.Hockey Mom Hockey Dad

Lennie Macpherson,
The Guardian, PEI (July 2015)

..You’d swear you had just walked into an old community rink. The atmosphere created in Studio 2 is meticulous. The banners, the scaffolding, the printed notices, the wear and the grime and the canteen! 50/50 slingers try to court you with their personalized cadence, “fiFT-AYY, fiFT-AYY.”  Before the puck drops, I have to recognize the work of Set Designer Cory Sincennes. It’s a truly immersive experience...



Star theatre designer brings character to set

  Designer Cory Sincennes on his set for The Country at the Varscona Theatre.    Photograph by: Walter Tychnowicz

Designer Cory Sincennes on his set for The Country at the Varscona Theatre.    Photograph by: Walter Tychnowicz

Liz Nicholls, Edmonton Journal (March 2012 )

         EDMONTON - Walk into the Varscona Theatre these days, and you can sniff the set before you actually see it. It’s a pleasing country smell of wood and earth. The show, opening Thursday in a Wayne Paquette production, is The Country, an oddly cryptic thriller by contemporary Brit playwright Martin Crimp. An urban couple has escaped to the countryside. And, as you might guess, their pastoral idyll isn’t exactly an oasis of calm. Cory Sincennes thinks of his set, with its authentic barnwood, real dirt and wall of rock, as “a living breathing character.” And, as he points out, in a play of nocturnal mysteries and subtext where more is revealed between the lines than in them, the lighting (or rather, the lack thereof) is crucial, too. “I played with darkness.” “Pinter-esque,” says Sincennes, happily, of the fragments that famously add up to menace and uncertainty in a Pinter play. “Nothing is point-blank. Everything is implied. … It doesn’t need to be realism.”   It’s fun to talk plays with Sincennes, this theatre town’s hottest, and busiest, young designer. For one thing he’s been in them himself, in a previous life as “a musical theatre person” in Ontario — before he went to architecture school in another previous life. He takes up Sondheim references like a man discovering a bonus chocolate chip in a cookie. He’s actually interested in plays: He pores over the texts, even if it’s as meagre as The Rocky Horror Show’s; he plays with the possibilities; he has views.  This past week the Citadel’s Bob Baker said exactly that about his meeting with Sincennes to discuss next season’s grand-sized mainstage silliness, Spamalot. “We were ‘hey, wouldn’t it be cool if …?’ It was a blast,” Baker said. The Country is a tangible seminar in the designer’s versatility. So is his elegantly curvilinear Parisian salon for the Mayfield’s seven-door farce Boeing Boeing. So was his misty subterranean cave for Mump and Smoot’s Cracked. If you’re getting the idea that Sincennes is an artist who is perpetually busy, bingo. It’s been that way ever since his arrival from the cool modernist world of Carleton University’s architecture school (“they kept telling me I was too theatrical”) and the Toronto opera/ballet freelance scene, to study theatre design at the university here. Sincennes, who’s still in his mid-20s, hadn’t even graduated when the buzz started. Suddenly, he was designing the complex atmospheric thriller Woman in Black at Theatre Network. “No one knew me; Marianne (director Marianne Copithorne) took a huge risk!” His design for Bashir Lazhar was touring Europe. He’d met and bonded with the intensely original Surreal SoReal artists Jon Lachlan Stewart and Vincent Forcier. The result was the flickering expressionist nightmare of their award-winning Dog. Last fall, the Sincennes brain wrapped itself around the ramped-up glitter (and budget) of the Citadel’s Rocky Horror Show.“We wanted to be crazy out there, sexy, heightened. We wanted to challenge the original but without losing what people remember about an iconic piece,” says Sincennes of his glorious array of corsetry and multi-level, mesh gridwork.The memory of 70-year-old ladies yelling “Slut!” still makes him smile. So does the look on star John Ullyatt’s face when Sincennes showed him a particularly skimpy costume piece: “I’m wearing what!?”
This summer he’ll take that sensibility to the great outdoors, to design set and lights for The Tempest and Julius Caesar for the Freewill Shakespeare Festival. “Magic, spectacle. … I spent my whole life in musicals. And it’s really informed the scale of my work, and my esthetic.

Sparkling up-and-comers make their mark on Edmonton Theatre

Liz Nicholls, Edmonton Journal (Jan 2011)

Cory Sincennes: Designer:
          We’ve been on holiday with them, to a variety of post-apocalyptic destinations, for years. This season, for the first time, we actually got to go home with Mump and Smoot, Canada’s blood-letting “horror clowns,” spend the night and even stay for breakfast.Mump and Smoot’s digs, one of Canadian theatre’s great mysteries till Cracked opened at Theatre Network, were the work of designer Cory Sincennes. His architecture professors at Carlton probably never assigned anything like blueprints for a moody fog-filled cave with no natural lighting sources. And what would they have made of Sincennes’ design for Hard Core Logo: Live, Theatre Network’s stage adaptation of the Canadian punk film classic? It reinvented the Roxy as a convincing replica of a poster-plastered punk venue strung with bare bulbs. He worked on clowns and punks almost simultaneously. “Crunch time,” he says cheerfully. Buzz about designers is a rarer commodity than actorly profile. Since throwing over architecture in favour of theatre, and moving west (via Ryerson and the world of Toronto freelance), to do a theatre design degree at the University of Alberta, the exuberant Ontario native, now in his mid-’20s, has become one of the Edmonton scene’s hottest (and busiest) talents. “Architecture is so ensconced in engineering; there’s so much rigidity. It doesn’t have the same sort of freedom,” he says. “I had to unlearn a lot of stuff about the electricals and plumbing.”   As a kid he was “an actor/dancer/ gymnast ... I thought that was my path.” Wrong, but close. Design turned out to be the path. And Sincennes has walked it in an off-centre, original way. “My training isn’t theatre training,” he says. “It’s more about space, quality of light, function ... and I took those tools into theatre design. I try to create an environment for the audience to experience. An esthetic. A sensibility.” Hard Core Logo was Sincennes’ introduction to a foreign world, “with its own rules and its own anarchists. … I’m musical theatre, opera, classical music,” he laughs. “I’m button-up shirts and cardigans.” Costume designer Sheena Haug, who knows her tattoos and leather, “tried to make me look more punk. I hung out at New City; I was very ‘Method.’ ” Punk music, he says, “isn’t quite my thing. But I grew to have respect for it.”
Sincennes’ graduation project last season was a memorable design, all earthquake imagery, for Studio’s contemporary production of the Brecht classic The Good Woman of Setzuan. Typically, Sincennes made his research a total immersion experience. Even before he emerged from university, though, Sincennes designs were touring Europe (Bashir Lazhar) and living on theatre stages around town (Woman in Black). He’s always been resident designer at Surreal SoReal, a young indie company of experimental, decisively non-naturalist cast. So you’ll see Sincennes’ “set, lights, video, costumes, and who knows what else” in Dog, opening next month in the Roxy Performance Series. And he’s designing both of Opera Nuova’s productions this summer.
The Sincennes mantra: “Create some structure, then go crazy!”....