The 2017 jury is comprised of chair Bob White, Nathalie Bonjour, Jessie Mill, Vanessa Porteous and Emma Tibaldo.
Bob White, Jury Chair
Bob has been a dramaturg and director in the Canadian theatre for 45 years, with a strong reputation for developing Canadian plays including the work of Paul Ledoux, George F. Walker, Brad Fraser, Eugene Stickland and Stephen Massicotte, among many others. In January of 2013, he was appointed Director of New Plays at the Stratford Festival after four seasons as a consulting director. For the 2017 Season at Stratford, Bob was dramaturg on The Breathing Hole, The Virgin Trial and The Madwoman of Chaillot. Previous projects at the Festival include Bunny, The Last Wife, Christina, The Girl King, Hirsch, Taking Shakespeare and the Jillian Keiley productions of The Diary of Anne Frank and Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Previous to his Stratford engagement, Bob was attached to Calgary’s Alberta Theatre Projects for 23 years, the last nine as Artistic Director. He was Co-Director at the Banff Playwrights Colony (1997-2009), Artistic Director of Factory Theatre, Toronto, (1978-87) and Dramaturge, Playwrights Workshop Montreal (1975-78).
Bob has also directed more than 75 productions across the country—from Cowhead, Newfoundland to Victoria, British Columbia—but mostly in Calgary and Toronto and has received eight nominations and three wins for “Outstanding Direction” at Calgary’s Betty Mitchell Awards. Other awards include membership in the Order of Canada, Honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD), University of Calgary, and The Diamond Jubilee Medal.
With the 2017 Siminovitch Prize, Bob completes his three-year term as Chairman of the Jury.
Originally from France, Nathalie has lived in Montreal and Ottawa and has been based in Toronto since 2000. She is a senior performing arts consultant, producer and coach who has worked in leadership positions in the performing arts in Canada for the past 25 years – from independent companies creating new work to larger organizations, including: MAI (Montreal, Arts Interculturels), Just for Laughs Festival, the National Arts Centre, Nightwood Theatre and Queen of Puddings Music Theatre.
Nathalie has been instrumental in developing and producing many important new Canadian theatre, dance and opera works and has toured several of them nationally and internationally. Nathalie has been a consultant since 2012, producing, touring, and providing organizational development and strategic planning services to several companies. In the last couple of years, she has produced shows presented by Panamania and Luminato Festivals in Toronto, Magnetic North Festival, as well as Festivals in Morocco, Taiwan, Germany and the UK, including this August the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh.
As a lay person Nathalie has sat on many Boards, committees and juries. Nathalie holds a Masters degree from UQAM; her thesis examined theatre as a tool for intercultural communication. She also completed the program of the Schulich School’s Executive Directors’ Institute, the Coach Training Institute curriculum and recently obtained a Positive Psychology Coaching Certificate from the Wholebeing Institute.
Jessie Mill is a dramaturg, a critic and an editor. Since 2014, she works as an artistic advisor at the Festival TransAmeriques for its programming in theatre and dance. She is also responsible for organizing the festival’s artistic encounters and outreach activities, such as the “FTA Clinics”. She provides guidance and support to stage productions, conducts interviews with artists and teaches on occasion. She is also part of the editorial board of Liberté, a cultural magazine in Quebec.
Jessie writes about performances and critical issues in the performing arts. Between 2010 and 2014, she was the international projects advisor at the Centre des auteurs dramatiques (CEAD), namely in charge of translation activities and the international program for the centre’s yearly festival Dramaturgies en dialogue. At the CEAD, she also initiated collaborations with authors and artists from Burkina Faso and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is invited to give talks on Quebec’s theatre in Germany, Belgium, France and Morocco, and sat on the national selection committee supporting French-speaking playwrights at the Centre national du théâtre in Paris.
Vanessa is a director and dramaturg based in Calgary. From 2009 – 2017 she was Artistic Director at Alberta Theatre Projects. Coming up, she’ll direct the world premiere of To the Light by Evelyne de la Chenelière, translated by John Murrell (ATP).
Other directing includes the world premiere of Gracie by Joan MacLeod (ATP/Belfry Theatre); the world premiere of Cockroach by Jonathan Garfinkel, based on the novel by Rawi Hage (ATP), Christina The Girl King by Michel Marc Bouchard, translated by Linda Gaboriau (Stratford Festival), Charlotte’s Web (ATP), You Will Remember Me by François Archambault translated by Bobby Theodore (ATP), The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood (ATP and Arts Club Theatre), When That I Was (The Shakespeare Company), The Erotic Anguish of Don Juan (ATP, twice) and Pinocchio by The Old Trout Puppet Workshop (ATP, Magnetic North Theatre Festival), The Syringa Tree (ATP twice, and 1000 Islands Playhouse), and L’enfant et les sortileges (Calgary Opera).
AWARDS: Two Betty Mitchell Awards for Outstanding Direction.
Emma has been directing new Canadian plays from Whitehorse to St. John’s since graduating from the National Theatre School directing program-plays such as Refuge by Mary Vingoe, Falling Trees by Megan Coles, Model Wanted by Step Taylor.
In 2005 she co-founded Talisman Theatre for whom she has directed award winning productions such as That Woman by Daniel Danis, Down Dangerous Passes Road by Michel Marc Bouchard, and The Medea Effect by Suzie Bastien. In 2008 she became Artistic and Executive director of the national new creation centre Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal (PWM), where she has been the dramaturg for award winning plays by Mary Vingoe, Megan Coles, Marcus Youssef, Lois Brown to name but some.
She has been a dramaturg and director for numerous new play festivals across the country, and has been a guest artist at NTS for a decade. Emma is also a graduate of Concordia University’s Theatre Department.
“The four finalists for the 2017 Siminovitch Prize are playwrights and theatre-makers of the first order. Their extraordinary, idiosyncratic visions of what transpires on stage have already created transcendent experiences for audiences across the country,” said Jury Chair Bob White. “Their passionate belief in the power of theatre to not only celebrate the human experience but also challenge our ways of looking at the world is inspiring. Furthermore, the jury was thrilled by the abundance of award-worthy work that all the 2017 nominees had created and we all left the jury table confident that the future of Canadian theatre was indeed bright in the hands of all these remarkable artists.”
The 2017 Siminovitch Prize will be awarded at a ceremony taking place on Monday, November 6, 2017 at the National Arts Centre.