J. Kelly Nestruck | The Globe and Mail | September 20, 2018
The Siminovitch Prize, the richest in Canadian theatre, has announced a shortlist of very diverse designers for its 2018 edition.
Itai Erdel, Stéphanie Jasmin, Camellia Koo and Alexander MacSween, the four nominees vying for the $100,000 award this year, are mid-career artists best known for their work in different aspects of design – lighting, video, sets and sound, respectively.
“These four artists embody the future-focused spirit of the Siminovitch Prize,” jury chair and former Alberta Theatre Projects artistic director Vanessa Porteous said. “Though still very much in the midst of their journey, they have already made their mark on audiences, peers and the art form itself.”
Two of the Siminovitch nominees are artistic directors in addition to doing design work.
Erdel, whose résumé includes the lighting for 10 productions at the Stratford Festival, also runs Elbow Theatre out of Vancouver. The winner of four Jessie Richardson Awards is best known for his play How To Disappear Completely, in which he used design to explore the final months of his mother’s life.
Montreal-based designer Jasmin is co-artistic director of the UBU theatre company with acclaimed director Denis Marleau. She has designed the innovative video for more than 30 UBU productions (as well as the sets for half of them).
Koo, a Toronto-based designer, has won six Dora Mavor Moore Awards and worked at companies such as Factory Theatre, the Stratford Festival and the Canadian Opera Company. Her out-of-this-world set design for the Shaw Festival’s 2017 production of Will Eno’s Middletown will be seen again in a revival of the show at Crow’s Theatre later this fall.
MacSween, a sound designer, composer and musician, has straddled the Quebec and Ontario theatre scenes with his work, collaborating with directors from Robert Lepage to Daniel Brooks, and theatres from Le Nouveau Théâtre Experimental to the Stratford Festival. He is a past winner of a Prix Gascon-Roux for outstanding music and sound design.
Each year’s winner of the Siminovitch Prize – given out in a three-year cycle to a director, playwright or designer – picks a protégé to share $25,000 of the prize money with. (Koo was selected as a Siminovitch protégé by winner Dany Lyne in 2006.) The 2018 winner and her or his protégé will be announced on Monday, Nov. 5 at the National Arts Centre in a ceremony hosted by playwright Tomson Highway.