Drama grad Joshua Quinlan (BA 2013) calls his selection as a protégé by set and costume designer Gillian Gallow a “liminal moment” in his career in theatre.
In December, Gallow was named the 2021 laureate of the Siminovitch Prize, Canada’s largest and most prestigious theatre award. In addition to the $75,000 award, she received $25,000 to support an emerging artist of her choice. She named two: Quinlan and Joyce Padua.
“I have made my career as an assistant designer, but taking the next step, especially amid this pandemic, felt incredibly daunting,” says Quinlan. “Now, as a Siminovitch Prize Protégé, my aspirations suddenly feel possible.”
His set and costume design work was most recently a part of the Langham Directors’ Workshop at the Stratford Festival, where he has assisted on more than 20 productions. Quinlan has assisted many of Canada’s leading designers for theatres coast to coast, including Terra Bruce, Mirvish, the National Ballet of Canada, Arts Club, the Blyth Festival, Globe Theatre, Edmonton Opera, and Manitoba Opera.
Gallow called his designs “bold and elegant” and commended him for his openness, curiosity, and collaborative spirit, making him “the bright future of our industry.”
Quinlan credits the traditional core training and design mentorship he received at the University of Windsor as inspiring him to pursue theatrical design as a career. After his undergraduate studies, he went on to earn an MFA in theatre design at Ohio State University.
He has returned to his alma mater several times to design for University Players, most recently sets for its 2019 production of Beauty and the Beast. His previous accolades include the Ian and Molly Lindsay Design Fellowship in 2017, the 2019 Tom Patterson Award, and the 2015 Peggy Ezekiel Award of Distinction.
Now, he anticipates this national recognition of his work will support the next stage in his career — the move from assistant designer to principal designer.
George Thomson, chair of the Siminovitch Prize Foundation board of directors, praised all this year’s honorees as embodying “the concept of experimentation and the spirit of invention that are fused together” by the prize.
“We look forward to witnessing the significant contributions they will surely make to theatre in Canada for years to come,” Thomson said.