of professional Canadian directors who have advanced Canadian theatre through a body of work achieved in recent years while influencing and inspiring younger theatre artists. 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;
  • Montréal director, Brigitte Haentjens in 2007; and
  • Toronto playwright, Daniel McIvor in 2008.
  • Calgary and Toronto designer, Ronnie Burkett in 2009

Media Contacts:
Nini Krishnappa, Toronto,, (416) 867-3996
Sarah Bensadoun, Montreal,, , (514) 877-8224
Laurie Grant, Vancouver,, (604) 665-7596

Kim Collier
Prior to her career as a director, Kim studied acting at the University of Victoria, physical theatre at Mime Unlimited in Toronto and in 1994 graduated from the 3 year acting program at Studio 58 in Vancouver. A year later she co-founded Electric Company Theatre whose work quickly became recognized nationally as a driving force behind the resurgence of activity in Vancouver’s independent theatre scene. Under the direction of Collier, the company has created a dozen original works through an intensive collaborative process including three landmark site-specific productions. Kim also has a growing presence on major stages and festivals across Canada with productions at Theatre Calgary, Festival TransAmerique, National Arts Centre, the Citadel Theatre and Canadian Stage. In 2011 her live-cinematic interpretation of No Exit is being presented by the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. Kim is the recipient of multiple awards including three Jessie Richardson awards for directing, a Betty Mitchell for Best Production and in 2009 the Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award.

Ron Jenkins
Originally from Cape Breton, Mr. Jenkins has been an Edmonton based director since 1992. He has been the Artistic Director of Shadow Theatre, Fringe Theatre Adventures, and Workshop West, and is a founding member of Skid Theatre and November Theatre, for whom he directed The Black B/o’er which recently finished its final run at Tarragon Theatre after touring for ten years. Committed to developing new work, Mr. Jenkins has dramaturged and directed 27 new Canadian plays, 20 of which were world premieres. In the past four years alone he has directed new plays at the Citadel, ATP, Vertigo, Tarragon, Factory, Passe Muraille, LKTYP, MTYP, GCTC, Concrete, Ghost River, and Off-Broadway, and this year he directs at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, Belfry, Vancouver Playhouse, and Off-Broadway again. Mr. Jenkins’ own play Extinction Song, which he directed for the Citadel, won the 2009 Edmonton Sterling awards for Outstanding New Play and Production.

Ross Manson
Ross Manson is a director, actor, translator, arts activist, and the founding Artistic Director of Volcano, an internationally acclaimed experimental theatre company. Ross’s theatre-making is characterised by intellectual curiosity, interdisciplinary collaborations, long gestation periods, and risk. Volcano’s work has garnered 43 Dora nominations, 13 wins, 2 Governor General award nominations, Carol Tambor “Best of Edinburgh Award”, Scotsman Fringe First, Amnesty International Freedom of Speech Award shortlist (Edinburgh Festival), NOW People’s Choice Award, and Chalmers’ National Play Award. Most recently, he took the play Goodness, a play exploring genocide, to Rwanda. His latest work is the The Africa Trilogy, a six- country, three-continent international collaboration examining the West’s relationship to Africa, premiering at Luminato. Ross has also spearheaded initiatives such as Go7, a subscription series for independent theatre and dance; founded the Volcano Conservatory, an alternative theatre training program; maintains an artist housing service; and co-founded The Wrecking Ball, a political theatre cabaret.

Alisa Palmer
Alisa Palmer is an award- winning theatre director, playwright, dramaturge and theatre producer. She is one of few Canadian directors who crosses genres, directing classics, contemporary plays, creation projects, musicals and operas. As a director, recent productions include Cloud 9 for Mirvish Productions, the world premiere of Mimi, A Poisoner’s Comedy, by Rick Roberts, Melody Johnson and composer Allen Cole, the hit revival of Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George, at the Shaw Festival, The Blonde, The Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead at Manitoba Theatre Centre, ‘Night Mother, for Soulpepper, and The Clean House at Canadian Stage. Her acclaimed production of Tor Girls at Soulpepper was remounted last fall and garnered her a Dora Award for Outstanding Direction. Her production of East of Berlin at the Tarragon Theatre has been touring Canada for two years and will return to the Tarragon for an unprecedented third time this winter. Now in her sixth season at the Shaw Festival, Palmer directed the premiere, remount and tour of the 2005 hit Belle Moral : A Natural History by Ann-Marie MacDonald, which was also presented at the National Arts Centre. Other productions at Shaw include: the Canadian premiere of Diana of Dobson’s, the musical Pal Joey, and G.B. Shaw’s The Philanderer. She has directed the creation of numerous landmark plays which have toured nationally, including Diane Flacks’ Random Acts, Sibs by Richard Greenblatt and Flacks and Smudge, the first professional play by a blind playwright. As a director she has received two Dora awards- for Outstanding Direction of Musical, Anything That Moves, (recently revived at The Belfry Theatre,) and for Outstanding Direction of a Play, Top Girls. As a playwright Ms Palmer has received two Dora Awards (Book collaboration with Ann-Marie MacDonald for the musical Anything That Moves and co-writer for L4) and two Chalmers Awards ( LcL and A Play About the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo). Ms Palmer has twice been named Finalist for the prestigious Siminovitch Prize. She is the recipient of the New Brunswick Award of Excellence and also a Harold Award for her work in independent theatre. She has taught at University of Toronto, Victoria, Waterloo, Ryerson University and the National Theatre School of Canada and was Artistic Director of Nightwood Theatre, Canada’s foremost feminist theatre company, 1994-2001. In 2005 she was Resident Director for the world premiere of The Lord of the Rings with Mirvish Entertainment. She directed the creation, premier and seven subsequent productions of The Attic, The Pearls & Three Fine Girls, (published by Scirocco Press), a collective creation to be revisited this year.

Soheil Parsa
Soheil is a director, actor, writer, dramaturge and choreographer, whose career spans three decades and two continents. In his native Iran, Soheil completed studies in Theatre Performance at the University of Tehran and began a career as an actor and director. Arriving in Canada with his family in 1984, he completed a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Studies at York University and went on to establish Modern Times Stage Company, recognized as one of the leading culturally-diverse theatre companies in Canada. Under Soheil’s artistic direction, Modern Times has garnered forty Dora Awards and Nominations since its founding. Soheil has received three Dora Awards for his direction and two for his co-translation and adaptation, as well as a Chalmers Fellowship and numerous international prizes. Soheil has introduced many important Iranian works to Canadian audiences and directed their English language premieres. A collection of these were published by Playwright’s Canada Press in 2008.

Jennifer Tarver
Jennifer Tarver is a Toronto based director working internationally in both opera and theatre. Most recently she directed Krapp’s Last Tape with Brian Dennehy at the Goodman Theater in Chicago. Stratford Festival productions include Krapp’s Last Tape, Zastroi and the world premiere of George F. Walker’s King of Thieves. Other Canadian premieres: Crave, Nightwood Theatre, Thom Pain (based on nothing), Tarragon Theatre and Ines, a Fado opera for Queen of Puddings Music Theatre. Her own works as adaptor/creator include Not Faust, History Play and the award winning She’s Gone Away with choreographer Susanna Hood. Opera direction includes The Rape of Lucretia, L‘Enfant et les Sortileges, The Magic Flute, The Turn of the Screw and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Tarver has been honored with: Best Director 2007 Now Magazine, the John Hirsch Director’s Award and the 2006 Pauline McGibbon Award in Directing. Her composition of Beckett plays, That Time – Five Beckett Shorts (at The Theatre Centre) garnered eight Dora Award nominations and four wins, including Best Director and Best Production. She is currently developing a new work based on Calderon’s Life is a Dream.