Gascon-Thomas Award 2007
Brigitte Haentjens and August Schellenberg:
Recipients of the 2007 Gascon-Thomas Award
Montreal, October 22, 2007 – The National Theatre School of Canada (NTS) is proud to announce that this year’s Gascon-Thomas Award will be distinguished upon the illustrious actor August Schellenberg and the incomparable director Brigitte Haentjens. The two will receive the Award at a special ceremony on Friday, October 26th at 12:30 p.m. in the Monument-National’s Ludger-Duvernay Theatre.
The Gascon-Thomas Award recognizes exceptional achievement in theatre. Each year, two artists (one Anglophone and one Francophone) are singled out and honoured for their efforts to shape the world of theatre and for their status as role models to NTS students. Presided over by NTS governor Tom Peacocke, the awarding jury is comprised of several members of the School’s Board of Governors, artistic directors Sherry Bie and Denise Guilbault, Director General Simon Brault, and two student representatives.
The impact that Brigitte Haentjens has made on the theatrical discipline of French Canada is indisputable; the stage would not be the same without her. Her direction is so powerful and so highly anticipated that theatre patrons routinely flock to her work with a dedicated loyalty, curiosity and unwavering respect. Originally from Versailles, she studied in Paris at the Jacques Lecoq School. In 1977, Haentjens moved to Canada where she quickly became a leader in the Franco-Ontarian artistic community, directing the Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario for eight years. In 1991 she moved to Montreal and became the artistic director of the Nouvelle Compagnie Théâtrale (Théâtre Denise-Pelletier) until 1994. During that time the Quebec cultural scene was hit with a whirlwind of creative possibility generated by an independent artist whose directorial choices were marked by rigor and audacity. She was co-president of the Carrefour international de théâtre de Québec from 1996 to 2006 and in 1997 she created her own theatre company, Sibyllines, which this year celebrates its 10th anniversary. Today she has close to 50 directing credits to her name, the most recent of which received many honours including seven nominations by the Association québécoise des critiques de théâtre (she received awards for Quartett and Tout comme elle). She has also been nominated for five Masque Awards for direction (winning for Cloche de verre) and this year is one of the four finalists for the prestigious Siminovitch Prize.
A graduate of the NTS’s Acting Program (1966), August Schellenberg was born in Montreal to an English-Mohawk mother and a Swiss father. He began his acting career in the theatre with a six-month tour of Ontario performing for high school students with the Crest Theatre Hour Company. Work opportunities took him to theatres across Canada including Montreal’s own Centaur and Saidye Bronfman theatres, as well as the prestigious Shaw and Stratford Festival, where in 1967, Stratford bestowed upon him the Tyrone Guthrie Award for most promising actor. At the age of 31, Schellenberg moved to Toronto where he lived until moving to Dallas in 1995. His acting career has taken him to some of America’s greatest stages, i.e. the Guthrie in Minneapolis and New York’s 66th Street Armory. He is a consummate actor, investing himself in every role he has been asked to perform. From Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire, Joseph Stalin in Master Class, to Jamie Paul in The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, the stage has been transformed by his powerful presence. Television saw much of Schellenberg; he performed in the long-running series Lonesome Dove, Walker, Texas Ranger and Canada’s North of 60. He is proud of his heritage and has given life to some outstanding American Indians, both real and fictitious. Think of Chomina in Black Robe, Powhatan in The New World, and now Sitting Bull for which he was nominated for an Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Emmy Award, in the 2007 HBO production of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. He has been honoured by the First Americans in the Arts Awards, American Indian Film Festival Awards, and in 2005, August Schellenberg was one of five inaugural inductees at the Aboriginal Walk of Honour Awards in Edmonton, Alberta. He has been nominated for three Genie Awards (he won for Black Robe) and two Gemini Awards (he won for The Prodigal). Schellenberg has also taught acting seminars at the Centre for Indigenous Theatre and at York University, both in Toronto. He continues to conduct motivational workshops in schools and for cultural and community organizations across North America. More information at www.augustschellenberg.com.
Click here to read the speech of Brigitte Haentjens. (in French)
Click here to read the speech of August Schellenberg.