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Newfoundland director Jillian Keiley has been honoured this year's recipient of the $100,000 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre -- the most generous arts award in the country.

The Jury described Ms. Keiley's work as "startlingly original and radically imaginative."

Keiley was called a "visionary, innovative artist whose experiments with form and content have magical results for audiences and performers alike.

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"Simultaneously cerebral and visceral, her productions explore the parameters of theatre art, often with powerful effect," the five-member panel said in its citation.

Keiley was selected from a shortlist of five Canadian directors chosen from 59 of the country's top directors -- the largest number of nominees ever to be considered for this prize.

The list included Lois Brown, another director from St. John's, Eric Jean and Martin Faucher (both of Montreal) and Alisa Palmer of Toronto.

The annual award recognizes theatrical achievement in a three-year cycle and alternates between directors, playwrights and designers.

The winner donates one quarter of the $100,000 stipend to a protégé or organization of their choice. Keiley is giving her protégé, fellow Newfoundland director Danielle Irvine, $25,000.

Keiley is the founding artistic director of Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland, where she has worked almost exclusively on new productions from original scripts and scores created for the company by playwright Robert Chafe and composer Petrina Bromley.

Favourite Artistic Fraud productions include In Your Dreams Freud, Under Wraps: A Spoke Opera, The Cheat, Burial Practices, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Chekhov Variations, Icycle, and Belly Up.

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Keiley's earlier awards include the Canada Council's 1997 John Hirsch Prize and being named the 1996 Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council's Emerging Artist of the Year.

For the past decade, she has worked with Artistic Fraud to develop a unique, mathematic and music-based choreography and directing system called Kaleidography. She has spent the last six years teaching this system at universities and professional training institutes across the country.

She was schooled at Memorial University and The National Theatre School of Canada, where she specialized in chorus. The Siminovitch Prize was founded in 2001 by renowned medical scientist Lou Siminovitch in honour of his late wife Elinore, who was a playwright.

The jurors look at the nominees' originality, sense of evolution, growing maturity, continuing experimentation, impact on audiences, and influence on younger artists.

They also consider whether the artist is at a point in his or her professional career where the resources associated with the prize will enable the artist to go further in the pursuit of his or her craft.

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