The short list for the country’s richest theatre award was announced Thursday. Contending for the Siminovitch Prize are playwrights d’bi.young anitafrika, Mishka Lavigne, Berni Stapleton and David Yee.
The $100,000 prize is awarded annually to a mid-career professional artist whose work contributes to advancing the art form. The winning laureate receives $75,000 and selects an emerging artist, a protégé, to receive $25,000 and a year of coaching and counsel.
The Siminovitch is given out on a three-year cycle to directors, playwrights and designers. Quebec’s Marie Brassard won for directing in 2022. Toronto-based set and costume designer Gillian Gallow was 2021′s laureate. Calgary-based Indigenous playwright Tara Beagan won in 2020.
A three-time winner of the Dora Mavor Moore Award, anitafrika is a dub poet, activist and author of 12 plays, seven albums and four collections of poetry. Currently a PhD candidate, the founding artistic director of Watah Theatre is a theatre scholar.
Lavigne is a playwright, screenwriter and literary translator. Her play Copeaux, produced by Ottawa’s Théâtre de Dehors, received a Governor-General’s Literary Award in 2021. Havre, created at La Troupe du Jour in Saskatoon, was awarded the same prize in 2019.
Plays written by St. John’s-based Stapleton include Offensive to Some, Woman in a Monkey Cage, Brazil Square and The Pope and Princess Di. She is the artistic director of feminist theatre company Girl Power and co-artistic director of the Grand Falls-Windsor Theatre Project.
Toronto’s Yee is the co-founding artistic director of the Asian-Canadian fu-GEN Theatre Company. His new play Acts of Faith is being presented next month at the American Stage Theatre Company in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The 2023 Siminovitch jury is comprised of Leanna Brodie, Jessica Hill, Rosa Laborde, Mani Soleymanlou and jury chair Guillermo Verdecchia. The winner will be revealed Dec. 4.
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