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Shoshana Wasser

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Jani Lauzon honoured with 2021 John Hirsch Director’s Award

June 16, 2021

Jani Lauzon is the recipient of this year’s John Hirsch Director’s Award. The announcement was made this morning during the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA)’s Dora Ancillary Awards Presentation, which was held online on TAPA’s YouTube channel.

About Jani Lauzon

  • Jani Lauzon is a multidisciplinary artist of Métis ancestry. Nominated for multiple Dora Awards as a theatre director, playwright, and actor, she has also been recognized with a Gemini Award for her work as a puppeteer, and as a singer-songwriter with JUNO and Canadian Aboriginal Music Award nominations.

Jani Lauzon

Jani Lauzon.

  • Jani grew up surrounded by creativity – her biological parents were musicians, doll-makers and visual artists, and her foster parents were theatre makers who loved Shakespeare and Broadway musicals. She began her theatre training at the Celebration Mime Theatre in South Paris, Maine.
  • Jani was co-founder and co-managing artistic director of Turtle Gals Performance Ensemble, a Native women’s theatre company that created and toured original work. More recently, she has produced her works (including A Side of Dreams, I Call myself Princess and Prophecy Fog) through her theatre company, Paper Canoe Projects.
  • As a playwright, she has participated in residencies with Factory Theatre, Cahoots Theatre and Nightswimming, as well as The Theatre Centre’s Tracy Wright Global Archive. She also served as Senior Playwright-in-Residence at the Banff Playwright Colony.
Rehearsal photo from Almighty Voice and His Wife.
Rehearsal photo from Almighty Voice and His Wife at Soulpepper (Toronto, Ont.).
  • As a director, Jani was co-recipient of the Toronto Theatre Critics’ Award for Best Director in 2018 for The Monument (Factory Theatre). Selected directing credits include Almighty Voice and His Wife at Soulpepper Theatre (Toronto), Rope at the Shaw Festival (Niagara-on-the-Lake), Alien Creature at Theatre Passe Muraille (Toronto) and I Call myself Princess at the Globe Theatre (Regina, Sask.).

Production still from I Call myself Princess

Production still from I Call myself Princess at the Globe Theatre (Regina, Sask.).

Production still from The Monument
Production still from The Monument at the Factory Theatre (Toronto, Ont.).
  • From 2010-13, Jani was a member of the National Arts Centre English Theatre’s acting company. She is currently the associate director of the National Theatre School’s Acting Program (English).
  • Jani has been a strong advocate for inclusivity of culturally and physically diverse artists on Canadian screens through her work as the Diversity Advocate at ACTRA for more than 20 years. She recently received the ACTRA Toronto Award of Excellence, celebrating both her body of work and her commitment to advocacy for inclusion.


“Jani Lauzon has already established her powerful voice as an actor, puppeteer, and musician – and now, she is concentrating that same vision, wisdom and drive into her work as a theatre director,” said the jury. “She brings a tenacious attention to each play she directs, pushing actors and audiences to new heights, but always with an unflagging sense of compassion. Jani truly embodies the ideals of excellence and innovation that characterized John Hirsch himself.”

About the John Hirsch Director’s Award

  • The John Hirsch Memorial Fund was established in 1989 by a bequest to the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) from the late John Hirsch, one of Canada’s most distinguished directors.
  • The $5,000 award is presented every three years to a promising Ontario-resident theatre director to further the recipient's professional development.
  • The recipient is chosen through a nomination and adjudication process administered by OAC. The jury for this year’s award comprised Alanis King (Ottawa), ahdri zhina mandiela (Toronto) and Jordan Tannahill (London, U.K.).
  • Previous recipients include Miriam Cusson (2017), Jordan Tannahill (2014) and Louise Naubert (2011). Click here for a full list of past recipients.