Ground Breaking Director, Artist, Creator Shortlisted for Canada’s Biggest Theatre Honour
Boca del Lupo’s artistic director Sherry J Yoon, one of the most influential theatre artists in Canada, is a finalist for the 2022 Siminovitch Prize. Considered the top theatre award in Canada, the Siminovitch Prize celebrates a professional mid-career director, playwright, or designer whose work is transformative and influential. The Prize also recognizes the importance of mentorship to support emerging talent: the Laureate receives $75,000 and selects a Protégé who receives $25,000.
Sherry has contributed an extraordinary amount to the theatrical landscape in this country as a director, curator, creator, producer, artistic director and artist. Especially during the past two difficult years, no artist has been as impactful as Sherry on the Canadian theatre industry.
Sherry was instrumental in ensuring that arts and culture were not only present but also ground-breaking over the last few years during the pandemic. Boca del Lupo was the first organization in Canada to open live performances following the shut down in March 2020. The company’s production of Red Phone was the centrepiece of an 8 week installation on Granville Island, Vancouver which launched July 2020.
This COVID resilient production also went on a three city tour in the fall, being the first production to tour post lock down. Red Phone is currently in Halifax, at the Prismatic Arts Festival at the Neptune Theatre until October 9 and will be presented at PuSh International Performing Arts Festival in January before heading out on a tour to South America.
In 2021, Sherry was the co-curator of the National Arts Centre’s Grand Acts of Theatre, a project that commissioned 10 large scale works across Canada last August that were recorded and which have since been viewed millions of times on social media.
Sherry also organized Stop Asian Hate, a cross country movement, working with Asian Canadian theatre leaders from across Canada, on a collective action condemning the staggering rise in anti-asian sentiment and violence. The movement evolved into the Celebrating Asian Excellence campaign in 2022.
Sherry also launched the project Plays2Perform@Home in July 2020. Boca del Lupo worked with Governor General and Siminovitch award winning playwrights to create “home delivery theatre”. This project helped keep live performance alive. The project was so successful that it went national with six partner companies across the country, commissioning a total of 20 new short plays, with the Western Box Set winning the Patrick O’Neill Award for best anthology in 2021.
Also in 2021, Sherry worked on a groundbreaking project with the Dr. Peter Centre called Dialogues for the Vaccine Hesitant and Those Who Love Them. This collaboration between theatre and public health resulted in a series of eBooks and Podcasts featuring playwrights and actors from across Canada with a goal to promote understanding and heal divides arising from the pandemic response.
In early 2022, Sherry launched LivePerformance360, Boca del Lupo’s new presentation series featuring Canadian and international creators investigating the intersections of live performance and immersive technology. The LP360 project also promotes 360 video as a powerful tool connecting festival presenters and touring artists. It also explores the dynamic possibilities for VR as an avenue for access to live performance for individuals in remote communities, or wouldn’t be able to attend a live event.
None of these initiatives would have happened without Sherry’s vision and leadership. Sherry J Yoon says, “It’s truly an honour to be shortlisted for this award. I’m humbled by the kind words of my peers and colleagues who nominated me as well as the incredible committee who adjudicated the prize. I’d also like to offer congratulations to my fellow nominees, what an inspirational group to be a part of.”
The Siminovitch Prize is life changing for the Laureates who are given the public recognition and financial resources needed to take greater creative risks. At the same time, the prestige of the Prize contributes to elevating Canadian theatre by creating exposure and legitimacy. The innovation we see on stages across Canada today is due in part, to the investment of the Siminovitch Prize for the past two decades. The award recipient will be announced December 1.