The sound designer Nancy Tobin is the winner of the Jovette-Marchessault Award, the second edition of which was devoted to women creators and designers. Created to recognize and showcase women artists’ contributions to the theatre industry, the award comes with a $20,000 cash prize from the Conseil des arts de Montréal. The stage and costume designer Sophie El Assaad and the sculptor Claude Rodrigue were the other finalists this year.
“Receiving the Jovette-Marchessault Award is a huge responsibility for me. There are lots of other women creators and designers who work very hard and do some wonderful things. So, why me? And how do you receive an award during a global pandemic? I have lots of questions, and I’m still reeling from being named the winner. Thank you so much for this honour. I feel like you’re giving me a platform to use, and that’s the responsibility I feel.” – Nancy Tobin
Sophie El Assaad
Stage and costume designer
“My work as a designer is informed by my background in the visual arts. I approach scenography as I would a painting or a sculpture. I work in theatre, because I am fascinated by people and their stories, and I intend to use design to tell these stories. Costume design in particular allows me a great connection with characters and understanding of their motivations. My aesthetic and artistic approach are naturally influenced by my experience growing up in the Middle-East and gaining a unique perspective of the world, not only in its architecture, clothing, or art but in its people and their belief systems.” – Sophie El Assaad
“Ever since I was a child, I have always had the same motivation. I found it fascinating to observe my surroundings and the things that interested me most, especially living beings. I wanted to understand the details, the little things that make a being unique, and their effect on our emotions. My mother always told me that as a little girl, I would make observations about people aloud. Although she would scold me for my manners, she would also confirm that I was right with a sense of pride. And I would spend countless hours shaping human figures out of modeling clay. Is it any wonder that I teach courses on the shapes of faces and people’s characters now?” – Claude Rodrigue
The Jovette-Marchessault Award was created in 2019 in the wake of ESPACE GO’s Chantier féministe event, where the theatre community rallied behind a proposal by the Femmes pour l’Équité en Théâtre (F.E.T.) movement that awards be created specifically to recognize the outstanding work of women in theatre and raise the profile of female artists. The Conseil des arts de Montréal swiftly responded, eliciting the collaboration of partners ESPACE GO, Imago Theatre, Théâtre de l’Affamée and the F.E.T. movement to make this new award possible. All players were agreed that the award should be named for the inspiring woman artist Jovette Marchessault (1938-2012), Montreal novelist, poet, playwright, painter and sculptor. In 2020, artist Catherine Vidal won the award’s first edition, dedicated to women theatre directors.
JOVETTE-MARCHESSAULT AWARD – ALTERNATING DISCIPLINES
Each year, as part of the Jovette-Marchessault Award, three female artists will be honoured and a $20,000 cash prize will be presented to the winner by the Conseil des arts de Montréal. Annual calls for nominations will be issued on a three-year rotation between artistic roles. The 2019-2020 award was for directors, the 2020-2021 edition for designers, and the 2021-2022 edition for playwrights (original work or adaptation). Eligible artists: Professional artists working in theatre who identify as female; artists must also be recognized by their peers, regardless of years of experience, must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada at the time of the nomination, and must reside on the Island of Montreal.
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.”
Image : Odetka Tuduri | Photo