Canada's $100,000 Siminovitch Prize has come full circle, with Toronto director Chris Abraham — chosen as the first year's protégé — winning the lucrative theatre honour for 2013.
Abraham, who heads Crow's Theatre in Toronto, was declared the winner Monday night during a ceremony at the University of Toronto's Hart House Theatre.
"Making theatre has always been my way of making sense of the world around me, and I'm lucky that it still works this way for me. This award not only gives me a great sense of accomplishment but it emboldens me to tackle new challenges and responsibilities that lie ahead," he said in a statement.
"[Reflecting on the prize] has also reminded me that 'it takes a village to raise a theatre director' and that whatever I have achieved, I have done so with enormous support of friends, colleagues, supporters of the arts, taxpayers, as well as the love and faith of my family."
Abraham is known for his mentoring of other theatre artists and for his direction of successful English- and French-language productions. In January, he unveiled plans for building a permanent home for his troupe — Crow's Theatre, which has developed a reputation for presenting new, original works and provocative touring productions — in Toronto's east end.
"Chris Abraham was, ultimately and after great discussion, the unanimous choice of the jury because of the vast array of his practice, his remarkable mentorship already and for the new threshold at his feet as he moves to not only do theatre but to build one as well, with the construction of a new space for Crow's Theatre in east-end Toronto," said jury chair John Van Burek.
Established in 2001, the Siminovitch Prize celebrates mid-career artists who have "contributed significantly to the fabric of theatrical life through a total body of work."
It became known for its distinctive structure: each year's winner picks an up-and-coming peer to receive $25,000 of the total prize money and the annual honour alternates through a three-year cycle that recognizes Canadian directors, playwrights and designers. Inaugural winner Daniel Brooks chose Abraham to receive the first protégé honour.
"The first Siminovitch protégé has proven to be a fine investment in Canadian talent," Van Burek said.
As winner of this year's prize, Abraham has selected Mitchell Cushman, artistic director of Outside the March and associate artistic director of Crow's Theatre, to share his win as protégé.
In 2012, organizers revealed it would be the final year for the prize, but individual donors and organizations rallied this summer to support its continuation.