Stage Door News

Ottawa: Shortlist announced for the 2019 Siminovitch Prize in directing

Monday, September 23, 2019

The Siminovitch Prize Foundation and the National Arts Centre today announced the shortlist for this year’s award in the category of directing. The jury has selected five outstanding directors as finalists for the esteemed theatre prize, now celebrating its 19th year of honouring excellence and innovation in Canadian theatre.

For the first time in its history, the Siminovitch Prize announces a team of collaborators on its list of finalists – Maiko Yamamoto and James Long, co-artistic directors of Theatre Replacement in Vancouver BC. They join Christian Barry, Co-Founder and Artistic Co-Director of 2b theatre company; Ravi Jain, Founding Artistic Director of Why Not Theatre; and Christian Lapointe, Artistic Director of Théâtre Carte blanche, on the shortlist for Canada’s most prestigious theatre award.

“All the artists on the short list exemplify the dazzling inventiveness and originality within the art form of directing theatre in Canada today,” said Jury Chair Vanessa Porteous. “It makes sense that the jury of a forward-thinking award like the Siminovitch Prize, one that celebrates artists in the full flight of their creative lives, should select this short list. It bristles with talent, potential, and influence. These artists are remaking the world around us as we speak. They show us the possibilities. We do not yet know the limits of their impact – on the audience, the art form, and on all of us.”

The 2019 jury is comprised of Calgary theatre director Vanessa Porteous (Chair), theatre artist Marie Farsi (Toronto); Indigenous interdisciplinary artist Emilie Monnet (Montreal); screenwriter, playwright and translator Bobby Theodore (Toronto); and theatre artist Adrienne Wong (Banff). They described the directors on the 2019 shortlist as “all magnificent, and magnificently different. They push the boundaries of what theatre can be now. They make us interrogate the role of the director, and the role theatre can play in our society and our world.”

The Siminovitch Prize shines a spotlight on excellence and innovation in Canadian theatre with an annual prize of $100,000.The Prize also recognizes the importance of mentorship to support emerging talent. The recipient receives $75,000 and, in turn, chooses a protégé to receive $25,000.


This year, a celebration of the finalists will be held on October 28, 2019 at Hart House, University of Toronto, a proud partner of the Siminovitch Prize since its inception. The 2019 Siminovitch Prize laureate will be announced at a ceremony on Thursday, November 21, 2019 at the National Arts Centre.



Christian Barry (Halifax, NS)

Christian Barry is a multi-award winning director and theatre-maker from Halifax, Nova Scotia. He is a co-founder and artistic co-director of 2b theatre company. Christian’s productions have played at renowned festivals and theatres around the world including Bristol Old Vic, Edinburgh Fringe, Sydney Festival, Tarragon Theatre, Citadel Theatre, Magnetic North Festival, PuSh, Noorderzon, Aarhus Festival, Theaterformen Hanover, Luminato, World Stage, and 59E59 (Off-Broadway in New York City).
Christian won the 2019 Toronto Theatre Critics Circle Awards for Best Director and Best New Musical.

He was nominated for six Drama Desk Awards in 2018, including Best Director and Best Production. He won a Dora Award for Outstanding Production, and was nominated for an Outstanding Director Dora. Christian received the 2008 Halifax Mayor’s award for an Emerging Artist, the 2006-7 Urjo Kareda residency grant at the Tarragon Theatre, and the 2018 NS Masterworks Award -- the highest honour for the Arts in the province.


Ravi Jain (Toronto, ON)

Ravi Jain is a multi-award-winning artist known for making politically bold and accessible theatrical experiences in both small indie productions and large theatres. As the founding artistic director of Why Not Theatre, Ravi has established himself as an artistic leader for his inventive productions, internationalproducing/collaborations and innovative producing models which are aimed to better support emerging artists to make money from their art. In all of his work, exemplified by projects like A Brimful of Asha and his reimagining of classics like Hamlet and Salt-Water Moon, is Ravi’s passion to inspire Canadians to look at new ways of representing Canada on national and international stages. Currently he is working on a new adaptation of The Mahabharata with the Shaw Festival and a new project with David Suzuki and his wife Tara Cullis. Ravi won the 2012 Pauline McGibbon Award for Emerging Director and the 2016 Canada Council John Hirsch Prize for direction.


Christian Lapointe (Quebec, QC)

After founding le Théâtre Péril in 2000, Christian Lapointe has run le Théâtre Carte blanche in Québec City since 2013. Since 2001, he has directed some 30productions, drawing principally on the symbolist repertoire (Yeats, Maeterlinck, Villiers de l'Isle Adam) and the contemporary repertoire (Crimp, Viripaev, Duras, Arsenault, Handke, Sauvageau), while also directing productions of his own plays.

His productions, in which text holds a predominant place, borrow from performance art and are conceived from theatrical settings that often approach installation video. He also devotes part of his time to passing the torch to younger artists through masterclasses, courses and directing at various places, including at l’École supérieure de théâtre, where he is a professor, and at the National Theatre School of Canada. In 2009, he took part in the official programming for the Festival d'Avignon. In 2015, he gave a 70-hour ongoing performance reading of the works of Antonin Artaud within the framework of the Festival TransAmériques. In 2018 and 2019, in coproduction with some 10 Québécois theatres, he directed the project Constituons ! in collaboration with l'Institut du Nouveau Monde. In that project, an assembly made up equally of men and women chosen at random and representing the Québec population from all across the province, was brought together to write the first Constitution of the citizens of Québec. This was officially delivered to the Assemblée nationale du Québec on 29 May, 2019. The play Constituons !, performed and directed by the artist, relates the ups and downs of this vast adventure, which juxtaposes art and citizenship in the testing ground of the theatre as a popular agora.


Maiko Yamamoto and James Long (Vancouver, BC)

For more than 20 years, Maiko Yamamoto and James Long have been making experimental, intercultural and interdisciplinary works of theatre. Whether working together or apart, the pair use extended processes to create performances from intentionally simple beginnings with both new and existing collaborators. Their work is about a genuine attempt to coexist. Conversations, interviews and arguments collide with Yamamoto and Long’s aesthetics, resulting in theatrical experiences that are authentic, immediate and hopeful. They founded Theatre Replacement in 2003. The company’s work has been presented in 43 cities and venues across the world. As freelance artists, they have directed, written, taught and created performance with a diverse range of companies and institutions.  Both are graduates of SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts Theatre Program. Yamamoto has a Masters of Applied Arts in Visual Art from Emily Carr University of Art & Design, and Long holds a Master’s Degree in Urban Studies, also from SFU.



The Siminovitch Prize was launched in 2000 to honour the values and achievements of the renowned scientist Lou Siminovitch and the late Elinore Siminovitch, a pioneering playwright.  Over a three-year cycle, the Siminovitch Prize celebrates a professional director, playwright or designer who is an acknowledged leader in the theatre and whose work is transformative and influential. The 2018 Prize was awarded to designer Stéphanie Jasmin and protégé Max-Otto Fauteux.

In 2016, the Prize began a partnership with the National Arts Centre, which acts as a catalyst for performance, creation and learning across the country. Furthering the tradition of mentorship within the Prize, a group of directing students from both the Anglophone and Francophone programs of the National Theatre School of Canada will participate in workshops with nominees of the Prize.

Both the NAC’s English Theatre and French Theatre are led by Siminovitch Prize laureates – Jillian Keiley (2004) and Brigitte Haentjens (2007). In fact, since the Prize’s inception in 2001, works from all its laureates have graced the national stage at the NAC.

Twitter: @SiminovitchPrix
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