David Yee (photo by Dahlia Katz)

Playwright David Yee wins 2023 Siminovitch Prize

David Yee, a playwright who teaches at the University of Toronto Mississauga, has won the prestigious Siminovitch Prize, Canada’s highest valued theatre award.

The lucrative prize is awarded annually to a mid-career professional artist whose groundbreaking work significantly contributes to advancing the art form. It is named after playwright Elinore Siminovitch and University Professor Emeritus Lou Siminovitch.

The Siminovitch laureate receives $75,000 and the opportunity to select an up-and-coming artist to receive a $25,000 protégé prize. Yee, co-founding artistic director of fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company, selected Julie Phan, Toronto writer-performer and arts leader.

“I tell my students that there will come a time in the process of creating a play where you must relinquish control to the play itself – when the play will start to tell you what it wants to be,” Yee said in his acceptance speech. “This is what writing has taught me: how to listen to something greater than myself. Not just as a way to create, but as a way to live in the world.” 

Yee, who studied theatre and drama studies at U of T Mississauga and teaches playwriting at the university, won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama in 2015.

In 2021, he produced an audio drama about the infamous Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, featuring fourth-year students from the Theatre and Drama Studies program offered jointly by U of T Mississauga and Sheridan College.

Watch the Siminovitch Theatre Foundation's video about David Yee's work