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This article was published 5/2/2009 (4728 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The veteran artistic director of the francophone theatre company Cercle Molière has been named the seventh recipient of the $30,000 Manitoba Arts Award of Distinction.
The Manitoba Arts Council (MAC), which sponsors the prestigious prize, made the announcement Thursday morning.
"I'm happily surprised," said Mahé, 68, the first francophone to be selected. "(MAC) has always shown us great support. They've been behind us 100 per cent."
St. Boniface playwright Marc Prescott says Mahé's selection was only a matter of time.
"His contribution to Franco-Manitoban theatre has been invaluable," said Prescott, who runs the student theatre company at St. Boniface College.
"He took Cercle Molière and made it a professional theatre company."
A mountain climber in his spare time, Mahé began working with the troupe, which bills itself as Canada's oldest theatre company, as a teenager.
He started directing in 1964 and was appointed artistic director in 1968.
In 1970 he founded a French-language school festival. In 1983, he established the Pauline Boutal scholarship for theatrical training.
He has won numerous national and provincial awards.
"Manitoba's theatre roots are deep," said Mahé, who is currently overseeing the construction of a $9-million new Cercle facility, slated to open in the fall of 2010.
"It all goes back to Len Cariou, John Hirsch and Boutal."
Boutal, who died in 1992, led the Cercle for 25 years when it was a volunteer troupe of theatre hobbyists. She groomed Mahé to be her successor.
MAC instituted the Arts Award of Distinction in 2002 to recognize "the highest level of artistic excellence and distinguished career achievements by a professional Manitoba artist."
Manitoba Theatre for Young People artistic director Leslee Silverman was the first winner. Since then the prize has gone to writer Robert Kroetsch, multimedia artist Grant Guy, filmmaker Guy Maddin, visual artist Aganetha Dyck and composer Robert Turner.
Mahé, who plans to retire soon after Cercle moves into its new building, has not thought of what he'll do with his $30,000. But he doesn't rule out another climbing expedition, perhaps even to Nepal.
"My brother wants me to come with him," Mahé said. "He's picked out the mountain."