We are pleased to award this year’s Michelle Dias Community Service Award to Valerie Planche, who will be participating in our upcoming Women’s Directing Intensive at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity presented in partnership with Citadel Theatre. Valerie is a Calgary-based director, actor, and facilitator who has worked professionally in film, television, and theatre for close to 30 years. Originally from Montreal, she studied at The National Theatre School of Canada, Concordia University, and recently completed her graduate work, earning an MFA from the University of Alberta where she garnered a Graduate Teaching Award. In 2015 Valerie was nominated for the Gina Wilkinson Prize in directing. She has been a guest instructor for the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, and Ambrose University. Her recent directing credits include Skylight and Bad Jews (Theatre Calgary), Hanna’s Suitcase (Storybook Theatre), and Bordertown Café (Torchlight Theatre). Valerie is currently directing Constellations at Alberta Theatre Projects. Next season, she will direct Sweat by Lynn Nottage at the Citadel.
In addition to her stage work, Valerie is an active member of the Theatre Arts Collective for Consent and Respect, a committee formed to help shape policy, provide an avenue for advocacy, and act as a conduit between Calgary theatre artists, companies, and related organizations regarding gender, sexuality, sexual conduct, and sexual violence. The group has worked closely with the Calgary Sexual Health Centre to offer community consent conversations, as well as bystander training workshops and general advocacy.
The Michelle Dias Community Service Award is offered each year in memory of Ms. Dias, a respected colleague and true champion of Canadian theatre, who passed away 2011. It is awarded to a Rocky Mountain Series participant who demonstrates a selfless commitment to the Alberta theatre community and to sharing their knowledge with colleagues and peers. Michelle was deeply involved in Theatre Alberta’s educational programming, having spearheaded Safe Stages, our health and safety resource for theatres, as well as working with us frequently as an instructor. Workshops by Request: Rocky Mountain Series is a fitting envelope for the award in Michelle’s name. In addition to Michelle’s contributions to Theatre Alberta programs, Michelle was Head of Props for Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity from 1996 -2004. Michelle worked at Banff during the summer months, the rest of the year she was an integral part of the Citadel Theatre production team. At the Citadel, Michelle was the Head of Scenic Paint from Sept 1995 until her passing in September 2011.