Cameron Porteous

Cameron Porteous, Production Designer

Pacific Opera Victoria
The Marriage of Figaro

April / May, 2014


Cameron Porteous makes his Pacific Opera Victoria debut in April 2014 as Production Designer for The Marriage of Figaro.

Mr. Porteous has had a prolific career in theatre and opera design, working in most major theatres across Canada as well as designing extensively for film and television. His work combines an international perspective with a distinctly personal style of theatrical design which flourished during a robust period of Canadian theatre history. He led the way in expanding our view of design beyond traditional models, embracing perspectives from beyond our borders and anticipating our modern multicultural and multi-media theatre. He continues to work in theatre, film, and television and has influenced many emerging designers through his teaching, mentoring, and creative work.

Cameron Porteous was born in Rosetown, Saskatchewan and at age 15 moved with his familyt to Vancouver, where he later studied theatre at the University of British Columbia. After graduation, he worked at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Vancouver and subsequently became the Head Scenic Painter for the Canadian Television Network. In the 1960s, he studied at the Wimbledon School of Fine Arts in England. The European experience was to mark his work and path as a designer in Canada.

Shortly after his return to Canada, he began to collaborate with Christopher Newton, Artistic Director of the Vancouver Playhouse, and in 1972 he was appointed Head of Design. He moved with Newton to the Shaw Festival where he served as Head of Design from 1980 to 1997. Among his many Shaw Festival credits, his designs are vividly remembered for such favourites as Peter Pan, Major Barbara, Cavalcade, Caesar and Cleopatra, Cyrano de Bergerac, Saint Joan, and in 2005, Journey's End.

Across Canada, he has designed for Centre Stage (now CanStage), Tarragon Theatre, Young People's Theatre, the Royal Alexandra in Toronto, the Stratford Festival, the Grand Theatre in London, the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Citadel Theatre, The Banff Centre of Fine Arts, Shea's Theatre in Buffalo New York, The Arts Club Theatre, and the Vancouver Playhouse.

These productions range from Shakespeare to Stoppard. He has also designed for operas for Vancouver Opera, the National Arts Centre, Opera Hamilton and the Canadian Opera Company.

Mr. Porteous has designed extensively for film and television, including Barrymore and Bailey's Billions. His set and costume designs for the Emmy Award-winning children's film Beethoven Lives Upstairs led him back to Prague to production design another six films in the popular Children's Composers Film Series. Mr. Porteous has filmed in Italy and Ireland, designing the Composers' Specials, Artists' Specials, and Inventors' Specials series, shot in Slovakia, Czech Republic, Quebec and Ontario for a total of 19 films for young audiences. His work for television includes the set design for the 1994 Gemini Awards and the YTV 1994-95 Youth Achievement Awards among numerous other screen projects.

Cameron Porteous' designs have been exhibited in Toronto, Vancouver and internationally at the Prague Quadrennial, as well as The Bolshoi Drama Theatre in St. Petersburg Russia.

Numerous awards include a Canadian Centennial Scholarship in London, England, and the Queen's Jubilee Medal for contributions to Canadian theatre. He served on the Canada Council's Arts Advisory Panel from 1978 to 1981. He has taught design at the University of British Columbia, the Banff School of Fine Arts and at Ryerson University.

In March 1996, Mr. Porteous was the curator for the first All Ontario Exhibition of Theatre Design and Architecture at the World Stage Festival and in 1998 was the curator for Prelude to Prague, the Canadian Exhibition for the Prague Quadrennial 1999, again at the World Stage Festival at Harbourfront.

His designs have been exhibited in a touring 40-year retrospective: Risking the Void – the Work of Cameron Porteous.

Mr. Porteous is an honorary member of the Associated Designers of Canada.

She had a wonderful ally in that superb designer, Cameron Porteous, making a welcome return to the place where he created magic for many years. Each one of the play’s acts is in a different colour: red, blue, green, gold. His sets are all individual gems
Richard Ouzounian, Toronto Star review of The Millionairess, Shaw Festival, 2012

Cameron can make theatrical moments that connect viscerally with an audience, unexplainable images that are both true and relevant, and windows into other worlds that parallel our own.
Director Christopher Newton

April, 2014