Stage Door News

Banff: Nightswimming Artistic Director Brian Quirt receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Nightswimming’s founder and Artistic Director Brian Quirt has been honoured with the Lessing Award for Lifetime Achievement in the field of dramaturgy by Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas. LMDA is North America’s service organization for dramaturgs in the performing arts with more than 500 members across Canada, the United States and Mexico.

At LMDA’s recent international conference at the Banff Centre, which Brian also co-chaired, he was recognized for his decades of service to LMDA – as both President and Board Chair, and as founder of LMDA Canada, among many other contributions – as well as for his accomplishments with Nightswimming, his mentorship of countless dramaturgs and collaborations with countless playwrights, and for his dramaturgical work across Canada and beyond.

Brian’s own speech, in which he articulates his vision of dramaturgical thinking, the power of hosting, and speaks movingly of herons and magpies and hummingbirds, can be read in full on the LMDA website.

A few excerpts from Brian in celebration of this wonderful recognition:

“As I dramaturged Nightswimming many years ago (with my friend and colleague Naomi) into its current forms, I now see that I started to design for others a freedom that I sought for myself – and I am very very fortunate to have been able to sustain this, this Nightswimming, with the unbelievable contributions of Naomi, Rupal, Brittany, Leslie, and many others, and now Gloria."

“I applied that desire for freedom to the artists I worked with, seeking a way to elevate and valorise and listen to what they wanted to do and how they wanted to do it. To acknowledge what I know and can offer, but to place that in a zone that made us as equal as possible in the pursuit of the play, story, dance, song, salsa, whatever. If I can offer anything to this moment, to all of you, to the field and to those I work with, it is the essence of partnership, of working together, of hosting, of committing to find a way to work that isn’t ‘new’ but is unique to the voices of those who seek to bring it to life."

“My example, if anything, is an example of the power of dramaturgical thinking. It takes a life to shape, and I hope that in getting to this moment I have shared it with those who will take it in other powerful potent directions and surprise and shock me with how they – you – wield it in the future.”

Nightswimming is devoted to exploring the boundaries of theatrical storytelling. As a dramaturgical company with a national mandate focused on theatrical creation, performance and research, it imagines new forms and creates powerful, moving and beautiful works of performance. We have commissioned and developed 35 projects that have received 120 productions and runs at theatres and festivals in Toronto and across the country from Victoria to Whitehorse to St. John’s.

Photo: Brian Quirt. © 2023 Erin Brubacher.