Four stage designers are up for the 2021 Siminovitch Prize, the theatre honour with the largest cash award in Canada.
Montreal’s Linda Brunelle, Vancouver’s Nancy Bryant and Toronto’s Gillian Gallow and Michelle Ramsay have all made the short list for this year’s $100,000 prize; the winner receives $75,000 and selects an emerging talent as a protégé, who receives $25,000. The winner is set to be announced on Dec. 2.
The work of the shortlisted designers “transcends the verbal: colour and composition, texture and silhouette, light and shadow,” jury chair Vanessa Porteous said in a statement. “All of these mid-career designers are virtuosic in their ability to suggest whole imaginative worlds for characters to manifest and stories to unfold.”
Both Brunelle and Bryant work in the realm of costume design.
Brunelle, who has been active in the field since 1990, has dressed character for a who’s who of Québécois theatre directors from Claude Poissant to Lorraine Pintal, as well as worked on circus extravaganzas such as Nebbia and ID for Cirque Éloize.
Bryant’s collaborators include the stage directors Morris Panych and Kim Collier – but she is perhaps best known for her work with the international superstar choreographer Crystal Pite on work such as Betroffenheit and Angels’ Atlas.
Both a set and costume designer, Gallow is in high demand at large-scale Ontario theatre companies such as the Stratford Festival and the Shaw Festival. Some of her most stunning work has been done, however, on small independent shows such as Human Cargo’s The Runner, for which she built a custom treadmill on which the whole play takes place. (That thriller reopens at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto in January.)
Ramsay, a lighting designer, has worked with theatre companies big and small all over Canada, from Theatre New Brunswick to the Grand Theatre in London, Ont. In Toronto, her work has garnered her eight Dora Mavor Moore Awards. She’s pivoted, too, to digital work such as Factory Theatre’s acts of faith, a livestreamed show getting a remount online next week.
The Siminovitch Prize is given out on a three-year cycle to a designer, a director or a playwright. This year’s jury helmed by Porteous, former artistic director of Alberta Theatre Projects, also included designers Catherine Bourgeois, Jenny Jimenez and James Lavoie as well as director and composer Corey Payette.
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