"I am so happy to be living in a country where artists get recognized for their excellence and encouraged to continue to take artistic risks." - Itai Erdal.

In a media release, the Siminovitch Prize Foundation and the National Arts Centre announced the shortlist for this year’s award in the category of design.

Awarded annually, the Siminovitch Prize of $100,000 is Canada’s largest national theatre award. Each year, through a three-year cycle, it honours professional directors, playwrights and designers.

The Prize recognizes exceptional theatre artists at mid-career and also encourages emerging talent by highlighting the importance of mentorship. Recipients of the award receive $75,000 and choose a protégé to receive $25,000.

This year’s Prize recognizes designers, and among the four finalists is Vancouver designer Itai Erdal. An award-winning lighting designer, writer and performer, Erdal is also the artistic director of Vancouver’s Elbow Theatre.

Having designed lighting for over 250 shows, Erdal has worked with theatre companies across Canada and around the world. Along with a number of international awards, he is the winner of four Jessie Richardson Awards, which recognize excellence in Vancouver’s professional theatre community. Erdal’s one-man show How to Disappear Completely continues to tour, and he has co-written and performed in A Very Narrow Bridge, This Is Not a Conversation and Hyperlink for Elbow Theatre.

“I am thrilled to be shortlisted to the most prestigious theatre award in Canada – it is the greatest honour of my career,” says Erdal via email. “I am proud to be representing Vancouver and I am proud to be representing lighting designers everywhere. I would like to thank the Siminovitch family for everything they have done for theatre in Canada, I am so happy to be living in a country where artists get recognized for their excellence and encouraged to continue to take artistic risks.”

Erdal went on to congratulate the three other nominees: Stephanie Jasmin, Alexander McSweeny, and Camie Koo.

“These four artists embody the future-focused spirit of the Siminovitch Prize,” says jury chair Vanessa Porteous in the media release. “These are four inquiring, curious, even restless spirits. They undertake an active investigation every time they set to work. They are gaining significant momentum as creative forces, and their impact is felt both within their field of specialization and well beyond.”

The 2018 Siminovitch Prize will be awarded at a ceremony at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on November 5.