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Theatre Replacement | Siminovitch Prize

Maiko Yamamoto | Siminovitch Prize

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.”

Photo by Stephen Drover

Theatre Replacement is an ongoing collaboration between James Long and Maiko Yamamoto. Whether working together or apart, we use extended processes to create performances from intentionally simple beginnings. Our work is about a genuine attempt to coexist. Conversations, interviews and arguments collide with Yamamoto and Long’s aesthetics, resulting in theatrical experiences that are authentic, immediate and hopeful.

The company continues to build and tour work, and has been presented at internationally recognized festivals and venues including: Festival TransAmériques (Montréal), Magnetic North Theatre Festival (Ottawa, Vancouver, Kitchener), Free Fall Festival and Factory Theatre (Toronto), High Performance Rodeo & Enbridge PlayRites Festival (Calgary), On the Boards (Seattle), Fusebox Festival (Austin, TX), Noorderzon Festival (Groningen, NL), PAZZ Performing Arts Festival (Oldenburg, Germany), Lókal and Everybody’s Spectacular Festivals (Reykjavik), A! Festival (Akureyri, Iceland), Terni Festival (Italy), Dublin Fringe Festival and Dublin Theatre Festival (Ireland), Foreign Affairs (Berlin), Soho Rep. (New York), Woolly Mammoth (Washington, DC), Portland Repertory Theatre (Portland, Oregon), artsdepot (London), Cambridge Junction (Cambridge, UK), foldA Festival (Kingston, ON), BASTARDFESTIVALEN and Meteor Festival (Norway).

Since 2003, Maiko has been an Artistic Director of Theatre Replacement, a company she formed with fellow artist James Long. The company’s work has focused on building new, experimental and intercultural performances that react to contemporary existence through a highly evolved and extended process of collaboration, and explores unique and challenging ways of using content and staging material. In addition to her work with T/R, Maiko directs, writes, teaches, mentors and creates contemporary performance for and with a diverse range of companies and institutions, including the National Theatre School, Company 605, the Vancouver Art Gallery and the MAKE Artists Residency in Ireland, among others. She holds a BFA in Theatre from Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts and a MAA in Visual Art from Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

James Long artistic directs Theatre Replacement with fellow artist Maiko Yamamoto. Recent freelance work outside the company includes Morko and its partner piece Loch — both site oriented performances created with visual artist and animator Cindy Mochizuki as well as directing King Arthur’s Night, a new incarnation of the King Arthur story as told by Niall McNeil and Marcus Youssef of Neworld Theatre. In addition to creating new works of performance for national and international audiences, James teaches performance, methods of creation and performance structures to established artists and students across Canada. He is a graduate of SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts and holds a Master’s Degree in Urban Studies, also from SFU.

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