Marie Brassard wins $100,000 Siminovitch Prize for theatre directing

Experimental theatre director Marie Brassard says winning this year's Siminovitch Prize serves as a sign to keep following her instincts.

The Montreal-based artist was awarded the $100,000 Canadian theatre honour on Thursday for what jurors described as "theatrical poetry."

"I've always tried to be as faithful as I can be to my instincts and my desires, and to be as free as one can be, and to share that freedom with the people I'm working with," Brassard said in an interview ahead of the announcement.

"So being recognized for the work in such a context, it's a very pleasurable and unexpected thing for me."

Brassard is known for work that pushes the bounds of what theatre can be, combining the physical with the digital.

She uses light, sound and video to take audiences to new places: dreamscapes, spiritual planes and liminal spaces on the border of reality.

"Marie’s work is simultaneously dreamlike, ethereal and immediate, visceral and compelling. She is renowned for her long and patient development of work, for deep listening and for bringing out the best from her collaborators," said Guillermo Verdecchia, the jury chair.

Brassard said the $75,000 she's to receive along with the Siminovitch will grant her more time for that long, patient process.

"It allows me to take the time to reflect upon my work, and to take the time to dig a little bit deeper in my desires, and to reflect upon what I've done and what I want to do from now on," she said.

"That is very precious."

In addition to her cut, her chosen protégé — Philippe Boutin — will receive $25,000.

The Siminovitch Prize rotates on a three-year cycle, recognizing professionals in the alternating fields of design, direction and playwriting.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2022.