Ken MacDonald

Ken MacDonald, Set Designer

Pacific Opera Victoria
The Barber of Seville

February, 2016

Ken MacDonald made his debut with Pacific Opera Victoria as set designer for the October 2012 production of Macbeth, a co-production with Opéra de Québec. He returns in 2016 as set designer for Rossini's The Barber of Seville

An award-winning set designer based in Toronto and Vancouver. Ken MacDonald designs for all of the major theatre companies in Canada. His career has long been associated with that of playwright and director Morris Panych, as actor, and director, but primarily as designer. Together, they have completed over 100 theatre projects.

He has designed across Canada and has garnered a Gemini, 17 Jessie Richardson Awards, a Betty Mitchell Award, and two Dora Mavor Moore Awards.

Recent and upcoming credits include The Shoplifters (Arena Stage, Washington, D.C. and Theatre Calgary); Engaged, Our Town, Sweet Charity, Arms and the Man (Shaw Festival); Wanderlust, Moby Dick, and The Trespassers (Stratford Festival); The Waiting Room, Hamlet, Art (Arts Club Theatre); Parfumerie, 'Night Mother, Blithe Spirit, The Government Inspector (Soulpepper Theatre); The Arsonists, The Overcoat, Vigil (Canadian Stage); Sextet, The Amorous Adventures of Anatol, Marry Me a Little, Benevolence, The Dishwashers, (Tarragon).

His opera credits include The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat (Banff Centre) and Susannah, The Rake's Progress, and The Threepenny Opera, all for Vancouver Opera.

Ken was educated in Vancouver where he graduated from the Art Education Department at UBC in 1972 and received his teaching certificate. He taught high school art for five years before leaving the profession and setting off on his own, beginning as resident designer for Victoria's Belfry Theatre from 1977 to 1980.

Ken has also served as an art director for music video and a designer for film. His design for The Overcoat was featured at the Prague Quadrenniel in 1999.


Panych and Macdonald's plan to bring life to the opera succeeds most brilliantly in the set, stage and costume design. In fact, the set becomes another character – a star of the show. From the opening moments, a daring tone is set: a scrim ... shows credits for the opera, while the orchestra plays the ouverture from the pit. Panych and Macdonald set the entire design theme – deconstructed tartan – in these opening minutes ... One feels as if the play takes place within the demented weave of the witches' sorcery.
Brent Schaus, Monday Magazine, Review of Macbeth at Pacific Opera Victoria, 2012

The design is an unqualified success.When The Waiting Room, which is a musical, starts, about all we see is the sky-blue back wall of the stage. Then tiers of white chairs descend from the fly gallery. The moment is so surreal and simply beautiful that you’re immediately grateful for being in the hands of designer Ken MacDonald.
Colin Thomas, Georgia Straight, Review of The Waiting Room, 2015


January, 2016