Maiko Yamamoto and artistic partner James Long win Siminovitch Prize

Maiko james laureate

By Sára Molčan

Posted on December 05, 2019 | Updated December 17, 2019, 11:27AM

The Siminovitch Prize is awarded $100,000 annually for excellence and innovation in Canadian theatre.

This article originally appeared on the Emily Carr University Alumni Association's website.

Alum Maiko Yamamoto (MFA 2015) and James Long, artistic directors of the Vancouver company, Theatre Replacement, have been named the 2019 Laureates of the $100,000 Siminovitch Prize.

Maiko Yamamoto and James Long have been collaborating for over 20 years, making experimental, intercultural and interdisciplinary works of theatre.

“We are deeply honoured to be this year’s laureates. We feel proud to have been nominated alongside such amazing artists — artists whom we greatly respect and admire,” the pair shared in their acceptance speech, held at a ceremony on November 21 at the National Arts Centre.

“We are two artists who stand here together today, because over 20 years ago we committed ourselves to the challenge of making performances that replaced the theatre that we were largely seeing around us at the time. Theatre that we couldn’t recognize ourselves inside of.”

Theatre Replacement was founded in 2003. The company’s work has been presented in 43 cities and venues across the world. As freelance artists, they have directed, written, taught and created performance with a diverse range of companies and institutions.

“We met this challenge through allowing our individual experiences, perspectives, interests, histories and beliefs to come together and collide inside of our processes. The collision was exciting — and we quickly discovered it made the work better,” they added.

“It was also a key way in which we could really support each other and our growing practices as two very different artists: one female identifying, one male identifying. One Japanese Canadian, one Waspy-Hybrid Canadian.”

As self-proclaimed outsiders, the pair doesn’t take the award lightly and are looking forward to what comes next.

“It is a curious thing to stand here and receive a prize in ‘theatre’,” they shared. “We have always situated ourselves as outsiders and ‘theatre’ as a word and form has felt like something separate, removed or sequestered on a stage.”

“Our work is about a genuine attempt to co-exist,” they added. “Being honoured by this prize helps confirm that our investment in the meaning behind these words has been worthwhile.”

About Theatre Replacement
About Maiko Yamamoto
About James Long
About the Siminovitch Prize