University of Calgary

Patrick Du Wors

  • Affiliated Instructor (ended on Jan 6, 2017)

Currently Teaching

Not currently teaching any courses.


Patrick Du Wors is a set, costume and lighting designer based in Calgary and was appointed to the faculty of the University of Calgary, School of Creative and Performing Arts in 2013.

Training:  Royal Shakespeare Company, Banff Centre, MFA University of Alberta, BFA University of Victoria

Design credits include:  The Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst – ATP/Ghost River; #UncleJohn – Banff Centre/Canadian Opera Co./ATG; Figaro’s Wedding -ATG; God of Carnage – Theatre Calgary; Falsettos – Acting Up Stage Co., Toronto; Dead Man’s Cell Phone – Persephone, Saskatoon; True West, My Fair Lady, Little Shop of Horrors, Fire, A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman & As You Like It - Blue Bridge Rep, Victoria; Metamorphoses – Globe Theatre, Regina; The Bird – Union Eight/Buddies in Bad Times, Toronto; Last Five Years – the Grand, London; Hush – Tarragon, Toronto; Bird Brain– YPT, Toronto; Chasing the Moment – Arcola Theatre, London UK; Turn of the Screw, & A – Belfry, Victoria.

As a guest designer and/or lecturer:  National Theatre School of Canada, George Brown Theatre School, Sheridan Theatre School, University of Victoria, Ryerson Theatre School, York University

Assistant design credits include: Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) Complete Works Festival Season; Dirty Dancing & Cabaret, London West-End; Netherlands Opera; Norwegian National Opera & Royal Opera Covent Garden

Patrick is the Curator of the Canadian National Exhibition at the 2015 Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design as well as Supervising Faculty Member for the PQ Canadian Student Exhibition.  Patrick is a member of the Associated Designers of Canada


Research Statement

It is possible to divide my work into two major categories of research. The first category is concerned with the deconstruction of familiar or domestic architecture. What makes the reorganization of this deconstruction interesting is through its contrast with modern textures and/or material. My work with this aesthetic has continues - as recently as my set design for Chekhov’s Three Sisters (NTS, 2012) - but the process began with my set design for Death of a Salesman (Blue Bridge Rep, 2009). The design for Death of a Salesman maintained the relationship of spaces described in Arthur Miller’s text, as it had been established by Jo Mielziner’s original Broadway set design. But to convey the central theme of urban encroachment and the individual’s isolation within a failed American dream, I designed a massive concrete wall into which the period domestic spaces of the story would be cut out. The concrete was an anachronistic choice as the text describes the encroachment of brick tenement blocks and an idyllic American home. This choice was deliberately made to resonate with a modern audience: one who may now find exposed brick chic rather than oppressive. To facilitate the dream-like shifts in location, a full-stage-height sliver of concrete, fitted with a period door, whisked across the stage on track, transporting the actors to different locations each time they entered through the door. This approach proved extremely successful in illuminating the author’s intention to a contemporary audience.

Much of my undergraduate and graduate design work was related to the integration of projected media and live performance (Dialogue and Rebuttal, Hysteria). Subsequently in my professional career, my focus has shifted to the still photographic or digitally generated graphic image within the imagined space. With my recent design of Little Shop of Horrors (Blue Bridge Rep, 2012), director Jacob Richmond and I achieved our goal of referencing the original black-and-white Hollywood B movies that served as inspiration for the musical. The grey-scale concept was highly successful when further integrated into the costume designs.  Little Shop is the largest, in terms of scale, application of printed image in my design work to date, but there are two other interesting examples in my portfolio.  The design for Princess Ivona of Burgundia (George Brown College, 2011) incorporated a printed scrim material to achieve a nightmare sequence. The design for Turn of the Screw (Belfry, 2008) incorporated the innovative technique of printing a photographic image onto near-black rear projection material. This allowed for the images to appear and disappear into black as lit from behind and eliminated the throw distance that would have been required to achieve the images with a projector.  In this way, director Gina Wilkinson and I were able to highlight the haunting nature of the story though the sudden apparition of an actor in silhouette.

The common thread between these two quite different approaches to experimental stage design involves a response to the changing theatre audience. As our audience moves more completely into the post-literate age, we must celebrate and continue to seek new ways to speak though design; to resonate with a new, highly visually literate public.


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The design classroom has always been a source of inspiration and lively discussion for me and I believe that the corner stone in the training of all theatre artists lies in the development of the imagination. A theatre artist must be able to tap their imagination to produce a creative response. This process begins by encouraging students to develop thoughtful and passionate opinion on theatrical performance. It is useful to begin this process by teaching critical thought. In the creative arts, however, learning to think critically is not the end step, but rather the beginning. In other words, once a critical evaluation has been made, a solution to this critique must be elicited from the imagination: creativity at its foundation.

Young theatre artists must also be encouraged to reflect on the state of the world they are training to enter. The performing arts, like all art forms, are subject to the ideology, politics and taste of the present. I have found that teaching the history of past trends helps students develop an analysis of the present.

I believe there is a natural point in the education of set, costume and lighting designers where the training becomes more specific in both imagination and technical skill.  Freehand drawing is one of the key tools in teaching students how to see their environment. Technical drafting and the traditional three-dimensional paper model are fundamental to students understanding the idea of scale.  That being said, the relevant skill sets in theatre design are rapidly evolving with the development of technology. To connect my students with my research practice, I share with them the techniques I have developed with the aim of helping them to find the symbiotic relationship between new technology and traditional methods.

A design program must be a laboratory of ideas. Students must be encouraged to take courageous flights of fancy in the development of their imaginations.  Furthermore, for a designer, the successful execution of any idea is dependent on impeccable collaborative skills. These delicate and marvelous exchanges with directors, performers and technicians can only be learned in the actual practice of theatre and it is where the opportunity to mentor students one-on-one is both challenging and rewarding. I believe this kind of one-on-one interaction is essential to the academic and professional development of any future theatre artist.

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