The Siminovitch Prize, the most lucrative award in Canadian theatre, has announced its first short list since its surprise resurrection this summer.
Chris Abraham of Toronto, Marie-Josée Bastien of Quebec City and Benoît Vermeulen of Montreal are the three mid-career directors in contention for this year's $100,000 award, a quarter of which is earmarked for a protégé of the winner's choice. The 2013 recipient will be announced on Oct. 21 in Toronto.
Abraham, artistic director of Crow's Theatre, is the best known in English Canada. His Othello received rave reviews this summer at the Stratford Festival, while his production of Winners and Losers with Vancouver artists James Long and Marcus Youssef recently completed a European tour and opens at Toronto's Canadian Stage in November.
The other two finalists for the Siminovitch also run their own independent companies. Artistic director of Théâtre Les Enfants Terribles in Quebec City, Bastien has received acclaim for bringing classics such as Richard III and Hamlet to the stage, as well as her own texts such as On achève bien les chevaux and Carpe Diem.
With his company Le Théâtre Clou, Vermeulen's productions for adolescent audiences, created in collaboration with such well-regarded playwrights as Wajdi Mouawad and Olivier Choinière, have toured internationally.
The Siminovitch Prize was founded to honour Toronto scientist Lou Siminovitch and his late wife, playwright Elinore Siminovitch. From 2001, the prize was handed out in a three-year cycle to directors, playwrights and designers in mid-career – until, last year, its founders quietly announced that the 2012 edition would be its last.
In July, however, Lou Siminovitch announced that the award would return thanks to a new partnership with the University of Toronto and the RBC Foundation.
In its short life, the Siminovitch has proven to be very influential in Canadian theatre. Two previous winners of the prize for direction – Jillian Keiley and Brigitte Haentjens – were recently installed as artistic directors of the National Arts Centre's English and French theatres, respectively.