Toronto, ON (June 16, 2021) – The Barbara Hamilton Memorial Award was established in 1996 to recognize Barbara Hamilton’s illustrious theatrical career and her remarkable canon of work. This award is presented to a Canadian artist who demonstrates excellence in the performing arts and is dedicated to advocating and being an ambassador for the arts in Canada.
At the 2021 Dora Ancillary Awards virtual presentation today, the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA) announced that this year’s recipient is Soheil Parsa, the highly regarded, groundbreaking theatre practitioner who co-founded Modern Times Stage Company thirty-two years ago in Toronto. Soheil recently announced he is stepping down as Artistic Director after his long and successful sojourn there. The presentation can be viewed on TAPA’s YouTube channel.
Soheil Parsa is an award-winning director, writer, dramaturg and teacher, whose professional theatre career spans forty years and two continents. In his native Iran, Soheil completed studies in Theatre Performance at the University of Tehran and began a promising career as an actor and director. Arriving in Canada with his family in 1984, Soheil completed a second Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Studies at York University and then went on to establish Modern Times Stage Company in 1989, one of the most innovative theatre companies in Canada. The company’s work has also been performed in Colombia, Cuba, Iran, the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Denmark.
Modern Times has been recognized with 16 Dora Mavor Moore Awards, with Soheil personally garnering six as well as a number of international prizes and master class requests. In 2007 and 2010, he was short-listed for the Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, one of the highest honours in Canadian theatre. In 2013, Soheil was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contribution as a theatre artist to Canadian society. In 2015, the Toronto Theatre Critics Awards presented him with Best Director for his work on Federico Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding, also honoured with six Dora Awards including Outstanding Director and Outstanding Production and named by NOW Magazine as one of that decade’s best theatre shows.
Mr. Parsa instilled Modern Times with deeply human values that made space for artists from different cultural backgrounds and identities. Highly respected by his colleagues for his masterful collaborative creative process, Soheil’s contribution to the Canadian theatrical landscape has broken barriers facing diverse and immigrant artists, forging new territory for theatre practitioners in his wake. His visionary work stands tall and is a beacon for Canadian theatre at large.
The previous winners of the Barbara Hamilton Memorial Award are Christopher Newton, George Randolph, David S. Craig, Richard Rose, David Ferry, R.H. Thomson, Colin Mochrie, Fiona Reid, Karen Kain, Albert Schultz, Martha Burns, William Hut, Eric Peterson, Maureen Forrester, Charmion King, Mervyn Blake, Douglas Campbell, John Neville, George Luscombe and Don Harron.
The Barbara Hamilton Memorial Award is administered by the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA). The selection committee is chaired by Jim Roe and comprised of Martha Burns, Jacoba Knaapen and Eric Peterson. The recipient is awarded with an official scroll from the City of Toronto and a cash prize of $1,500.
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