A national jury of distinguished members of the Canadian theatre community is chosen annually to select the Siminovitch Prize recipient. The Jury Chair leads the selection of the jury and presides over the deliberations. The jury will be announced in September following adjudication.
Guillermo Verdecchia, Jury Chair (Toronto, ON)
Gullermo is a writer of drama and fiction as well as a director, dramaturge, translator, and actor. He is the recipient of a Governor-General’s Award for Drama for his play Fronteras Americanas and a four-time winner of the Chalmers Canadian Play Award. His work, which includes The Art of Building a Bunker (with Adam Lazarus), the Governor-General shortlisted Noam Chomsky Lectures (with Daniel Brooks), the Seattle Times’ Footlight Award-winning Adventures of Ali & Ali (with Marcus Youssef and Camyar Chai), A Line in the Sand (with Marcus Youssef), bloom, and Another Country has been recorded, anthologized, translated into Spanish and Italian, produced in Europe and the US, and is studied in Latin America, Australia, Europe, and North America.
As a director and actor he has worked at theatres across Canada, from the Stratford Festival, where he directed Sunil Kuruvilla’s Rice Boy, to Vancouver’s East Cultural Centre, where he has presented several original works including Ali & Ali: The Deportation Hearings. He has also directed for Soulpepper Theatre — the critically acclaimed production of The Royale – and the Tarragon – The Jungle (Toronto Critics’ Award for Best New Play). As an actor, he has played Orlando in As You Like It, and Galy Gay in A Man’s A Man; he created the roles of Longomantanus in John Mighton’s Short History of Night, Elias in Joan Macleod’s Amigo’s Blue Guitar, for which he received a Dora Award nomination, and Dan in Daniel Brooks’s The Good Life.
A former Artistic Director of Toronto’s Cahoots Theatre Projects and former Director of New Play Development at Soulpepper, Guillermo is a frequently sought-after collaborator. He assisted in the development of Jovanni Sy’s A Taste of Empire, and directed the production in various demonstration kitchens around Toronto. He has also served as dramaturg on Sarena Parmar’s The Orchard at the Shaw Festial; David Yee’s Governor-General’s Award nominatedLady in the Red Dress, produced by fu-GEN Theatre; Vern Theissen’s multi-award winning adaptation of Sommerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage, and Anthony MacMahon’s adaptation of Animal Farm. He has translated plays by Garcia Lorca and is particularly fond of Once 5 Years Pass.
He has an M.A. from the University of Guelph where he received a Governor-General’s Gold Medal for Academic Achievement. He has published a number of scholarly articles and contributed book chapters on aspects of intercultural theatre practice in Canada, and teaches regularly at the University of Toronto.
His most recent work includes an adaptation of the 12th Century Sufi poem The Conference of the Birds, which was featured in Soulpepper’s audio program Around the World in 80 Plays. His play Our Heart Learns played in Genoa in the fall of 2021, and he is working on a new play provisionally entitled Galicia.
Geneviève Pelletier, Juror
Geneviève Pelletier is a Métis actor and theater director from Treaty 1 Territory. Since 2012, she is the artistic and general director of le Théâtre Cercle Molière in Saint-Boniface. She is interested in nurturing a fertile creative space that includes as many cultures as there are voices, one that reflects the various communities she is engaged with.
Omari Newton, Juror
Omari Newton is an award-winning professional actor, writer, director and producer. As a writer, his original Hip Hop theatre piece Sal Capone has received critical acclaim and multiple productions, including a recent presentation at Canada’s National Arts Centre. He has been commissioned by Black Theatre Workshop (BTW) in Montreal to write a companion piece to Sal Capone entitled Black & Blue Matters. Omari and his wife, fellow professional playwright Amy Lee Lavoie, recently received a generous grant from the Canada Council to co-write a new play: Redbone Coonhound. Their latest collaboration is a bold and innovative satirical comedy that confronts instances of systemic racism in the past, present and future. Newton’s work in Speakeasy Theatre’s production of Young Jean Lee’s The Shipment earned him a 2017-2018 Jessie Richardson Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor, as well as a nomination for Best Direction. Notable film & TV credits include: Lucas Ingram on Showcase’s Continuum, Larry Summers on Blue Mountain State and lending his voice to the Black Panther in multiple animated projects (Marvel). Most recently, Omari has a recurring role as Nate on Corner Gas (the animated series) and a recurring role as Corvus of Netflix’s hit new animated series The Dragon Prince.
Maryse Warda, Juror
Maryse Warda was born and raised in Egypt. She landed in Montreal at age nine where she learned English watching Happy Days. In 1991, Pierre Bernard, artistic director of the Théâtre de Quat’Sous, hired her as his assistant, and gave her a first shot at translation – Cindy Lou Johnson’s Brilliant Traces – thus changing the course of her life.
She has since translated more than 70 plays. She was instrumental in bringing the works of Canadian writers such as Daniel Brooks, John Mighton, Morris Panych, Erin Shields and George F. Walker to francophone audiences. She has also translated works from American, British, Irish and Scottish playwrights such as Christopher Durang, Margaret Edson, David Greig, David Hare, David Mamet, Douglas Maxwell, Harold Pinter, Philip Ridley and Simon
Stephens. Her translations are celebrated for being faithful to the original, while making effective yet unostentatious use of the Quebec idiom.
Her translation of George F. Walker’s Suburban Motel series earned her an award in 2000 from the Académie québécoise du théâtre, and was shortlisted for the 2001 Governor General’s Literary Award. But it’s her translation of Greg MacArthur’s The Toxic Bus Incident which received the GG in 2011.
Marcia Babineau, Juror
After graduating from the Université de Moncton’s School of Dramatic Art, Marcia Babineau went on to study at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute in New York. A multifaceted artist, actress, director and educator, she is the Artistic Director and one of the founding members of Théâtre l’Escaouette.
As an actress, Marcia has more than 40 stage acting credits, including her more recent roles in Pour une fois and Laurie ou la vie de galerie. Her memorable film performances include Les Années Noires and Madame Latour. A passionate creator, Marcia Babineau has also directed some thirty productions including Les Remugles, Winslow, Oleanna, Ne jamais nager seul, Les débuts de Loretta, Le jeu de la Mélancolie, Mistero Buffo, Cul de Sac, La vieille femme près de la voie ferrée, Vie d ‘Cheval and Des Nouvelles de Copenhague. She taught acting at the Université de Moncton’s School of Dramatic Art from 2007 to 2021, during which time she took the helm of the department as its director from 2016 to 2021.