Press Release: $100,000 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre Awarded to Playwright Joan MacLeod. MacLeod chooses Anusree Roy to receive $25,000 as protégé.

From Press Release

TORONTO, November 7, 2011 – BMO Financial Group today announced that Victoria-based playwright Joan MacLeod has been selected as the recipient of the 2011 Elinore & Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, the largest theatre award in the country. This is the 11th year the Siminovitch Prize has been awarded, with $1.1 million in prizes awarded to enhance the Canadian theatre industry.

Ms. MacLeod was chosen from a short list of six finalists including Robert Chafe (Newfoundland), Jasmine Dubé (Quebec), Greg MacArthur (Alberta/Quebec), Mansel Robinson (Saskatchewan) and Larry Tremblay (Quebec).

“In choosing Joan MacLeod as the winner of the Siminovitch Prize for 2011, the jury wanted to recognize Joan’s unique voice, her masterful storytelling, and the impact that her work has had among audiences in Canada and beyond,” said Maureen Labonté, Jury Chair. “Joan is a master of expressing the profoundest human emotions, putting to paper the vulnerability, the compassion, the weaknesses and strengths of the human spirit. Moreover, as a teacher, mentor, and role model, she has no doubt inspired a generation of new Canadian theatre artists.” 

Ms. MacLeod has been recognized nationally for her work. Her plays include: Jewel, Toronto, Mississippi, Amigo’s Blue Guitar, The Hope Slide, Little Sister, 2000, The Shape of a Girl, Homechild and Another Home Invasion. Her work has been translated into eight languages and she has been the recipient of numerous awards, including two Chalmers Canadian Play Awards, the Governor General’s Award, the Betty Mitchell Award, the Dora Mavor Moore Award and the Jessie Richardson Award.

“For well over a decade now my time to write has been steadily diminishing. The Siminovitch Award changes all that. What a generous and perfect gift. What a great reminder of what drew me to writing in the first place; there is joy to be found in creating a piece of writing — and that is something that Elinore Siminovitch knew intimately,” said Ms. MacLeod.

Ms. MacLeod received a cheque for $75,000 at a gala ceremony this evening in Toronto. She selected Toronto-based Anusree Roy as her protégé, who received $25,000. The Siminovitch Prize is set up in this way to put an emphasis on the role of mentorship in Canadian theatre.

“From all of us at BMO Financial Group, I would like to congratulate Ms. MacLeod on her outstanding achievements and contribution to the Canadian stage,” said Gilles Ouellette, President and CEO, Private Client Group, BMO Financial Group. “Joan exemplifies the spirit of the Siminovitch Prize through the excellence, imagination and passion for theatre demonstrated in her work. Her extraordinary voice and vision showcase the talent Canada has to offer, which deserves continued recognition and support.”


About Joan MacLeod 

Ms. MacLeod was born and raised in North Vancouver. She has travelled extensively in Europe, northern Africa, and northern Canada, which is reflected in much of her work. She graduated from the University of Victoria in 1978, studying fiction with acclaimed Canadian authors Bill Valgardson and David Godfrey. She began graduate school at the University of British Columbia’s Department of Creative Writing in 1981 with a focus on prose, but also began writing and publishing poetry. In 1984, she went to Banff’s Advanced Writers’ Studio in Poetry, where she decided on a life in the theatre.

Early in Ms. MacLeod’s career, she was a playwright-in-residence at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre for seven years before returning to settle in British Columbia. Since 2004, she has taught at the University of Victoria in the Department of Writing. She also writes poetry, prose and for television.

The Tarragon Theatre production of her play Another Home Invasion is currently on a national tour. The Shape of a Girl is also back touring with Vancouver’s Green Thumb Theatre this year; it has been produced continuously since its premiere in 2001.


About Anusree Roy, Protégé

Toronto-based Anusree Roy’s playwright and performance credits include: Brothel # 9 (Factory Theatre), Roshni (Theatre Passe Muraille); Letters to my Grandma (Theatre Passe Muraille) and Pyaasa (Theatre Passe Muraille). Ms. Roy was a performer in the Dora-nominated 9 Parts of Desire and Necessary Angel’s Tout Comme Elle. Her operas Noor over Afghan and The Golden Boy premiered at Opera Briefs in Toronto in 2011.

Ms. Roy is the Co-Artistic Director of Theatre Jones Roy. She won the RBC Emerging Artist Award in 2009, the K.M. Hunter Artist Award for 2011 and the Carol Bolt Prize for 2011. Her plays Brothel # 9 and Pyaasa have each won Dora Awards for Outstanding New Play, and the latter also won a Dora Award for Outstanding Performance.

She has been the Playwright-in-Residence at the Canadian Stage Company, Theatre Passe Muraille and Blyth Festival. She was recently commissioned by Young Peoples’ Theatre in Toronto to write her first Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) play. 

About the 2011 Siminovitch Prize Jury

This year’s jury was led by Maureen Labonté, a Montreal-based translator, teacher and dramaturge with extensive theatre experience in English and French Canadian communities across the country. She presided as jury chair for the third consecutive year. Other members of the jury included:

  • Yvette Nolan, award-winning playwright, dramaturge, director and educator, was the Artistic Director of Native Earth Performing Arts from 2003-2011 and was recently awarded the City of Toronto’s Aboriginal Affairs Award.
  • Carole Fréchette, 2002 recipient of the Siminovitch Prize, is a Montreal-based playwright and has been a force in Québec theatre for more than 25 years.
  • Craig Holzschuh has worked as director, playwright, actor and designer and has been Artistic and Managing Director of Théâtre la Seizième in Vancouver since 2001.
  • Scott Burke is an award-winning director, playwright and producer and is the out-going Artistic Producer of Eastern Front Theatre in Halifax, curator of the SuperNova Theatre Festival, and a founding member of In Good Company.
  • Vanessa Porteous has worked extensively as a director and dramaturge. She is presently Artistic Director of Calgary’s Alberta Theatre Projects since May 2009. Previously, she oversaw ATP’s annual Enbridge playRites Festival and the production of over 30 new Canadian plays.

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 – 2001
  • Montreal playwright Carole Fréchette – 2002
  • Montreal designer Louise Campeau – 2003
  • St. John’s director Jillian Keiley – 2004
  • Toronto playwright John Mighton – 2005
  • Toronto designer Dany Lyne – 2006
  • Montréal director Brigitte Haentjens – 2007
  • Toronto playwright Daniel MacIvor – 2008
  • Calgary and Toronto designer Ronnie Burkett – 2009
  • Vancouver director Kim Collier – 2010

About BMO and the Arts

BMO Financial Group is one of Canada’s largest corporate benefactors, and a major contributor to arts and culture. In 2010, BMO contributed more than $54 million in donations and sponsorships. BMO’s funding supports numerous cultural charities and organizations, ranging from grants for music and art programs in schools, to sustaining grants for national cultural institutions.

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