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What's New > John Hirsch Prize winners bring the world to Canadians in innovative ways

John Hirsch Prize winners bring the world to Canadians in innovative ways

posted on 8:21 AM, January 31, 2012
(photo: Andree LanthierOttawa, January 31, 2012 – Christopher Morris of Toronto and Gaétan Paré of Montreal, both professional directors who founded their own theatre companies, are the winners of the Canada Council for the Arts 2012 John Hirsch Prizes.

 ChristopherMorrisNightMoon1.jpg Christopher Morris is a director, actor and playwright. As Artistic Director of Human Cargo, the theatre company he founded in 2007, he challenges the established norms in Canadian Theatre, reinventing process, content and form.

Abbie Ootova in Moon
(photo: Andree Lanthier)

Gaétan Paré, the founder of Théâtre de la Pacotille, is very involved in the Montreal theatre community. He sees theatre as a tool for questioning, understanding and communicating a vision of the world. His practice is characterized by his interest in powerful contemporary writing from Canada and the international scene.

From left to right: Jean-Moïse Martin, Yannick Chapdelaine, Sébastien Dodge, and Véronic Rodrigue in Le moche de Marius von Mayenburg (photo: Marie-Claude Hamel)

“What Christopher Morris and Gaétan Paré are bringing to Canadians is on the cutting edge of new creation,” said Robert Sirman, Director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts. “These young and dynamic directors are profoundly engaged in theatre in Canada – fitting choices for an award bearing the name of John Hirsch.”

Made possible by a bequest from the estate of the late John Hirsch, the prizes are a tribute to the extraordinary contribution Mr. Hirsch made to theatre in Canada, most notably as founder of the Manitoba Theatre Centre, head of drama for CBC television and artistic director of the Stratford Festival.

The two $6,000 prizes are awarded every second year to emerging professional theatre directors – one working in English and one working in French. Candidates must have no more than ten years of experience as a professional director as well as have demonstrated great potential and an exciting artistic vision. Nominations for the prizes are solicited from the Canadian professional theatre community and a committee of actively practicing theatre artists chooses the winner from a list of nominees.

Christopher Morris

ChristopherMorrisHeadShot.jpg For his latest production, Night, Christopher Morris worked with artists and members of the community in Pond Inlet, Nunavut, and in Iceland over a three year period. The play premiered at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in 2010 and was the theatre’s first play presented in Inuktitut.Night will be presented at the 2012 Magnetic North Festival in Calgary this June. As a result of his time spent in Pond Inlet, he co-founded the Tununiq Arsaniit Theatre Group in the community. The Inuit theatre group is dedicated to telling stories of the region.

Mr. Morris’ current project also demonstrates his thirst for cultural exchange. To develop the play Petawawa, about the impact of war on families of soldiers in Canada, Afghanistan and Pakistan, he has interviewed families from all sides of the conflict, including the Taliban.Petawawa will be presented at Alberta Theatre Projects in Calgary in March 2013.

Christopher Morris was the K.M. Hunter Award for Theatre recipient in 2005.


Gaétan Paré


Director Gaétan Paré founded Théatre de la Pacotille in 1998, when he was beginning his degree in artistic creation at the École des arts visuels et médiatiques at Université du Québec à Montréal. His first experiences as a director with the company, between 2002 and 2007, included works by Franz Kafka, Hervé Blutsch and Heiner Müller. He also took the Directing Program at the National Theatre School of Canada between 2007 and 2009.

In 2010, his first professional work as a director, Le Moche by Marius von Mayenburg, was presented at the OFFTA Festival. The production won two Cochons d’or awards at the gala organized by Carte Première to acknowledge the best productions by Montreal’s new generation. Most recently, he directed Faire des enfants Théâtre de Quat’Sous.

Committee Members

The selection committee for the English language director’s prize consisted of Alanis King (Ottawa), James Long (Vancouver), Berni Stapleton (St. John’s) and David Yee (Toronto). The selection committee for the French language director’s prize was comprised of Serge Cambronne (Saint‑Bruno, Que.), Érika Gagnon (L’Ange-Gardien, Que.), Fabrice Grover (Vancouver) and Nathalie Tannous (Montreal).

General information

In addition to its principal role of promoting and fostering the arts, the Canada Council for the Arts administers and awards many prizes and fellowships in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural and health sciences, engineering, and arts management. These prizes and fellowships recognize the achievements of outstanding Canadian artists, scholars, and administrators. The Canada Council is committed to raising public awareness and celebrating these exceptional people and organizations on both a national and international level.

Find a complete listing of these awards.

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