Stage Door News

Ottawa: The laureate of the 2021 Siminovitch Prize is Gillian Gallow

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Tonight, set and costume designer Gillian Gallow was named the 2021 Laureate of the Siminovitch Prize, Canada’s largest and most prestigious theatre award.

“The Siminovitch Prize is an astounding investment in Canadian theatre artists and is a recognition of the value of theatre in our cultural landscape,” Gallow said. “I’m overwhelmed and honoured to be this year’s Laureate. This recognition emboldens me to persevere, to challenge and to risk.”

Gillian Gallow is a Toronto-based artist who most recently designed costumes for the Shaw Festival’s The Devil’s Disciple and set and costumes for the Dora award-winning production of Human Cargo’s The Runner. She is the 2018 recipient of the Virginia and Myrtle Cooper Award in Costume Design, and has been nominated for eight Dora Mavor Moore awards, receiving four. Gillian studied design for the theatre at York University and graduated with an honours BFA.

Other design credits include: Hadrian and Louis Riel (Canadian Opera Company); An Octoroon, The Russian Play and Stage Kiss (Shaw Festival); Long Day’s Journey Into Night, The Physicists, The Three Musketeers, and Hirsch (Stratford Festival); King Lear, Stuff Happens and Thirsty (National Arts Centre); Idomeneus, The Testament of Mary and Incident at Vichy (Soulpepper); A Christmas Carol, Million Dollar Quartet, Hand to God and Seminar (Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre); The Runner, The Road To Paradise and Night (Human Cargo); One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Theatre Calgary/Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre), The Kite Runner (Theatre Calgary/Citadel Theatre); A Christmas Carol, Pride and Prejudice and Cinderella (Grand Theatre).

The Siminovitch Prize is a celebration of Canadian theatre and represents the highest level of peer recognition in the profession. This year’s jury (Vanessa Porteous, Catherine Bourgeois, Jenny Jiminez, James Lavoie, Corey Payette) selected Gillian Gallow, from peer nominations submitted for exceptional artists working in English and French across the country.

“Gillian’s designs reveal hidden themes, paradoxes, and even contradictions,” Jury Chair Vanessa Porteous said. “They tap into the deepest forces at work in the piece. She’s a teacher, a mentor, and a keen and open-spirited collaborator with a noted ability to communicate with production teams.” The jury also remarked upon her work on complex intercultural projects, in which her collaborators praised her respect, dedication, and care.

The announcement took place during a virtual event earlier this evening featuring mini documentaries about each of the ground-breaking female designers shortlisted for the 2021 Siminovitch Prize: Linda Brunelle, Nancy Bryant, Gillian Gallow, and Michelle Ramsay.

Over a three-year cycle, the annual $100,000 Siminovitch Prize is awarded to a professional mid-career director, playwright, or designer whose work is transformative and influential. The Prize also recognizes the importance of mentorship and developing talent; the Laureate receives $75,000 and selects an emerging artist to receive the $25,000 Siminovitch Protégé Prize, presented by the RBC Foundation.

Gallow has chosen not one but two Siminovitch Prize Protégés to share the honour this year; Joshua Quinlan, a London-based set and costume designer, and Joyce Padua, a Toronto-based set and costume designer.

Thanks to a new partnership among the Siminovitch Prize, the National Arts Centre, and the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, the 2021 Siminovitch Prize Laureate and Protégés are also being given the opportunity to come together and collaborate during a week-long artist residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in 2022.

A BFA graduate of York University, Joyce Padua’s work has been featured in a broad range of playing spaces—including shows with Factory Theatre, Canadian Stage, Thousand Islands Playhouse, and the Stratford Festival. Padua was the Canadian representative at the 2019 Beijing International Biennale of the International Stage Design Students’ Work Exchange. Most recently she made her costume design debut at the Shaw Festival with Desire Under the Elms. Padua is interested and committed to opening doors for diverse theatre makers.

Since 2016, Joshua Quinlan has assisted many of Canada’s leading designers for theatres coast to coast, including Terra Bruce, Mirvish, the National Ballet of Canada, Arts Club, Blyth Festival, Globe Theatre, Edmonton Opera, Manitoba Opera. He has assisted on twenty productions over five seasons at the Stratford Festival. Quinlan is a recipient of the 2019 Tom Patterson Award and the 2017 Ian and Molly Lindsay Fellowship, and in 2020, he was a Pauline McGibbon Award nominee. Quinlan is a graduate of University of Windsor, and he completed his M.F.A. in Theatre – Design at Ohio State University.

Through its RBC Emerging Artists Project, the RBC Foundation supports the Siminovitch Prize’s Emerging Artist Mentorship Program focused on talent development, network development, learning and promotion.

“During these evolving times, we continue to be guided by our purpose of helping our clients thrive and our communities prosper,” said Mark Beckles, Vice-President, Social Impact & Innovation, RBC. “Emerging and established artists across Canada are inspiring us with their creativity, resilience, and commitment to their craft in the face of immense challenges. Through the RBC Emerging Artist Project, we are proud to partner with the Siminovitch Prize to continue recognizing excellence and providing the right mentorship and support, where it’s needed most.”

Where theatre audiences can see their work

Gillian Gallow:

No Change in the Weather, Mirvish, November 2021

The Runner, Tarragon Theatre, January 2022

The Runner, Great Canadian Theatre Company, February – March 2022

The Runner, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, March – April 2022

The Importance of Being Earnest, Shaw Festival, 2022 Season

The Doctor’s Dilemma, Shaw Festival, 2022 Season

Beautiful Renegades, Peggy Baker Dance Projects, September 2022

Joshua Quinlan:

No Change in the Weather, Mirvish, November 2021

Swan Lake, National Ballet of Canada, June 2022

Joyce Padua:

Desire Under the Elms, Shaw Festival, November - December, 2021

Year of the Rat, Factory Theatre, February - March, 2022

Too True to Be Good, Shaw Festival, 2022 Season

"The Siminovitch Prize Foundation congratulates Linda Brunelle, Nancy Bryant, Michelle Ramsay, Gillian Gallow, Joyce Padua, and Joshua Quinlan each of whom embodies the concept of experimentation and the spirit of invention that are fused together in the Siminovitch Prize,” George Thomson, Chair of the Siminovitch Prize Foundation Board of Directors said. “We look forward to witnessing the significant contributions they will surely make to theatre in Canada for years."

Photo: Gillian Gallow.