News Releases - < 2000
Quebec Theatre Director Wins 1998 Canada Council for the Arts John Hirsch Prize
Ottawa, 7 May 1998 -- The Canada Council for the Arts announced today that Philippe Soldevila of Quebec City, is the winner of the 1998 Canada Council for the Arts John Hirsch Prize. The $6,000 prize will be awarded to Mr. Soldevila on May 26 at the Carrefour international de théâtre.
The John Hirsch Prize is awarded each year to an emerging theatre director who has demonstrated great potential in combination with exciting artistic vision. Nominations for the prize are solicited from the Canadian professional theatre community, and a committee of senior theatre artists chooses the winner from the list of nominees.
Made possible by a bequest from the estate of the late John Hirsch, the $6,000 prize is a tribute to the extraordinary contribution 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 selection committee for the prize comprised Louise Côté (Quebec City), Luce Pelletier (Longueuil), André Perrier (Hull) and Yves Sioui Durand (Montreal). In selecting Philippe Soldevila, the committee wanted to acknowledge the originality of his artistic process, which is based on research on the spatial context and the relationship between stage and hall. The committee hailed Soldevila as a committed creator who is developing a mastery of his art while renewing the language of the discipline and constantly setting himself new challenges.
Philippe Soldevila was born in 1962. He earned his B.A. in French literature at Université Laval and a B.A. in theatre from Ottawa University before studying at the Conservatoire d'art dramatique du Québec. There he met Simone Chartrand, who has become a frequent collaborator in his work.
Soldevila has been Artistic Director of Théâtre Sortie de Secours since its foundation in 1989, where he also works as a director and occasionally author or adaptor of original creations or modernizations of existing texts. He has worked as assistant director to Robert Lepage for Théâtre Repère and Ex Machina productions both in Canada and abroad, coming into contact with actors from Germany, Sweden and Japan. For some years now he has been teaching theatre at Université Laval.
As a director, Soldevila has been noted both for his direction of actors and his use of the stage space. In his artistic statement, he explains his work in the following terms: "I have developed a minimalist approach to directing. By focusing on the text, the work of the actor and the optimum use of extremely spare sets, I have always tried to grasp the essentials of theatrical representation. By suggesting rather than demonstrating the play's setting, I am continually forced to call upon my own imagination as well as that of the spectator."
In Quebec City in recent years, he has directed numerous highly successful plays, including Tauromaquia and Le Miel est plus doux que le sang for Théâtre Sortie de Secours; Faust, pantin du diable for Productions Mordicus; Le Piège, terre des hommes for Théâtre Paradoxe; Les Parents terribles, co-produced by Théâtre du Trident and the National Arts Centre; and Agnès de Dieu for Théâtre de la Bordée.
Philippe Soldevila won the prize for best director (1995-96) from the Conseil de la culture de la région de Québec for Le Miel est plus doux que le sang, which was also nominated in the categories Discovery of the Year, Audience Award and Best Production, Quebec City at the 1995 Gala des Masques. More recently, Le Piège, terre des hommes was declared 1996-97 Play of the Year, Quebec City by the Quebec association of theatre critics.
Soldevila intends to use the John Hirsch Prize to further develop his stage language and dramaturgy in future theatre productions while continuing his collaborations with actors and creators from other regions.