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An artistic leader in her home province of Quebec, Marie Brassard's work has also travelled across Canada, Europe, and Japan.Supplied

Marie Brassard has been named the 2022 winner of the Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, an award for mid-career artists that has as its main claim to fame a cash award of $100,000.

But the Quebec director, playwright and actor says the real gift of the prize is time.

“In the cultural industry, we often feel pressure to be producing more and in a more efficient way – but we also have to remind ourselves that creating a work of art, it takes time,” she told The Globe and Mail in advance of Thursday evening’s award ceremony.

“Money buys time. … This money, it is like I am receiving time.”

Ms. Brassard, 63, has been a significant voice in Quebec theatre since she graduated from the Conservatoire d’Art Dramatique de Québec in the 1980s. In the first phrase of her career, she was best known as a close collaborator of the director Robert Lepage on collective creations such as The Dragons’ Trilogy and The Seven Streams of the River Ota that toured around the world.

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The Invisible, one of Brassard's solo shows, has been seen across Canada.Véro Boncompagni/Courtesy the artist

In 2001, however, Ms. Brassard broke out on her own, founding her own creation company, Infrarouge. She found immediate success with a dreamlike multimedia solo show that played with sound manipulation technology. Called Jimmy, créature de rêve, it toured across Canada and internationally in French and English versions after its debut in Montreal.

Other solo shows of Ms. Brassard’s seen across Canada include Peepshow (created in 2003) and The Invisible (2008).

But some of her more recent work has not yet travelled as widely within the country. La fureur de ce que je pense (The Fury of My Thoughts), a widely acclaimed 2013 production based on the writings of Quebec author Nelly Arcan featuring six actresses and a dancer, has been seen in Europe and toured around Japan in a spinoff production Ms. Brassard created with Japanese artists.

That show is currently back on stage in Montreal at Espace Go and will the play at Le Diamant in Quebec City later this month. “I dream about bringing it to Toronto – I’m just waiting for the invitation,” says Ms. Brassard, who hopes the Siminovitch Prize might lead to one.

While her theatrical practice extends beyond direction, Ms. Brassard is being recognized in a year in which directors were shortlisted. (The prize is given out on a three-year cycle to directors, designers and playwrights.) The other finalists – Ravi Jain, Ann-Marie Kerr and Sherry J. Yoon – will each receive $5,000.

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Protégé co-winner Philippe Boutin.Rupert Lamontagne./Supplied

As per the structure of the Siminovitch Prize, Ms. Brassard has chosen a “protégé” who will receive $25,000 of her award: Philippe Boutin, a Montreal-based director, actor, author and teacher.

Mr. Boutin is known for large-scale work such as Détruire, nous allons, which involved 40 actors performing on a football field, and Le Vin herbé, an opera-theatre hybrid that had a cast of close to 70.

Ms. Brassard has been impressed by the poetry and ambition of Mr. Boutin’s work, and hopes the prize will give him a boost in terms of visibility outside of Quebec. “I really like the way the Siminovitch Prize is conceived, the way it works, that you have to share your prize,” she says. “It is important to share the knowledge of the younger generation.”

The 2022 Siminovitch jury was chaired by Ontario-based director and playwright Guillermo Verdecchia; the other judges were Marcia Babineau, Omari Newton, Genevieve Pelletier and Maryse Warda.

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