Porteous, John Cameron
John Cameron Porteous, stage and costume designer (b at Rosetown, Sask 2 Feb 1937). One of Canada's most distinguished designers and a veteran of the Canadian stage since the late 1960s, Porteous studied design at the Wimbledon School of Art in London, England.
Porteous first attracted attention as design director for the VANCOUVER PLAYHOUSE (1972-81) and then went on to become head of design at the SHAW FESTIVAL (1980-97), where he visualized such diverse and memorable productions as the deeply romantic period piece Cyrano de Bergerac (1982-83); the witty, meta-theatrical Caesar and Cleopatra (1983); and the technically brilliant and resoundingly successful Cavalcade (1985, remounted in 1986 and 1995). At both theatres, he worked extensively with director Christopher NEWTON, a collaboration that represents one of the most enduring and successful director-designer relationships in the history of Canadian theatre. Together they established the Shaw Festival as a major international company and championed the notion of "total design," a concept that attempts to ensure the unity of the visual presentation by assigning both set and costumes to the same artist.
Across Canada, Porteous's extensive theatre portfolio includes designs for the TARRAGON THEATRE, the GRAND THEATRE in London, the NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE in Ottawa, the CITADEL THEATRE in Edmonton, and the Vancouver Opera. A master of design technology, he frequently employs projections to illuminate, both literally and metaphorically, bold yet elegantly simple architectural structures. His designs have also appeared in a wide variety of national and international television and film projects, including the Emmy Award-winning children's classic Beethoven Lives Upstairs (1991).
Porteous's numerous awards include a Canadian Centennial Scholarship and the Queen's Jubilee Medal for contributions to Canadian theatre. Since 1979 he has been a frequent contributor to the Prague Quadrennial, the world exhibition and competition of stage design. He has taught design at the University of British Columbia and the Banff School of Fine Arts (seeBANFF CENTRE FOR CONTINUING EDUCATION), and is a member of the Associated Designers of Canada and the Directors Guild of Canada.