Set & Costume Sources
Designers agree that Toronto has wonderful crafts and tech people who do just about anything well. â€śIt's partly because of our proximity to the Shaw and Stratford Festivals [which] fostered generations of designers and technicians who are still able to take the time to create beautiful things,â€ť says Patricia Flood, who also credits Toronto's film industry for â€śtraining a whole generation of technicians and special effects people.â€ť
Michael Levine likes prop maker Grace Negatsu, mask maker/sculptor Karyn Rodd, and costume maker Avril Stevenson who â€śhas a talent for making beautiful period clothes with the technical capacity to make them work for the theatre.â€ť At the Canadian Opera Company workshop, he's found â€śa highly creative group of craftsman, capable of doing almost anything.â€ť
Flood likes two of the many good shops that build and paint sets, Hot Sets and McWood, and says Paragon is a first rate prop shop. She says U.B. Signs & Graphics is the place to go â€śin the film industry for all your graphic needs.â€ť
Sean Breaugh says Seamless Costumes â€śdoes mega musicals and films brilliantly-terrific staff, wonderful to work with, and utterly professional.â€ť For shoes, he goes to a talented artisan, Sarah Rotering. Baroque costume specialist Dora Rust-D'Eye provides â€śbrilliant variations on period themes for renowned Opera Atelier.â€ť His millinery pick is Jane Abbott, a â€śtalented artisan, personable, and knowledgeable.â€ť Wotever Inc. provides costume kit rentals/fit up for film.
Paul Court frequents Active Surplus, â€śa marvelous and chaotic collection of used, obscure, and obsolescent electronic and mechanical components. Great for building contraptions, gadgets, and retro futuristic gewgaws. Look for the stuffed gorilla in the front.â€ť
Shawn Kerwin likes Designer Fabric Outlet for notions, accessories, and fabrics that include upholstery and dress, wools/suiting. â€śYou can rent one-meter samples to take away and show others,â€ť she says. Charlotte Dean also uses Designer Fabric Outlet, which â€śhas just about any fabric you might need for interiors or costuming.â€ť
Kerwin adds that there are numerous fabric shops on Queen Street West between Spadina and Augusta. â€śGerrard Street East between Green Wood and Coxwell is a very large East Indian neighborhood with many sari shops, great for fabric.â€ť Her favorites? Kala Kendar and Sonu Saree. And Spadina Ave. from College Street to Queen Street in Chinatown has â€śgreat stores for baskets, bambooâ€ť and more.
Brad Trenaman trusts DMX guru Steve Plotkin. â€śAlthough Steve still holds down his day job as a board operator for the CBC, he is the man you can always call if you have a DMX gremlin that you can't quite figure out. Not only will he guide you in the right direction, you'll probably learn ten things you did not know about the console you're using.â€ť
Midnite Hour Productions consistently expands â€śits inventory to include the latest in lighting technology backed by one of the best repair shops in the city,â€ť says Trenaman.
Eric Bartnes joins Trenaman in applauding The Source Shop. Bartnes also likes Radiant Concepts, â€śon time, price is fair, nice people, and when you are jammed up, they open on a Sunday, make you a couple of gobos and deliver them to you on site,â€ť he says.
For sound-related issues, Trenaman goes to RP Dynamics, a small company with â€śthe know-how and the equipment to solve even the most complex problemsâ€ť and that is particularly good with wireless systems.
Researching a Design
Court says the Royal Ontario Museum boasts 19 curatorial departments and many spectacular exhibits. The Bata Shoe Museum displays â€śshoes from all over the world and practically every period of history.â€ť And, adds Court, the shoe-filled â€śbuilding itself is a post-modernist take on a shoe box.â€ť He says you can see â€śtextiles from around the world, including fabrics, ceremonial cloths, garments, carpets, quilts, and related artifactsâ€ť at the Textile Museum of Canada. The TMC â€śhas a permanent collection of over 10,000 piecesâ€¦categorized geographically from Pre-Columbian and Coptic textiles, to Indian and Burmese temple hangings, to William Morris fabrics.â€ť
Dean uses the Toronto Reference Library's Picture Collection, â€śloads of files collected over the years that reference just about anything. Just think Google image, but in files, and tactile.â€ť She visits the CBC Broadcasting Centre (appointment required, fee charged). Flood does too and says it's worth the fee. â€śThe CBC design library has been working with costume, set, and graphic designers for years and their collection and the help they give you to find things is very special,â€ť says Flood.
Dean and Levine also like Robarts Library, available to members. Kerwin finds books for theatre, art, and architecture at Theatre Books, Pages, Ballenford Books, and David Mirvish Books/Books on Art.
Venues Designers Like
The Factor Theater makes three lists. Kerwin says along with Theatre Passe Muraille, the Tarragon Theatre, and the Theatre Centre, it does â€śsome of the more progressive work.â€ť Levine's similar list includes the Ice House at Harbourfront and the new Opera House, still under construction. Companies he likes include Necessary Angel, Da Da Kamera, Dancemakers, and the Toronto Dance Theatre. Dean says old Massey Hall is the â€śbest place to hear a concert acoustically.â€ť The Tarragon makes her list, too, for great Canadian plays, as does the Royal Alexandra Theatre.
Bartnes says Arcadian Court is an â€śLD's dream except for the lack of rigging point.â€ť The Sheraton Centre Grand Ballroom, redesigned by a techie, has â€ślots of power and circuits, points galore.â€ť Trenaman's favorites are The Betty Oliphant Theatre at The National Ballet School, which has â€śone of the largest stages in the city and one of the best lighting inventories to match, yet seats less than 300 people. [The] crew always goes way above and beyond,â€ť he says. He also likes the CIBC Stage at Harbourfront Centre, a 3,000+-seat venue overlooking Lake Ontario. The Living Arts Centre in Mississauga is â€śsimply gorgeousâ€ť and has excellent acoustics.
WHERE TO GO IN TORONTO: SETS
Grace Negatsu: 416-588-3693
Hot Sets: 416-778-4114 (John Bankson)
McWood: 416-504-0965 (Mac Thomas)
Paragon Props: 905 469-0061, paragonprops.com
UB Signs & Graphics: 416-533-6494
Avril Stevenson: 905-468-5156
Designer Fabric Outlet: 416-53-2810, www.designerfabrics.ca
Dora Rust-D'Eye: 416-962-4878
Jane Abbott: 416-603-3843
Kala Kendar: 416-463-3111, www.kalakendar.com
Karyn Rodd: 416-535-3268
Seamless Costumes: 416-533-3434 (Sharon Secord), www.seamlesscostumes.com
Sarah Rotering: www.roteringshoes.com
Wotever Inc: www.wotever-inc.com
Radiant Concepts Inc.: www.radiantconcepts.com
Steve Plotkin: email@example.com
Royal Ontario Museum: 416-586-8000, www.rom.on.ca
Theatre Books: 416-922-7175, www.theatrebooks.com
Pages Books: 416-598-1447, www.pagesbooks.ca
Ballenford Books: 416-588-0800, www.ballenford.com
David Mirvish Books/Books on Art: 416-531-9975, www.dmbooks.com
The Bata Shoe Museum: www.batashoemuseum.ca
Textile Museum of Canada: www.textilemuseum.ca
CBC Broadcasting Centre: 416-205-3242
Robarts Library: 416-978-8450
Toronto Reference Library: 416-395-5577
Eric Bartnes: www.bartnes.com
Sean Breaugh: www.imdb.com/name/nm0106464
Patricia Flood: www.imdb.com/name/nm0282567
Shawn Kerwin: www.finearts.yorku.ca/faculty/profs/kerwin.htm
Brad Trenaman: www.radiantconcepts.com/radiant/staff_r.html