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Jury Announced for 2006 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, Canada's Largest Annual Arts Award

The Jury for the 2006 Elinore & Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre was announced today. Sponsored by BMO Financial Group, the $100,000 prize – the largest in Canadian theatre – will be presented this year to a designer who has made a significant contribution to theatre in Canada. The jury will consider nominations received by June 14, 2006.

“On behalf of the Founders of the Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, I am delighted to announce that Leonard McHardy will serve as Jury Chair for the fourth consecutive year,” said Tony Comper, President and Chief Executive Officer, BMO Financial Group. “Once again, he has assembled an impressive group of distinguished members of the theatre community who will serve as jurors for the prize.”

”The Siminovitch Prize is honoured to announce a jury whose experience in the theatre is extremely diverse and whose contribution to the arts in Canada is highly creative and uniquely personal,” said Mr. McHardy.

The jury is comprised of Luc Boulanger, author and well-known journalist in Montreal's media community; Mary Kerr, a distinguished production designer whose work has been seen on stages across Canada and throughout the world; Diana Leblanc, an actress and director who has received acclaim in French and English throughout the country; and Keith Turnbull, a director, dramaturge and producer committed to contemporary and new work in both theatre and opera. Juror biographies are included at the end of the press release.

The Jury will accept nominations of professional lighting, costume, set or sound designers who have advanced Canadian theatre through a body of work achieved in recent years while influencing and inspiring younger theatre artists.  In the preceding 10 years, nominees will have made a significant creative contribution to no fewer than three noteworthy theatre projects in Canada. The jurors will assess the nominees' originality, sense of evolution, growing maturity, continuing experimentation, impact upon audiences, and influence upon younger artists.

“The Siminovitch Prize is neither a life-time achievement nor an emerging artist award,” added Mr. McHardy. ”It is meant for an artist who is at a point in his or her professional career where the recognition and resources associated with the prize will make a significant difference, allowing and encouraging the artist to go further in the pursuit of his or her craft.”


Sherri Helwig, Executive Director of the Associated Designers of Canada, gratefully acknowledged the "forward-thinking recognition" that the Prize Founders and BMO have made of the "significant contributions of designers of sets, costumes, lighting and sound within Canadian theatre."  She said that "the Siminovitch Prize honours and brings to the forefront not only the work of those who are often unacknowledged, but also emphasizes the same ideals of excellence, collaboration and mentorship that designers - and others in the theatre community - hold so dear."

Describing the place of the designer on the Canadian theatre landscape, Mario Campbell, Coordonnateur of the Association des professionnels des arts de la sc�ne du Qu�bec (APASQ), said that “theatrical design is the environment, the interpreter's mental space. The Siminovitch Prize is important because it so generously supports the recipient theatre artists and advances design. APASQ is grateful for this recognition of artists too often overshadowed. We thank BMO Financial Group and the Prize Founders, who honour those who make it their business to think about theatrical space.”

Anyone can submit a nomination for the prize. Nomination forms are available online at The deadline for nominations is June 14, the short list will be announced at the end of September and the prize will be awarded on October 24 at a gala ceremony at University of Toronto's historic Hart House Theatre.

The Siminovitch Prize in Theatre was introduced in 2001 and dedicated to renowned scientist Lou Siminovitch and his late wife Elinore, a playwright.  Sponsored by BMO Financial Group, Canada's largest annual theatre arts award honours professional directors, playwrights and designers by acknowledging excellence and encouraging further exploration in Canadian theatre. The winner receives $100,000, of which one quarter is given to a prot�g� chosen by the recipient.

2006 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre Jury:

Leonard McHardy is a co-owner and co-founder of TheatreBooks in Toronto, a leading source of books on the performing arts in Canada for more than 30 years. Having acted and directed in Canada and the U.K., Mr. McHardy was invited to the Stratford Festival by Urjo Kareda and Robin Phillips to serve as Director of Press and Public Relations. He has served as a juror for the Dora Mavor Moore Awards in Toronto and the Chalmers Playwriting Awards. Currently he is the board President for the internationally acclaimed Necessary Angel Theatre Company. Mr. McHardy was also a board member and President of the Theatre Museum, and volunteers his time to numerous organizations, including PEN International.

Luc Boulanger is a well-known figure in Montreal's media community. In addition to publishing articles, interviews and profiles in a wide range of magazines including Ch�telaine, L'actualit� and Elle-Qu�bec, for 12 years Mr. Boulanger was the Theatre, Dance and Visual Arts editor for the Montreal cultural weekly Voir.

He is currently the Editor-in-Chief of VIA Destinations magazine, published by Les �ditions GESCA, and a contributor to the La Presse newspaper. He is frequently invited to appear on radio and television programs on the Radio-Canada, T�l�-Qu�bec and TVA networks. Mr. Boulanger is also the author of a compilation of interviews with Michel Tremblay, Pi�ces � conviction, published by Lem�ac in 2001, and contributed to a collection of essays on gay marriage, Les termes d'un d�bat, which was published by �ditions Liber / Le Devoir in 2004.

Mary Kerr has forged a distinguished career as a production designer in Canadian and International theatre, dance, opera, feature film, television, exhibition and special events design. Her sets and costumes have been seen at the Shaw, Stratford, Banff and Guelph Festivals and at most Toronto and major Canadian regional theatres. She has created for the Canadian Opera, the Vancouver Opera, The Banff Opera of the Twentieth Century, The Pacific Opera and The New Zealand Opera companies. Among her designs for dance are productions for the Paris Opera Ballet, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada and The Danny Grossman Dance Theatre Company in Toronto and New York. Ms Kerr has been the recipient of numerous theatre, film and television design awards including seven Dora Mavor Moore Awards, three Sterling awards and numerous Gemini and Gemeaux nominations. She is a Professor of Design at the University of Victoria Theatre Department.

Diana Leblanc has received acclaim as an actress and director for film, television and theatre across Canada. She has worked with Soulpepper Theatre Company (Zoo Story), Stratford Festival (Long Day's Journey into Night), Th��tre Fran�ais de Toronto (Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme), Saidye Bronfman Centre (Rose), Mirvish Productions (Copenhagen) and Tarragon Theatre (The Glass Menagerie) among others. Film and television roles include This is Wonderland, Snakes & Ladders, Trudeau II, More Tales Of The City, Further Tales Of The City, North Of 60 and La Maison Suspendue (Gemini Award). Ms Leblanc has also directed for the Calgary Opera, Pacific Opera Victoria, Canadian Opera Company, Opera Ontario, and the International Opera Centrum in Amsterdam. Ms Leblanc is a graduate of the National Theatre School, a former Artistic Director of Th��tre Fran�ais de Toronto, and a founding member of Soulpepper Theatre Company. She is also the recipient of the Prix Alliance de l'Alliance Fran�aise de Toronto.

Keith Turnbull is a director, dramaturge and producer committed to contemporary and new work in both theatre and opera. He was Artistic Director of the Manitoba Theatre Centre; of Second Stage, Neptune Theatre; and founding artistic director of the NDWT Co. with which he started a First Nations theatre company from which emerged many of Canada's most noted native performers and writers. He is the past Artistic Director/Executive Producer of Banff Theatre Arts. He has taught extensively throughout Canada.

He has directed over eighty plays in theatres across Canada and has directed opera/music theatre for Cultural Industries (Toronto), Music Theatre Wales, Pete� Chamber Opera (Sweden), Vale of Glamorgan Festival (Cardiff & Swansea), UK in NY Festival (New York) and Vancouver Opera. He is one of Canada's most experienced producers and directors of contemporary opera.

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