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$100,000 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre Awarded to Lighting Designer, Robert Thomson

Thomson chooses two proteges-Jason Hand and Raha Javanfar-to share $25,000 prize

TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 11/05/12 --

Editors Note: Photos for this press release will be available on the Canadian Press picture wire via Marketwire.

The founders of the Elinore & Lou Siminovitch Prize in theatre today announced that Montreal-based lighting designer, Robert Thomson, has been selected as the recipient of the 2012 Elinore & Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, the largest theatre award in the country.

Mr. Thomson was chosen from a short list of five finalists including Alan Brodie (Vancouver), Richard Feren (Toronto), Anick La Bissoniere (Montreal) and Richard Lacroix (Montreal).

Robert Thomson is widely recognized as one of Canada's most prolific and versatile lighting designers for theatre, opera and dance. His work is noted for its precision, visual poetry, psychological insight and dramaturgical impact, and his acclaimed designs have garnered a Sterling Award and four Dora Mavor Moore Awards.

"In making its decision, the jury was inspired not only by this artist's stunningly beautiful body of work but also by his passion, joy and spirit," said Maureen Labonte, Jury Chair. "His work as a lighting designer is mesmerizing. It is sensitive, fresh, bold and visceral. He deftly conducts the visual experience with focus and clarity, suggesting, never dictating, ways of seeing moment to moment. He delves deep, insisting on getting at the very core of the work. He helps tell the story and then enhances it with the visual poetry of his lighting."

"I am absolutely thrilled and humbled to be selected as the recipient of the Siminovitch Award," said Mr. Thomson. "It is such a great honour to be chosen from such a distinguished group of colleagues, who are amongst Canada's finest theatre designers."

Mr. Thomson received a cheque for $75,000 at a gala ceremony this evening in Toronto. In keeping with his commitment to sharing his knowledge and experience with his colleagues as well as with younger artists, he has selected two lighting designers, Jason Hand and Raha Javanfar, as his proteges. They will share the $25,000 prize. The Siminovitch Prize is set up in this way to put an emphasis on the role of mentorship in Canadian theatre.

"On behalf of the Founders, I would like to congratulate Mr. Thomson on his outstanding achievements and contribution to the Canadian stage," said Joseph Rotman, chair of the Canada Council and one of the Founders of the Siminovitch Prize. "This prize recognizes the excellence that Robert has demonstrated throughout his career. His work continuously illustrates the important role creative stage lighting plays to affect an audience's senses and evoke their emotions."

About Robert Thomson

Over 12 consecutive seasons at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, his 28 productions include collaborations with Jonathan Miller, Jennifer Tarver, Peter Hinton, Christopher Newton, Des McAnuff and Antoni Cimolino. He served as Resident Lighting Designer for 12 seasons at The National Ballet of Canada, designing over 25 productions, and through 24 seasons at the Shaw Festival (10 as Head of Lighting Design) he is credited on more than 55 productions.

Robert began his professional career at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto. Since then, he has worked with a diverse range of Canadian companies, including the: National Arts Centre, Canadian Stage, Citadel Theatre, MTC, Pleiades Theatre, and Montreal's Centaur Theatre and Segal Centre. Internationally, his designs have been featured at: Lincoln Center Theater, Metropolitan Opera, Goodman Theatre, Hartford Stage, American Ballet Theatre and Stuttgart Ballet.

Mr. Thomson's award-winning design for Robert Lepage's Bluebeard's Castle/Erwartung has been seen across Canada and around the world. Other opera credits include: COC, Seattle Opera, Geneva Opera, l'Opera de Montreal, Pacific Opera Victoria and Tapestry New Opera. Robert's passion is for the evolving creative process, seeking his influences from the text or score, the rehearsal hall, and the collective journey of his fellow artists. His work is noted for its precision, visual poetry, psychological insight and dramaturgical impact, and his acclaimed designs have garnered a Sterling Award and four Dora Mavor Moore Awards. Mr. Thomson trained at The Studio and Forum of Stage Design in NYC, and has taught at Sheridan College, Ryerson University, Carnegie Mellon University, and the National Theatre School of Canada.

Mr. Thomson trained at The Studio and Forum of Stage Design in NYC, and has taught at Sheridan College, Ryerson University, Carnegie Mellon University, and the National Theatre School of Canada

About Jason Hand and Raha Javanfar

Jason Hand is a Toronto-based lighting designer working in theatre and opera. This past season he received a Dora nomination for his design of The Ugly One for Theatre Smash. He also lit the acclaimed productions of La Boheme and Turn of the Screw for Against the Grain Theatre, and A Midsummer Night's Dream for Canadian Stage. Jason has a very exciting season lined up for 2012/2013. Projects include The Arsonists and This (Canadian Stage), Morris Panych's adaptation of The Amorous Adventures of Anatol (Tarragon Theatre), Joel Ivany's The Tales of Hoffman (Edmonton Opera), and with be working with Allan MacInnis for the first time on Blue Planet at Young People's Theatre.

Raha Javanfar has designed lighting and projections for theatre, dance, art installation, and opera. She has toured extensively across Canada, as well as abroad to Mexico, Malaysia, China, Australia, and New Zealand. Her most recent design credits are projection design for Opera Atelier's Der Freischutz and lighting design for Miss Caledonia for Tarragon Theatre. Other past design projects include lighting and projection design for How to Succeed: A Musical Tribute to Des McAnuff (Ryerson Theatre School), Forces of Nature and House of Dreams (Tafelmusik), lighting design forHercules (Tafelmusik/Opera Atelier),Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci (Opera Hamilton), as well as credits for other notable companies such as Ballet Jorgen Canada, Ballet Creole, Nuit Blanche, Royal Conservatory of Music, Festival Players of Prince Edward County, and Queen of Puddings.

About the 2012 Siminovitch Prize Jury

Maureen Labonte, a Montreal-based translator, teacher and dramaturge with extensive theatre experience in English and French Canadian communities across the country, has presided as jury chair since 2009. Other members of the jury include:

Alison Green who has worked as a scenographer and theatre artist for most of her career and is currently a member of the faculty of the UBC Department of Theatre in Vancouver;

Claude Goyette, a Quebec-based designer, who has created over a 150 sets for stage, theatre, opera, dance and television, as well as exhibits for museums and infrastructures for the Cirque du Soleil;

Jock Munro, who currently resides in Meech Lake, Quebec, and whose 34-year design career includes credits in most major theatres across Canada, has also worked as a lighting designer in the U.S. and Europe in the fields of theatre, opera and dance;

Leigh Ann Vardy, a lighting designer for theatre and dance, who has worked in theatres across Canada and has a keen interest in designing new works, is currently an instructor and coach at the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal;

Shawn Kerwin, an award winning set and costume designer with credits in Canada, England and the United States, is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre at York University.

About the Siminovitch Prize in Theatre

The Elinore & Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre honours professional directors, playwrights and designers by acknowledging excellence and encouraging further exploration in Canadian theatre. The Siminovitch Prize was created in 2001 and is dedicated to distinguished scientist Lou Siminovitch and his late wife Elinore, a playwright. For further information about the prize, please visit www.siminovitchprize.com. Previous recipients include:

--  Toronto director Daniel Brooks - 2001 
--  Montreal playwright Carole Frechette - 2002 
--  Montreal designer Louise Campeau - 2003 
--  St. John's director Jillian Keiley - 2004 
--  Toronto playwright John Mighton - 2005 
--  Toronto designer Dany Lyne - 2006 
--  Montreal director Brigitte Haentjens - 2007 
--  Toronto playwright Daniel MacIvor - 2008 
--  Calgary and Toronto designer Ronnie Burkett - 2009 
--  Vancouver director Kim Collier - 2010 
--  Victoria playwright Joan MacLeod - 2011 

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