The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions which have been hidden by the answers.”

-James Baldwin

What If?
Noam Gonick, Director, Alicia Smith and Bonnie Thompson, Producers

Film director, screenwriter and artist Noam Gonick’s films have premiered at Sundance and Venice and been collected by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. He was elected into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2007. Noam helmed his own children’s theatre company between the ages of 9 and 14, and is now grateful for the opportunity to draw upon those early life experiences in making a documentary about Leslee Silverman.

Leslee Silverman

2011 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Stages (formerly Theatre))

Artistic director

Leslee Silverman is recognized internationally as a leader in theatre for young audiences. As Artistic Director of Manitoba Theatre for Young People (MTYP) since 1982, she has significantly raised the profile and standard of young people’s theatre in Canada and established MTYP as one of this country’s most respected professional theatre companies. An outstanding theatre artist, advocate for young people, and mentor for emerging artists, she has directed over 85 productions for MTYP and was instrumental in establishing Winnipeg’s CanWest Global Performing Arts Centre, the only purpose-built young people’s theatre facility in English Canada.

Each season, MTYP reaches over 135,000 audience members through mainstage productions, touring shows, theatre school classes, drama resource workshops, theatre-in-education activities, and an Aboriginal Arts training program.

Ms. Silverman has redefined young people’s theatre in new artistic directions that embrace social awareness, leading-edge subject matter, and innovative approaches to traditional material. Working with some of the finest theatre artists from Canada and abroad, she contributes to the repertoire of Canadian theatre through the creation and development of new work by emerging and established writers, and enlightens and entertains young audiences with plays that appeal to their imaginations and explore their sense of themselves and their place in the world.

She believes her job is “to help make sure that kids grow up in a culture, not an economy, and that they learn to measure their worth in self-esteem, in creative interpretations of the world around them, and in compassion for others.”

Born in Winnipeg in 1952, Ms. Silverman received a BA (English) from the University of Manitoba and an MA (Developmental Drama) from the University of Colorado. Before embarking on a full-time theatre career, she worked as a freelance director, youth outreach worker and education researcher.

Awards and honours include the Silver Jubilee Commemorative Medal (1992); YWCA Woman of Distinction Award (2001); first recipient, Manitoba Arts Council Award of Distinction (2003); City of Winnipeg Certificate of Appreciation (2003); Honorary Member, Association for Canadian Theatre Research (2004). In 2010, MTYP received the Human Rights Commitment Award for “promoting human rights and social transformation for almost 30 years.”