#56 Susan Benson by Michael Kruse

Designer Susan Benson

Designer Susan Benson

Susan Benson was born in Kent, England, trained as a fine artist but as a member of a theatre family moved quickly in to theatre design. I met with Susan in Victoria in December of 2018 and she recounted her early life and training in England and her development of a robust training environment at the Stratford Festival, where she was the head of design for many years. Susan defends the idea of a theatre designer as an artist and the need of support of traditional theatre spaces to insure we train a future generation of theatre artists. You can follow along visually by finding a copy of Patricia Flood’s new book about Susan’s design career here. You can also find visual references online from Susan’s work here.

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Christopher Timothy - Road Program on Benson on the Knowledge network - Guildhall School of Music and Drama

LAMDA London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts or RADA Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Sunday Times Drama Festival , Harold Hobson

John Neville

Tanya Moiseiwitsch

Royal Shakespeare Company

National Diploma of Design in Britain


Theatre Museum Canada, Alice Through the Looking Glass by Susan Benson

The Ecstasy of Rita Joe

Robin Phillips

The Krannert Centre for the Performing Arts

Peter Franklin White

John Burrell

Michael Whitfield

Gil Wechsler

Manotti’s The Medium 1974 at the Stratford Festival starring Maureen Forrester, directed by Michael Bawtree

The Summoning of Everyman, by Charles Wilson in 1974 at Stratford Festival - search for the title

Twelfth Night, Stratford Festival, 1975 directed by David Jones

Tyrone Guthrie and Michael Langham

Maggie Smith in As You Like It at the Stratford Festival

John Hirsch

David William

John Neville

Richard Monette

Garth Drabinsky and Live Entertainment

Shaw Festival

The Mikado at the Stratford Festival 1982 a great archival video

Desmond Heeley

The Duchess of Malfy at the Stratford Festival NYT review from 1971

The Sarducci’s in the Scene Shop at stratford festival

Lillian Baylis of The Old Vic

Caberet at the Stratford Festival 1987

As You Like It by the National Theatre of Britain 2016

The Wooden “O” of the original Globe Theatre

Pumpkin Breeches

Two Planks and a Passion - its origins in theatre language

Robin Dunn designer for La Forza del Destino directed by John Copley

Madam Butterfly at the Canadian Opera Company designed by Susan Benson

The Golden Ass by by Randolph Peters with libretto by Roberston Davies

Taming of the Shrew at the Birmingham Royal Ballet

Maureen Forester in Iolanthe at The Stratford Festival

Midsummer’s Night Dream directed by Robin Phillips at The Stratford Festival

Cynthia MacLennan, cutter at Stratford Festival

Susan’s Portrait work is also published in a book called Portrait of an Island

Karen Rodd

Patricia Flood

Scott McKowen

#55 Mara Gottler by Michael Kruse


My interview with costume designer Mara Gottler is a continuation of my profiles of Vancouver theatre designers from December 2018. Mara and I speak about her early life at the Stratford festival as a tailor and sewer and her move to the National Theatre School, and eventually Vancouver where she is a founding member and resident designer of the west coast Shakespearian powerhouse Bard on the Beach. We speak about her career and her approach to the conceptualization and communication of design. We also speak about the infra-red camera technique established by Robert Lepage to better incorporate front projection video into your production.


Peter Roberts, production manager Stratford Festival

Pat Scott, cutter at Stratford Fest (scroll down page)

Tom Patterson, founder of Stratford Fest

Desmond Heeley

Brian Jackson

Susan Benson

Tyrone Guthrie

Tanya Moiseiwitsch

François Barbeau

Theatre de Nouveau Monde

Erika Hoffer, Tailor at Stratford Fest

Robert Lepage

Saidye Bronfman Centre

Patrick Clark

Iris Turcott

Full House Theatre

Alan Brodie

Christopher Gaze

Miles Potter

Douglas Campbell

R.H. Thompson

Scott Wentworth

Robert McQueen

Stephen Courtenay

Electric Company’s production of Brilliant

The Nightengale by Robert Lepage

Alan Stichbury

Pamela Howard designer

Dior and the New Look

Coriolanus at Stratford directed by Robert Lepage

The Man of La Mancha designed by Debra Hanson

The Natural Way To Draw by Kimon Nicolaides

World Stage Design Expo

#54 Scott Miller by Michael Kruse


Scott Miller is a partner in DWD Theatre Design and Consulting based in Vancouver BC. He and I speak about our beginnings in Toronto theatre as classmates at Ryerson Theatre School and proceed to a fascinating conversation about designing your theatre. While this is a program about theatre design, we rarely speak about the actual design of our spaces and all the work that goes into them. Scott spoke to me at his office in Vancouver, BC in December 2018, and this is the first of the series of interviews based on the my trip to the west coast in December.

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Gateway Theatre

Caught in the Act, Richmond BC

Ryerson School of Performance (nee Ryerson Theatre School)

York University theatre dept

Touchstone Theatre

Tamahnous Theatre

Rumble Theatre

The Blyth Festival

The Red Barn Theatre in Jackson’s Point and a Retrospective of the Theatre

The fire that burnt the Red Barn theatre

David Vanderlip

Leslie Wilkinson

Nathaniel Kennedy

Janet Amos

Susan Moffet

Crystal Salverda

Martine Beland

Ray Salverda

Brian Cumberland

Tim O’Gorman

Jason McLean

Janet Amos’ Rural Roots; A Memoir about the Blyth Festival

Kawartha Summer Theatre at the Academy Theatre in Lindsay

Katherine Kaszas

Summer Stock Theatre vs. Reperatory Theatre

Drayton Entertainment

Atlantic Theatre Festival in Wolfville NS

Nigel Bennet

Neptune Theatre

Linda Moore

Bruce Klinger

The Rebecca Cohn Theatre

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

Steve Lucas

Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia

Eastern Front Theatre

Just in Time

Brian Perchaluk

Daniel McIver and Daniel Brooks

Darryl Shaw, head electrician

Charlie Culver, head of audio

Bob carpenter, technical award named after him at neptune

Ron Ulrich

Andy Mawdsley

Theatre Aquarius

The Mayfield Dinner Theatre

Skinny Saints

Phillipa Domville, director

Leigh Kerr

Eddie Candysides, designed by Steve Lucas

DWD Theatre Design and Consulting

Robert Hamilton

Douglas College

The Stanley Theatre

The Chan Centre

Douglas Welch

Vancouver Culture Centre

Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Simon Fraser University Downtown Campus

Vancouver Playhouse

The Arts Club Theatre

Artec Consultants Inc.

Theatre Projects

Theatre Consultants Collaborative

Fisher Dachs Associates

LEAD Canada certification

Battleship linoleum

Masonite controversy scroll down :)

Spiralift video

Rigid chain lift

Four Seasons Centre

Doug Morum

ETC Rigging

Chauvet Pro

Elation’s Fuze

Richard Pilbrow

Alan Brodie

#53 Astrid Janson by Michael Kruse


This episode a great conversation with legendary Canadian theatre designer Astrid Janson. I joined Astrid in at her home in November of 2018 to discuss her early days at Toronto Workshop Productions and Toronto Dance Theatre and her set, costume, and yes lighting design work in opera and new theatrical works. Please find her complete portfolio at THIS link. and follow along with this key Canadian designer.

We also briefly remember costume designer Susanne Mess who we lost in Janary 2019, and Mallory Gilbert who passed in February.

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Toronto Workshop Productions

Toronto Dance Theatre

Atlantis by Toronto Dance Theatre, choreography by David Earle, dancers most likely Cornelius Fischer-Credo and Peggy Baker, however could also be any combination of : Kathryn Brown, Barry (Artis) Smith, Sara Pettitt, Patricia Beatty, Danny Grossman, Ricardo Abreut, David Wood, Susan Macpherson, Helen Jones, Norey Drummond, Patricia Miner, John Preston, Merle (Germaine) Salsberg. Costume design by Astrid Janson

Atlantis by Toronto Dance Theatre, choreography by David Earle, dancers most likely Cornelius Fischer-Credo and Peggy Baker, however could also be any combination of : Kathryn Brown, Barry (Artis) Smith, Sara Pettitt, Patricia Beatty, Danny Grossman, Ricardo Abreut, David Wood, Susan Macpherson, Helen Jones, Norey Drummond, Patricia Miner, John Preston, Merle (Germaine) Salsberg. Costume design by Astrid Janson

Roelof Peter Snippe

University of British Columbia

Joy Coghill and the Vancouver Playhouse

Brian Jackson, resident designer at Van Playhouse

John Brockington

Richard Ouzounian

John Grey

Larry Lillo, and a film about his life

Brent Carver

Goldie Semple

A Taste of Honey at UBC, not the same production, but a neat photo

Terminal, part of the Living Theatre tradition by Open Theatre

Much Ado About Nothing - musical at UBC

Susan McPherson

Jim Plaxton

David Earle

Patrica Beatty

Peter Rendazzo

Nancy (Jowsey) Lewis - resident designer at TWP

June Falkner, GM at TWP

George Luscombe

Joan Littlewood

Richard Two-time at TWP

Ten Lost Years at TWP by Jack Winter based on the book by Barry Broadfoot

You Can’t Get There From Here by Jack Winter TWP

The fire at TWP on Alexander St in 1974

CBC Design department and Susanne Mess and some of her designs

The Tommy Hunter Show

The King of Kensington, produced by Perry Rosemond

Home Fires, produced by Robert Sharen and production shots

AIDS crisis in the Arts in Canada

Expo ‘86 Ontario Pavilion and photos of the pavilion by Astrid

Ken Gass

Sholem Dolgoy

HMS Pinafore directed by Leon Major at Stratford Festival starring Michael Burgess

The Cherry Orchard at the Shaw Festival in 1980 notorious

Murray Laufer set designer

John Hirsch

Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Firebird with Vincent Nabrada choreographer

Lotfe Mansouri, Canadian Opera Company, A Tales of Hoffman directed by Hans Nieuwenhuis

Malibar’s Costume House

Robert Desrosiers’ In Cognito at the Calgary Olympics 1988

Opera Philadelphia

Joe Papp at The Public Theatre in New York and his Stable of Designers

Rusalka with Ben Heppner at COC

Dancing at Lughnasa at the Grand Theatre

The Master Builder at TWP directed by George Luscombe 1983-4

Molly Sweeney directed by Miles Potter at Canadian Stage

Women in Mind directed by Martha Henry at the Grand Theatre London

Sweet Bird of Youth at Stratford Festival starring Martha Henry

From the House of the Dead directed by Dina Bertman

Les Canadians at TWP

The Grace of Mary Travers, directed by Martha Henry, Toronto Free Theatre

Village of Small Huts by Michael Hollingsworth

Shadowland Theatre

U of Toronto Drama Department

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

Josef Svoboda

Michigan School of Music - Barber of Seville

Jacob Two Two and the Hooded Fang

Harry Frehner

Jacob Two Two and the Dinosaur

Kodachrome Slide Projector

The Waverly Gallery

#52 Kevin Fraser by Michael Kruse

Lighting Designer Kevin Fraser, photo by David Cooper.

Lighting Designer Kevin Fraser, photo by David Cooper.

Kevin Fraser has been at the Stratford festival for 30 years and designed the lighting for over 500 productions since graduating from Ryerson Theatre School in the late 1970’s. He invited me to his home in Stratford Ontario in August of 2018 and we spoke about his early career and beginnings in Toronto at the Adelaide Court and the Tarragon Theatre and his move into the large festivals including Stratford and Drayton. Find examples of his work here: www.kevinfraserlighting.com.

Please support us on Patreon.com


Frances Mavor Moore and the Mavor Moore Family

Ryerson Theatre School

George Vanier Secondary School

Sandy Black

Jean Charles Black

Sholem Dolgoy

Robert Thomson

Jim Carnright

Dark of the Moon

Canada’s Wonderland

Bjarne Christensen

Theatre Passe Muraille

Maggie and Pierre by Linda Griffiths

Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave by Maynard Collins directed by Paul Thompson at TPM

Leslie Wilkinson

The Blyth Festival

Adelaide Court Theatre at 57 Adelaide St. East Toronto

Théâtre français de Toronto

Phoenix Theatre and Nurse Jane Goes to Hawaii

Factory Theatre

The Tarragon Theatre

Kim Merchiso (SP?) (york university now)

Urjo Kereda (as a critic)

Farther West, directed by Duncan Macintosh designed by Cameron Porteus

The Shaw Festival

Jeffery Dallas

One For The Pot with Heath Lamberts from the Shaw Festival

Heartbreak House designed by Michael Levine

Harry Frehner

Louise Guinand

Photo-sensitive paper

Stratford Festival: Festival Stage

Stratford Festival: Avon Theatre

Stratford Festival: Tom Patterson Theatre

Soulpepper Theatre

John Neville

David William

Pericles, directed by Richard Ouzounian

Boys from Syracuse, based on Comedy of Errors

Robbin Phillips’ young company at Stratford

Bernard Hopkins

Love’s Labour’s Lost in 1989 at the Stratford Festival

Opera Atelier

Marshall Pynkoski

Theatre Aquarius

Myrthis by J.P. Rameau

McMillan Theatre

Baroque theatre lighting history

Carbon 14

Gerard Gauci

Bonnie Beecher

Pani Projectors

Dido and Aeneas

Drayton Entertainment

Alex Mustakas

Tanya Moiseiwitsch set for stratford current configuration

Original Stratford Stage


ETC Luster 2

Michael Whitfield

Des McAnuff

Caberet at Stratford Festival in 1980

Changeover at the Stratford festival

Vari-Lite VL1000

Avab moving yokes

#51 Glenn Davidson by Michael Kruse

Designer Glenn Davidson

Designer Glenn Davidson

Glenn Davidson sat down with the Title Block in August of 2018 to talk old times and design. Among our topics were included the start of the Toronto Fringe Festival and the Poor Alex Theatre Group as well as his early work as an actor and his most recent design work with the Tarragon, Tafalmusik and beyond. Also, if you don’t know what a “golden donut” is, you will have to listen right to the end.

In the production shots below, I have attempted to include all of the credits that we can find, if you know who is featured in the production shots, or the other designers on the project please email us at thetitleblock@gmail.com.

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University of Ottawa theatre program

Maristella Roca

Michael Stevens - NAC

Bob DeMetril

Richard Pilbrow’s Stage Lighting

Sue LaPage

Goodnight Desdemona Good Morning Juliet

The Centre in the Square

Henry V and Mother Courage in rep at NAC, directed by John Wood

Derek Ralston

Joan Orenstein

Loot by Joe Orton at the NAC

Ben Campbell

Edward Atienza

Festival of Classics, Pericles directed by John Wood

Nellie McClung CBC documentary

The Theatre Centre on the Danforth (Now the Music Hall)

Necessary Angel

Autumn Leaf Performance

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

The Piano of Death by Sky Gilbert

Sargent Trowels Legion Hall on Queen St.

SOC - (silent on camera)

Oresteia, libretto by Maristella Roca

Julie Owens (nee bishop) of Theatre Columbus, now Common Boots Theatre with Martha Ross and Leah Cherniak

University of Toronto Drama Dept

Harbourfront Centre

Daniel Brooks

Don McKellar

Tracy Wright

Andrea Lundy

1492 by Theatre Columbus at the Factory Theatre 1992. Sets and Lights by Glenn Davidson. Photo by Glenn Davidson

1492 by Theatre Columbus at the Factory Theatre 1992. Sets and Lights by Glenn Davidson. Photo by Glenn Davidson

Maquette of He Won’t Come In From The Barn by Ted Johns at the Blyth Festival 1994, directed by Paul Thompson, set and costume design by Glenn Davidson, lighting design by Michael Kruse. Photo credit North Huron Publishing.

Maquette of He Won’t Come In From The Barn by Ted Johns at the Blyth Festival 1994, directed by Paul Thompson, set and costume design by Glenn Davidson, lighting design by Michael Kruse. Photo credit North Huron Publishing.

Pinocchio by Maristella Roca at Young People’s Theatre 1993, directed by Richard Greenblatt, lighting and sets by Glenn Davidson

Pinocchio by Maristella Roca at Young People’s Theatre 1993, directed by Richard Greenblatt, lighting and sets by Glenn Davidson

Pinocchio at Young Peoples Theatre

Poor Alex Theatre

Roger West

Le Groupe de la Place Royale

Raha Javanfar

Crow’s Theatre

Theatre Smith-Gilmore - there was no 4th company to found Poor Alex Theatre Group

The Augusta Company - Daniel Brooks and Tracy Wright’s company

The Hobbit by Kim Seledoy at Young People’s Theatre, directed by Jim Warren, set and lighting by Glenn Davidson. Costumes and actor credit unknown.

The Hobbit by Kim Seledoy at Young People’s Theatre, directed by Jim Warren, set and lighting by Glenn Davidson. Costumes and actor credit unknown.

Romeo and Juliet, by Ballet Jorgen, produced by Hong Kong Ballet, sets by Glenn Davidson

Romeo and Juliet, by Ballet Jorgen, produced by Hong Kong Ballet, sets by Glenn Davidson

#50 Dana Osborne by Michael Kruse

Designer Dana Osborne, photo by David Cooper

Designer Dana Osborne, photo by David Cooper

Dana Osborne is a set and costume designer based out of Stratford Ontario. She started out working in some of the top wardrobe shops in the country, including the Canadian Opera Company, the Shaw Festival, and the Mirvish shops when they still owned them. We talk about her transition to design and her work over the last 20 years in Canadian theatre. Find samples of her work at www.danaosborne.ca

To support the show, go to patreon.com/thetitleblockpodcast


Duncan BC

York University Theatre Program

Jason Bendig

Deeter Shurig

Karla Falconbridge

Amy Cummings

Alison Sharpe

Canada’s Wonderland

Peter McBoyle

Norwegian Cruise Lines Performance

Canadian Opera Company

Michael Levine

Hill of bodies show: Igor Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex and Symphony of Psalms at COC 1997

Jeff Churchhill bootmaker

Cunning Little Vixon, Canadian Opera Company

Sharon Secord

The Shaw Festival

Carol Holland

Christopher Newton

Brenda Clark Lion King Mirvish

Mamma Mia, Mirvish

Kelly Sullivan, seamless costumes

Edge Scenic, gone now, with Bratton surving

The Stratford Festival

Doug Lemke

Michael Gianfrancesco

Lorenzo Savoini

April Viczko

Francesca Callow, on Twelfth night

Peter Hartwell, Good Mother

Katka Hubacek

Aaron Felker

Agamemnon, at Stratford, directed by Steven Ouimette, starring Peter Donaldson and Tom McCamus

Daryl Cloran and Theatre Front produced Mojo

Theatre By the Bay

Rob Thomson

Erica Hassel

Timon of Athens

Ken Gass at Factory Theatre

Tarragon Theatre

Young People Theatre

The Sarajevo Project, by Daryl Cloran and Theatre Front

Amanda Plummer

Cameron Porteus

Ann Curtis

Richard Monette’s Gigi at Stratford

Ken MacDonald and Morris Panych

Charlotte Dean

Moby Dick at Stratford Festival

Donna Fiore

Charlie Brown at Stratford Festival

Fiddler on the Roof at Stratford Festival at 2013

Allen Moyer

Designer Fabric Outlet, Toronto

Rocky Horror Picture Show, Stratford Festival

King Henry IV Part 1 at the Stratford Festival, directed by Richard Monette

Santo Loquasto

Doug Paraschuk

Dream in High Park

David Latham and the Globe Theatre, Regina

Ruth Smilie

The Grand Theatre, London

Jamie Nesbitt

Michael Walton

Damian Atkins

People Places Things

The Bellows: From Page To Stage by Michael Kruse

The Bellows logo.jpg

This time on The Bellows we feature a conversation about the genesis and production of Pearle Harbour: Chautauqua, from the spark of an idea to the gathering of the creative team and the final realization in the marvelous 40-seat revival tent installed at Theatre Passe Muraille in October in 2018. A subset of the creative team, creator of the Pearle Harbour persona, Justin Miller, musical director and composer Steven Conway and stage manager Guiseppe Condello discuss the development of a fabulous piece of bouffant theatre and drag performance.

The Bellows Toronto is a collective committed to fostering discussion about all issues concerning theatre production and has existed since 2015. The Bellows is Pip Bradford, Rebecca Hooton, Kevin Hutson, Christopher Ross, and Michael Kruse.


Giuseppe Condello

Stage Mananger for Pearle Harbour. Guiseppe is a Toronto based stage manager, theatre technician and budding lighting designer. He has managed stages for Canadian Rep Theatre's remount of TOUGH! (2016) and Dreams (2016) by Wajdi Mouawad. As lighting designer, Giuseppe lit the stage for the world premiere of George F. Walker's Damage Done (2016), and more recently, The Beckett Shorts (2017) for director Adam Paolozza. Giuseppe has been Pearle's stage manager since the very beginning, and has become her good luck charm.

Steven Conway

Steven's teaching philosophy is that effectively communicating enthusiasm is the best way to inspire it in others. He is thrilled to have the chance to share his love of music with Rainbow Songs students.

Trained for 10 years in piano and theory at the Royal Conservatory of Music, with a background in choir, musical theatre, and improv, Steven is also self-taught in a variety of instruments, and is constantly seeking new ways to expand his musical vocabulary.

After completing his Master’s degree in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Toronto in 2015, Steven has performed in musical ensembles across the city, and continues to work as a musical director, accompanist, and composer within Toronto’s independent theatre scene.

As a member of the Rainbow Songs team, Steven is eager to facilitate learning, community, and joy through the love of music.

Justin Miller

Artistic Director for Pearle Harbour. Justin is a queer, Toronto-based theatre artist. As a creator, his work explores bouffon, clown, drag, and the writing that can be magnified by those styles. As a writer, he's the author of seven full-length shows in the Pearle Harbour series. As an actor, his work has been called "riveting" (NOW) and "a tour de force" (Stage Door). He has won the Audience Choice Award at SummerWorks; nominations include the Dora Award for Outstanding Male Performance, and Outstanding Solo Performance by My Entertainment World.

Pearle Harbour

An all-American gal who's sweet-as-pie and sharp-as-nails, Pearle Harbour was born on [information withheld], when America was still Great. During the War, she served as a stewardess aboard top-secret bomber missions, including [information withheld], and even [information withheld]!

An accomplished soloist - on the boards and in the sheets - Pearle has played to audiences at The SummerWorks Performance Festival, The Second City, Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, Theatre Passe Muraille, The Theatre Centre, Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, Opera5, Videofag, The Comedy Bar, The Wrecking Ball, Pressgang Storytelling, The Gladstone Hotel, and countless cabarets, concerts, and clubs across Canada.