Cory Sincennes is an award-winning designer, whose set, costume, lighting, and video designs have received both national and international recognition. Cory earned a degree in Architectural Studies from Carleton University before studying design at Ryerson Theatre School. He also holds a MFA in Theatre Design from the University of Alberta. Recent designs include Shakespeare in Love, Crazy for You, Million Dollar Quartet, Venus in Fur, Romeo and Juliet, Spamalot, The Rocky Horror Show, Anne of Green Gables, Evangeline, Liberation Days, Peter and the Starcatcher, Les Miserables, Mary Poppins, Next to Normal, Last 5 Years, and Michel and Ti-Jean. Cory is the set and costume designer for the Citadel’s season opener, Once.

Citadel Theatre: What is your inspiration for the set design?
Cory Sincennes: Once is a beautiful story about an odd, unconventional romance. And, in the script, the show takes place in a million locations – it’s very cinematographic, like the movie. So the set needed to be something that could be very transformative and take us from one location to the next within a second. So I didn’t want to go ‘It’s in a bar’ or it’s in this part of the story or the script. So we created an abstract representation of Ireland so the audience, when they come in, they will see different parts of skies, bricks, grasses, and hills – all the iconic things that when you think of Ireland. That’s our inspiration and we’ve pulled that together into a shape that works for us.

CT: How will the set design reflect the themes of the show?
CS: The set acts as a metaphor for the piece and also the backdrop for the emotion of it. The walls are very sky-like and, through lighting – with Louise Guinand, who is lighting the show – we’re going to help reinforce the themes and the story in the moments that are happening.

CT: What will the costumes be like?
CS: It’s contemporary, so we’re setting it now. It’s very urban. The costumes will represent each character individually and hopefully the audience will be able to understand who all these characters that come into Guy and Girl’s life are and their back story. It’s definitely inspired by Ireland-esque countryside vibes, so they’ll be some of the classic British textures that you think of when you think of that. But it’s definitely contemporary – it’s a young love story so it’s more modern.

CT: Can you tell us about the streetscape design for the Shoctor Lobby?
CS: The way the show is, there’s what’s called a céilí before the show – it’s sort of a big party and that happens before the actual show begins. We’re taking that idea and kind of exploding that into the whole theatre. So the experience for the audience starts the moment they enter the theatre. We’re transforming the lobby into an extension of the set, so there will be vistas of Ireland, and the bar itself will be sort of a pub. They’ll be a band playing – a street busker – so the vibe of it starts early on, sort of a party atmosphere.

CT: What are some of the challenges of designing set and costumes for this show?
CS: I think the challenge is that there are so many locations in this show. Within a minute, you go from a bar to a bedroom to the top of a cliff, and you have to get there within a lighting shift. So having items that represent those locations that the audience gets immediately I think is the most challenging but also the most fun – sort of the most creative magic.
The show has an accidental kind of music quality, where everyone joins in – kind of a ‘around the campfire’ idea. It’s a really wonderful kind of folk music that feels earthy and from that place.

CT: Is there anything else that you want to share about set or costume design?
CS: I hope the audience takes away from the show the beautiful and unconventional quality of the show. It’s a Broadway musical and has all those elements that people want but it also has really great storytelling and much more of a magical transformative quality than a lot of the musicals that I’ve done in the past at the Citadel. I hope people, when they’re leaving, feel that we have taken them to Ireland for a short time.

Once runs September 22 to October 14, 2018 in the Shoctor Theatre. For more information or to purchase tickets, call the Box Office at 780.425.1820 or click here.