Michael Whitfield

Michael Whitfield
Adjunct Professor
Lighting Design
Office: Phoenix Building Rm. 156

BA University of Victoria; MA Villanova University; PhD University of Illinois

Areas of Research & Creative Activity

Lighting design for theatre, opera and ballet.
Repertory lighting design.
The history of stage lighting.
Theatre architecture, especially in relation to stage lighting.

THEA 348/349: Lighting for the Theatre

Brief Biography

With over four decades of designing nationally and internationally for theatre, opera and ballet, Michael Whitfield is one of Canada’s most versatile and experienced lighting designers. For over 25 years he was Resident Lighting Designer at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival where he created the lighting for over 100 productions on the Festival, Avon and Tom Patterson stages. During his years at Stratford he also participated as a consultant on major upgrades to the lighting rigs at both the Festival and Avon theatres. Concurrently with his work at the Festival, Michael also designed for the Shaw Festival and for many of Canada’s regional theatres, particularly the Grand Theatre, London and the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. 

Since the late 1970’s, Michael has designed extensively for the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto as well as for opera companies across the country in Montreal, Ottawa, Hamilton, Edmonton, Calgary, Banff and Vancouver. He participated in the design process of the proposed Toronto Ballet Opera House in the 1980’s as well as the recently completed Four Seasons Opera House in that city. His work in the United States has included lighting designs for opera companies in San Diego, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Minneapolis and Los Angeles, while overseas his lighting has been seen at the Welsh National Opera and the Netherlands Opera.

Michael’s lighting for ballet and dance has been featured at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada, the American Ballet Theatre, the Finnish National Ballet, the Canadian Native Arts Foundation and the Banff Centre.

In addition to his extensive professional design career, since the early 1970’s Michael has taught at educational institutions including the University of Windsor, the University of Illinois, York University, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh and the National Theatre School of Canada. By taking on apprentice designers as his assistants he has also mentored the careers of many young designers who are now illuminating stage productions across Canada.

Selected recent professional lighting design credits

Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Arena Stage, Washington, D.C., 2012
Romeo and Juliet, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, 2011
Dance Masters, Banff Centre, 2011
Faust, Der Rosenkavalier, Turandot, San Diego Opera, 2011
A Doll’s House, Globe Theatre, Regina, 2010
Madama Butterfly, Canadian Opera Company, 2009
The Boys in the Photograph, Mirvish Productions, Toronto, 2009
There Reigns Love, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Stratford Shakespeare Festival, 2008
The Spitfire Grill, Grand Theatre, London, 2007
The Clean House, Vancouver Playhouse, 2006
Gala Opening, Four Seasons Opera House, Toronto, 2006