$100,000 Siminovitch Prize Awarded to Director, Brigitte Haentjens

    Recipient Selects Quebec City Director and Montreal Ensemble as Protégés

    TORONTO, Oct. 29 /CNW/ - BMO Financial Group today announced that
director, Brigitte Haentjens has been named the 2007 recipient of the Elinore
& Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, Canada's largest annual theatre award. Ms.
Haentjens was chosen from a short-list of four finalists the jury selected
from 26 of Canada's top professional directors who received nominations. The
announcement was made during a ceremony this evening at First Canadian Place
in Toronto.
    "In choosing Brigitte Haentjens as the recipient of the 2007 Siminovitch
Prize, the jury wanted to recognize the prodigious virtuosity of her "écriture
scénique" (her work as a director/creator), as well as the profoundly human
character of her mission," explained Leonard McHardy, Jury Chair. "In
Brigitte's world, ideas bleed, bodies think, space throbs. This is écriture
scénique that defies classification; that displays a breathtaking tension
between meticulousness and brutality; and wherein people, even as they are
excited and inspired by the show itself, will find themselves forced to
question the very foundations of their existence, of their identity, without
any possible escape."
    Ms. Haentjens studied theatre in Paris before moving to Ontario in 1977,
serving as artistic director of the Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario for eight years.
From 1991 to 1994 she was artistic director of Nouvelle Compagnie Théâtrale in
Montréal, and from 1996 to 2006 she was artistic co-director for the Carrefour
International de Théâtre de Québec. Ms. Haentjens has also run her own theatre
company, Sibyllines, since 1997, intended as a vehicle to further explore her
artistic approach with greater freedom. She is currently working at Sibyllines
on a French production of Blasté by Sarah Kane, translated by Jean Marc Dalpé
and starring Paul Ahmarani, Céline Bonnier and Roy Dupuis, scheduled to open
in the spring of 2008.
    "Theatre has the effect on me of a cut, of a burn, of a punch, of a lash.
Theatre stimulates me, upsets me, and can even enrage me. Theatre has always
given me the desire to live, to create, to stand up and fight. In short,
theatre inspires every feeling in me except that of comfort," stated Ms.
Haentjens during her acceptance speech. "A prize like the Siminovitch Prize is
a wonderful stimulant, a wonderful encouragement, both symbolic and material."
    "On behalf of BMO Financial Group, a long-time supporter of the arts in
Canada, I am thrilled to congratulate Brigitte on this outstanding
achievement," said Gilles Ouellette, President and CEO, Private Client Group,
BMO Financial Group. "The Siminovitch Prize acknowledges excellence already
achieved, but it is designed with the future in mind. We hope it encourages
her to have the freedom to move to a new stage in her career.
    "Just as importantly, the prize is meant to encourage mentorship -
something that is very important to Dr. Lou Siminovitch and BMO. We would also
like to congratulate the protégés Brigitte has chosen. It is through the power
of mentorship that people gain the opportunity to fulfill their potential."
    Ms. Haentjens was awarded a cheque for $75,000. As her protégés, she
chose a young Quebec City director, Christian Lapointe, and the Montreal-based
ensemble Théâtre de la Pire Espèce, who each received half of the remaining
$25,000. The prize founders have structured the Siminovitch Prize in this way
to underscore the importance of mentorship in Canadian theatre.

    Christian Lapointe, protégé

    Working in the French language, director, writer, actor, and musician
Christian Lapointe has always staged plays that were often considered
unstageable. At the age of 23, he took on Yeats' plays for dancers. Later, he
directed the black diamond of symbolist theatre, Villiers de l'Isle Adam's
Axel. He has also mounted plays by Claude Gauvreau, Sarah Kane, and Mark
Ravenhill, as well as several theatrical explorations. His theatrical
creations have been seen in Melbourne, Hanoi, Avignon, and elsewhere. He was
recently invited by the International Theatre Institute (UNESCO) to
participate in a workshop on new dramaturgies in Berlin in December 2007.

    Théâtre de la Pire Espèce, protégé

    La Pire Espèce is the workspace of artist-companions, exploring écriture
scénique (devised work) that employs traditionally popular practices from the
international stage: marionettes, objects, cabaret, story-telling, clown, etc.
The passionate creators associated with this group venture into astonishing
aesthetics, pose a frank gaze on our humanity, and comb the planet in search
of all possible audiences and inspirations. Founded in 1999 by Olivier Ducas
and Francis Monty, the company has developed a dozen shows, including Ubu sur
la table and Persée, which have enjoyed remarkable success.

    Mr. McHardy was joined on the jury by Geneviève Billette, author,
translator and recipient of the 2002 Siminovitch Protégé Prize; Katrina Dunn,
director and producer; Valerie Moore, director, choreographer and teacher; and
Carlo Guillermo Proto, director, producer and writer.
    The other finalists placed on the short list for the 2007 Siminovitch
Prize were: Ron Jenkins, Edmonton, AB; Alisa Palmer, Toronto, ON, and Soheil
Parsa, Toronto, ON.
    Full biographies, photos and video are available at

    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
recognizes direction, playwriting and design in three-year cycles, beginning
with the 2001 award to Toronto director Daniel Brooks; the 2002 award to
Montréal playwright Carole Fréchette; the 2003 award to Montréal designer
Louise Campeau; the 2004 award to St. John's director Jillian Keiley; the 2005
award to Toronto playwright John Mighton and the 2006 award to Toronto set and
costume designer, Dany Lyne.

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at http://photos.newswire.ca.
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/

For further information:

For further information: JoAnne Hayes, Toronto, joanne.hayes@bmo.com,
(416) 867-3996; Lucie Gosselin, Montreal, lucie.gosselin@bmo.com, (514)
877-1101 or (514) 240-5361; Laurie Grant, Vancouver, laurie.grant@bmo.com,
(604) 665-7596, Internet: www.siminovitchprize.com

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