What do celebrated actors Keanu Reeves, Kathleen Turner, William Hurt and Judd Hirsch all have in common? They were each coaxed, enticed and ultimately persuaded to bring their talents to Winnipeg through the enthusiasm and passion of Steven Schipper.
Mr. Schipper is just coming out of his twenty-fifth year as Artistic Director to the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. During that quarter century, he established the artistic excellence and fiscal stability for which the Royal MTC has become known - a notable achievement given the company’s considerable duress at the time he took the helm. To commemorate his dedication, in 2014, the theatre centre renamed its endowment fund, The Royal MTC Endowment Fund, in honour of Artistic Director Steven Schipper.
As Artistic Director, Mr. Schipper is a tireless champion of the theatre who has cultivated interest in his audience for both classic and contemporary works. In 2013, he staged the world premiere of Gone with the Wind to much acclaim. His depth of commitment to the arts and artistry are unparalleled. While aware that talented Hollywood names draw attention, Mr. Schipper is also a keen promoter of Manitoba actors, ensuring audiences experience and appreciate the talent that exists in our own backyard.
Steven Schipper uses theatre to change the world. This is what creators do.
Through his vision and quiet determination, he has dramatically transformed the theatre community in our city and province, so it is our good fortune that Mr. Schipper chose to practice his craft here. Today, the University of Manitoba is pleased to honour him with its highest award.
He has also been celebrated as the recipient of the David Peacock Award and as a member of the Order of Canada, recognizing his contributions to Canadian theatre.
This passionate born-and-bred Montrealer is now a passionate Winnipegger. Mr. Schipper trained at McGill University, Bishop’s University and the National Theatre School of Canada. He has served as associate director at the Stratford Festival and has directed almost three dozen plays, including world premieres by local and Canadian playwrights. But Mr. Schipper remains dedicated to grassroots theatre. He conceived and directed The History of Manitoba from the Beginning of Time to the Present in 45 Minutes, an award-winning play that tours Manitoba high schools. He also volunteered to direct a summer production of Little Red Riding Hood for the Manitoba Theatre for Young People’s Aboriginal Training Program and directed an all-female production of Les Miserables at Balmoral Hall, setting the classic story in our own city.
Under his artistic direction, the Royal MTC has solidified an international reputation and expanded its purview and audience through popular enterprises such as the annual Fringe Festival and Master Playwright Festival. Mr. Schipper’s innovations include an annual regional tour, much-lauded youth programming, and audience/actor/production panels and in-house tours, all garnering audience involvement and enthusiasm.
The Globe and Mail described Mr. Schipper’s revival of the Manitoba Theatre Centre as “one of Canadian theatre’s most striking success stories”, and in 2010, after years of bold action by Mr. Schipper and the theatre’s general manager and support team, the Manitoba Theatre Centre was recognized with a Royal designation, becoming the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre.
Every great play has a cast of characters who are dedicated, invested and passionate. In this regard, the Royal MTC has a stellar cast and Steven Schipper plays the lead role.
The University of Manitoba is proud to shine a well-deserved spotlight on a visionary and champion whose accomplishments we celebrate today with an honorary degree.