For designer Dany Lyne, winner of the 2006 Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, nurturing future artists is as important as creating.
The $100,000 prize includes $25,000 that goes to a protege, and for the first time it was split between two winners, with honourable mention going to a third young designer. Lyne presented the protege award to Camellia Koo and April Anne Viczko, with recent Ryerson grad Jung-Hye Kim getting a nod as well.
"Both Camellia and April have worked in the business for years," says Lyne, whose latest Toronto works include Macbeth, Hair and Rodelinda. "That's a huge investment in terms of time, effort and dedication, and having worked with them I respect their diligence and commitment as well as their artistry.
"I admire April's work for its architectural and poetic qualities, while Camellia is a meticulous, sculptural and symbolic interpreter."
Kim assisted Lyne on Hair, stepping in when the senior designer needed someone to help coordinate her studio work.
"It's important to honour the next generation of designers," the passionate Lyne says. "We lose a lot of designers soon after they graduate, simply because there's not enough work for them. And even then, a few years further down the road, it's hard to make a living as a designer. We often seem to be low on the priority ladder, while design budgets and fees have been going down.
"I hear about burnout from every designer I work with. It's always been bad, but I think it's worse now."
The cheque for $75,000 gives Lyne a chance to take some time off without worrying about how she'll live.
"Now I can finally, for the first time in 13 years, push the pause button and simply go out and see the work of other artists."
Queen's men recrowned
Shakespeare And The Queen's Men might have begun as an academic exercise, but the result, staged last week, was a trio of vibrant shows.
Scholars and theatre artists collaborated to investigate the performance practices of a touring 1580s Elizabethan troupe, the Queen's Men, which influenced Shakespeare's own works. They chose to mount three scripts: King Leir, The Famous Victories Of Henry V and Friar Bacon And Friar Bungay. The first two clearly feed into the Bard's King Lear, Henry IV and Henry V plays, while Friar Bacon may have inspired Shakespeare's Prospero. That last conjecture doesn't ring quite true for us; the play seems to have left its mark more clearly on Marlowe's Doctor Faustus.
The productions, presented as part of a conference coordinated by groups at the U of T and McMaster, were first rate. Director Peter Cockett followed Renaissance rehearsal style, and the all-male cast - a given for the period - never let him down.
Leir, the most fascinating piece, has no Gloucester subplot, Fool or final tragedy. In this version, Leir, his daughter Cordella and her husband the French king win the kingdom back from the baddies. The jingoistic Henry, with a great deal of comic business and lots of fighting in the last half, proved a crowd-pleaser, as did the romantic comedy Friar Bacon, with its conjured devils and plotting lovers.
Don Allison contributed impressive gravitas as a series of kings, Paul Hopkins was winning as a trio of charming romantic heroes, and the audience loved Alon Nashman's wonderful clowning.
The cross-dressing parts were just as nicely done, with Julian DeZotti memorable in all three plays, notably as Leir's Cordella. We were also impressed with Derek Genova, the chameleon-like Matthew Krist, Scott Clarkson and Jason Gray.
Calling all artists
Lots of calls for new artists and new works this month.
Nightwood Theatre is looking for women aged 18 to 29 who want to develop a play as part of the Write From The Hip program, a series of weekly workshops beginning in April. The works will get a staging as part of Groundswell next August. Deadline is November 15. For more info, check out www.nightwoodtheatre.net or contact co-director of youth initiatives Lisa Codrington at email@example.com.
The Buddies' Young Creators Unit is open to queer creator/performers under 25 who want to develop an original solo performance piece, working with artistic coordinator Evalyn Parry and guest artists. There's a grant for five creators who will meet weekly for three months starting in January and have a chance to perform a finished version of their piece. Deadline is November 30. Check out www.buddiesinbadtimestheatre.com/youth.
Volcano has some money to distribute under the Ontario Arts Council's Theatre Creators' Reserve fund. It favours artists working on original material, multidisciplinary or formally experimental works rather than traditional script-driven plays. Deadline is December 1. For details, click on The News at www.volcano.ca.
Finally, the Fringe begins accepting submissions from November 27 for the eighth annual New Play Contest. Entry is first-come, first-served, with a deadline of December 1 or until they receive 80 applications. The three top entries get a cash prize; the winner also gets a Fringe slot. For more info call 416-966-1062 or check out www.fringetoronto.com.