Siminovitch prize for theatre goes to Vancouver duo

Maiko Yamamoto and James Long have won the 2019 Siminovitch Prize. Photo: Stephen Drover. Courtesy National Arts Centre

The 2019 winners of the Siminovitch Prize for Theatre are Maiko Yamamoto and James Long, the artistic directors of Vancouver’s Theatre Replacement.

This is the first time the $100,000 prize has gone to a team. Yamamoto and Long will share $75,000. The rest will go to Vancouver director/creator Conor Wylie, whom they have named as their protégé.

Yamamoto and Long were on the shortlist for the prize with Christian Barry, co-founder and artistic co-director of Halifax’s 2b theatre company; Ravi Jain, founding artistic director of Toronto’s Why Not Theatre and Christian Lapointe, artistic director of Quebec City’s Théâtre Carte blanche.

The announcement was made Thursday evening at the National Arts Centre.

“We are deeply honoured to be selected as the 2019 Laureates of the Siminovitch Prize,” Yamamoto and Long said in a media release. “We are also proud to be the first co-recipients of the prize, and inspired by what this recognition means in the context of contemporary Canadian theatre practice. Our sincerest thanks go out to the Siminovitch family, the Siminovitch Prize Board and to the jury members for all their dedicated work.”

Yamamoto and Long founded Theatre Replacement in 2003. The company’s work has been presented in 43 cities around the world.

As freelance artists, they have directed, written, taught and created performance with a diverse range of companies and institutions.  Both are graduates of Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts Theatre Program. Yamamoto has a Masters of Applied Arts in Visual Art from Emily Carr University of Art & Design, and Long holds a Master’s Degree in Urban Studies, also from SFU.

Conor Wylie is a Vancouver-based director, performer, writer, creator. He is a member of A Wake of Vultures, an interdisciplinary collaboration with Nancy Tam and Daniel O’Shea. He is an artist-in-residence at Theatre Replacement.

The Siminovitch Prize was started in 2000 in honour of the scientist Lou Siminovitch and the late Elinore Siminovitch, a pioneering playwright. 

Over a three-year cycle, the Siminovitch Prize celebrates a professional director, playwright or designer who is an acknowledged leader in the theatre and whose work is transformative and influential. Past laureates include celebrated directors Nadia Ross (2016), Chris Abraham (2013), Kim Collier (2010), the NAC’s French Theatre Director Brigitte Haentjens (2007), The NAC’s English Theatre head Jillian Keiley (2004) and Daniel Brooks (2001).

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.