Phillip SilverPhillip Silver, set designer, costume designer, lighting designer, professor (b at Edmonton 30 June 1943). Phillip Silver's theatrical life began as a child actor in Edmonton's amateur theatre scene, which inspired him to pursue acting, directing and designing. He has cited Canadian playwright Elsie PARK GOWAN as a mentor. Her emphasis on the importance of a play's text encouraged Silver to earn a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Alberta (1964) prior to studying production design at the NATIONAL THEATRE SCHOOL OF CANADA, where he began to explore his lifelong interest in using set, lighting and costume to accurately tell theatrical stories. A romantic, Silver is drawn to projects that give audiences a vivid emotional experience. His belief that audiences wish to learn about life through the make-believe world of theatre has shaped Silver's design of classical and contemporary plays, opera and musicals.
Phillip Silver's esthetics are concerned with space and its relationship to text or music, which inspires him to consider the flow of stage traffic, dimensions and the space of storytelling. A "sculptural" designer, he considers the unified stage picture and selects colours and textures that enhance his vision of a play's historical period. He considers the individual character and the way costume or dress serves the actor's performance. For Silver, memory is largely contained in lighting and lighting helps the audience to focus on important moments in a performance. Each of his signature designs accentuates significant moments in a play's text.
Silver's design craft spans several theatrical genres. Over more than 4 decades, he has designed for operas such as THE CANADIAN OPERA COMPANY's Giuilio Cesare in Egitto (2001) and Pacific Opera Victoria's The Marriage of Figaro (2003), classic plays such as Hamlet and The Merchant of Venice, and the musicals Man of La Mancha and Aspects of Love. Silver's work on the STRATFORD FESTIVAL's production of The Merchant of Venice (1996) and the CITADEL THEATRE's version of Wit (2003) has appeared at the Canadian national design exhibit at the Prague Quadrennial.
Silver, whose work has appeared on most of Canada's acclaimed stages, was resident designer for Edmonton's Citadel Theatre from 1967 to 1978. During his tenure he was instrumental in the 1976 transition from the original 277-seat Citadel Theatre to its larger home. His interest in the relationship of audience and performer continued in his work on other theatre facilities including the University of Lethbridge and the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
Phillip Silver became an associate professor of theatre (stage design) at York University in 1982 and served a 10-year term as dean of the faculty of fine arts. He has served as president of the Associated Designers of Canada.
Silver is the winner of 3 DORA AWARDS for Pal Joey (1986), Aspects of Love (1992) and Democracy (1992), the Sterling Award for Aspects of Love (1992), and a Queen's Jubilee Silver Medal for his contributions to arts and culture. The Royal Canadian Academy of Arts honoured his achievements in design by inducting him as a member in 2008.