Playwright Joan MacLeod has won the Siminovitch Prize, Canada's richest theatre prize. (Siminovitch Prize)

Victoria-based playwright Joan MacLeod has won the 2011 Elinore & Lou Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, Canada’s largest theatre award.

MacLeod, author of Little Sister, The Shape of a Girl and Another Home Invasion, wins $75,000 and is asked to select a protégé to be honoured with a $25,000 prize. At a gala ceremony Monday, MacLeod announced she had chosen Toronto-based playwright Anusree Roy as her protégé.

MacLeod was named winner from a short list of six finalists. They are:

  • Robert Chafe, the St. John's-based winner of the 2010 Governor General's Award for drama and playwright for Newfoundland troupe Artistic Fraud.
  • Larry Tremblay, the Montreal playwright, actor and director.
  • Jasmine Dubé, the writer, actress and director who co-founded and serves as artistic director of Montreal's Théâtre Bouche Décousues.
  • Greg MacArthur, the playwright-in-residence at the University of Alberta and the Toronto writer behind The Decameron: things we leave behind and Beggar Boy.
  • Mansel Robinson, the Chapleau, Ont.-based playwright (formerly of Saskatoon) and past president of the Saskatchewan Playwrights Centre.

"In choosing Joan MacLeod as the winner of the Siminovitch Prize for 2011, the jury wanted to recognize Joan’s unique voice, her masterful storytelling, and the impact that her work has had among audiences in Canada and beyond," said jury chair Maureen Labonté in a statement.

Since 2004, MacLeod has taught at the department of writing at University of Victoria. Her work has been translated into eight languages and she has won multiple theatre awards, including the Governor General’s Literary Award for drama.


Anusree Roy is author of Pyaasa and Brothel #9. (Playwrights Canada Press)

"Joan is a master of expressing the profoundest human emotions, putting to paper the vulnerability, the compassion, the weaknesses and strengths of the human spirit. Moreover, as a teacher, mentor, and role model, she has no doubt inspired a generation of new Canadian theatre artists," Labonte added.

MacLeod was playwright-in-residence at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto before moving to B.C. and the Tarragon production of her play Another Home Invasion is currently on a national tour. Her work The Shape of a Girl is touring this year with Vancouver’s Green Thumb Theatre, where it was first performed in 2001.

The Simonovitch Prize asks winners to select a protégé to emphasize the need for mentoring in theatre.

Roy won two Dora Mavor Moore awards for her play Pyaasa for Theatre Passe Muraille and also wrote Brothel # 9  which was staged at Factory Theatre in Toronto.