Montréal, Tuesday, April 19, 2022 — The Conseil des arts de Montréal (CAM) and Théâtre ESPACE GO, in collaboration with members of the Award Development Committee,* are pleased to unveil the three finalists for the third edition of the Jovette-Marchessault Award, recognizing women playwrights: Fanny Britt, Rébecca Déraspe and Marie Leofeli Romero Barlizo. This award, which recognizes and showcases the contributions of women to Montréal’s theatre scene, comes with a $20,000 grant to be awarded by the Conseil to the winner.
The winner of the third Jovette-Marchessault Award will be announced on Wednesday, May 18, 2022.
THIRD EDITION – PLAYWRIGHTS: THE THREE FINALISTS
“Theatre showed me the way to collective, collaborative expression, where the whole is worth much more than the sum of the parts and where you see the benefits of creating as a group. Works, communities, revolutions. More than any other art form, theatre has also made me think about the role of women’s voices. From very young, the novel introduced me to the story, music introduced me to rhythm and lyricism. Theatre asked me: who is talking? And what does she have to say? Very soon, I was intrigued by the voices of female characters.”
To learn more about Fanny Britt, click HERE.
“[My approach] is rooted in rigour, guts, pain, the desire to bring something to the world. It is born out of my need for encounters, my curiosity about others. The characters in my work can touch me, wound me. They’re often barely hidden behind my own limits. I’m always seeking to reinvent the form to get as close as possible to the object of my current obsession so that my individual concerns can be experienced collectively.”
To learn more about Rébecca Déraspe, click HERE.
Marie Leofeli Romero Barlizo
“In my plays, I write about shame, survival, addiction and trauma (mental illness). My writing is largely inspired by watching my parents sacrifice their dreams so my sister and I could have a better life […] I write about things I don’t understand and that I want to make sense of. I write in order to have more Asian stories, and specifically Filipino stories, on Canadian stages. The plays I create are centered in strong, complicated, Filipino women who are struggling to survive and must make difficult choices. The stories I create give Asian female actors the opportunity to challenge themselves in their craft and redefine Asian Canadian characters for contemporary audiences.”
To learn more about Marie Leofeli Romero Barlizo, click HERE.
The Conseil des arts de Montréal is responsible for the composition of the jury, the selection of applications and the awarding of the grant, while ESPACE GO oversees the logistics and promotion of the award. The jury consists of professional artists. The evaluation of the applications was based on the quality and originality of the artistic approach, as well as the impact of the artists’ artistic work on the development of theatre practice.
In 2018, one of the priorities the Conseil des arts de Montréal included in its 2018-2020 Strategic Plan was to achieve better balance between genders, notably for male-female parity within the artistic community. To this end, the Conseil helped fund ESPACE GO’s Chantier féministe, a week-long event on the place of women in theatre, held in the spring of 2019. At this event, the theatre community agreed that an award should be created specifically to recognize the outstanding work of women in theatre and to raise the profile of women theatre artists. On the same occasion, the Conseil’s Executive Director, Nathalie Maillé, expressed an interest in receiving proposals regarding the creation of the award.
Several partners (CAM, ESPACE GO, Imago Theatre, Théâtre de l’Affamée and artists associated with the F.E.T. movement) joined forces to make the new award a reality. All the stakeholders agreed that the award should be named for the inspiring woman artist Jovette Marchessault (1938-2012), a Montréal novelist, poet, playwright, painter and sculptor. Starting with the second edition, new members joined the original partners serving on the Award Development Committee. They were artists Nahka Bertrand, Margarita Herrera-Dominguez and Gabe Maharjan.
Calls for nominations for this annual award vary on a three-year rotation based on the candidates’ artistic roles, alternating between directors, designers and playwrights. The finalists for the first edition were theatre directors Catherine Bourgeois, Pol Pelletier and Catherine Vidal, with Catherine Vidal being named the winner in May 2020. The finalists for the second edition were designers Sophie El Assaad, Claude Rodrigue and Nancy Tobin. Nancy Tobin was named the winner in May 2021.
*Members of the Jovette-Marchessault Award Development Committee: Nahka Bertrand, Margarita Herrera-Dominguez, Gabe Maharjan, Théâtre de l’Affamée, Imago Théâtre, and the Femmes pour l’Équité en Théâtre movement (F.E.T.)
ABOUT THE CONSEIL DES ARTS DE MONTRÉAL
A dynamic partner of professional artistic creativity in Montreal, the Conseil des arts de Montréal identifies, supports and recognizes excellence in the creation, production and presentation of artistic endeavours. Through its initiatives, the Conseil encourages new thinking, discovery and daring at the heart of Montreal’s artistic landscape. Since 1956, the Conseil des arts de Montréal has been an influential player in the development of “Montreal, Cultural Metropolis.”
Jovette Marchessault was born in 1938 in a Montreal working-class neighbourhood. She had to leave school in her teens to work in a textile factory, where she met immigrants from around the world. Her exposure to these women and her close bond with her grandmother fuelled her search for her self-identity and her spiritual roots.
In the early 1960s, she journeyed extensively through the Americas, travels that would later influence her writing. But her first artistic forays were in the visual arts. In the 1970s, her frescoes, masks and sculptures of “telluric” (or primeval) women were featured at some thirty solo exhibitions around Quebec, as well as in Toronto, New York, Paris and Brussels.
At the same time, this self-taught artist took up the pen, publishing a romantic trilogy Comme une enfant de la terre, in 1975. She went on to write dramatic monologues, poetry, several plays and two more novels, all of which received wide acclaim.
Her theatrical works are infused with a deep lyrical and ancestral voice. Celebrating words through myths and liberating poetic language, they pay homage to women, in particular female artists and writers.
The winner of several major awards, Jovette Marchessault, made an indelible mark on Quebec theatre in the same way that more famous writers of her generation did, without ever receiving in her lifetime the recognition normally given to artists whose works are as compelling and unique as hers.
Jovette Marchessault died, alone, in 2012.
This award created by the Conseil des arts de Montréal was named for Jovette Marchessault as a tribute to a great “tuner of the soul,” whose body of work reflects her desire to bring women’s culture out of the shadows, to reshape History, and to forge a collective memory that allows women to be role models for any gender.