Robert Gardiner


Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters


Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Lighting design for Timothy Findley's The Wars adapted by Dennis Garnhum (2020)

Timothy Findley’s The Wars, adapted by Dennis Garnhum, was presented at the 400 seat Frederic Wood Theatre. The production opened on the 7th of November 2019 and closed on the 23rd of November 2019. The Wars was directed by Lois Anderson. Set Design was by MFA student Cecilia Vadala, Costume Design was by BFA student Erica Sterry, Sound Design was by BFA Student Zachary Levis, Stage Management was by BFA Student Emily Chen, and Assistant Stage Management was by BFA Students Hannah Abbott and Sherry Yang. This thesis is my formal report of my Lighting Design and Design Process for this production.The structure of this thesis follows that of the production. It begins in the pre-production and research phase of the project, which included meetings with the director and design team to establish the vision for the project. It then moves into the design phase, followed by the implementation of the project in the space. The thesis concludes with a retrospective view of the production and my reflections on the effectiveness of the production as a whole.

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The design of trauma and the shadows that remain: lighting design for Judith Thompson's Lion in the Streets (2019)

No abstract available.

Signal to noise : a discussion on the value of interactive technology in lighting design for performing arts (2018)

The goal of this thesis project was to investigate (within the confines of current technological limitations) some of the advantages and disadvantages of interactive technology in lighting for performing arts and compare it to traditional cue-based systems. To accomplish this task, the author designed, implemented, and observed interactive lighting for two contemporary dance shows. The first show, with the working title Signal to Noise, was devised with choreographers Arash Khakpour and Kelly McInnes to test various interactive technologies specifically for this thesis project. It was presented in various forms between February and April of 2013. The second show, Karoshi by Shay Kuebler, premiered at the Scotiabank Dance Centre in Vancouver, B.C. Canada on December 6th, 2012 and subsequently toured around British Columbia. The results were positive but limited. There is notable satisfaction for both the performers and the audience when there is a meaningful correlation between the action on stage and the visual and auditory environment in which it occurs. Automating that correlation using interactive technology can simplify the process for the performers on stage and the artists who create the environment. On the other hand, the complexities of programming computer-controlled interactivity can limit its usefulness. As software improves, interactive technologies will become a more valuable tool for the performing arts.

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Lighting design for Christopher Marlowe's "Edward II". Set and Projection Design for Caryl Churchill's "Love and Information" (2017)

Edward II by Christopher Marlowe, originally written in 1593, was presented at the 250 Seat The Chan Centre for Performing Arts, Telus Studio Theatre at the University of British Columbia in Fall 2016. It ran from September 29th to October 15th and was directed by Guest Artist Mary Vingoe. With set Design by Robert Gardiner, costume design by Kiara Lawson and sound design by Edward Dawson. Edward II was the first production of the UBC Theatre and Film Department’s 2016/2017 season. This thesis report documents my lighting design and design process for this production.Love and Information by Caryl Churchill, originally written in 2012, was presented at the 400 seat Frederic Wood Theatre at the University of British Columbia in Spring 2017. It ran from Jan 19th to February 4th and was directed by MFA candidate Lauren Taylor. Lighting and Projection Design was by Stefan Zubovic, costume design was by Alaia Hamer, and sound design was by Edward Dawson. This thesis report documents my set and partial projection design and design process for the production.

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Hiding in plain sight : lighting and projection design for Peter Chu's Smile Masking (2016)

Smile Masking and Face Her is a new solo suite by ‘Chuthis.’, the company of dancer and choreographer Peter Chu. This document will examine the methodologies and influences behind the design and integration of lighting and projection within the second half of this program, Smile Masking. This show presents a new approach to the use of infrared cameras to produce live generating imagery. Smile Masking was Choreographed by Peter Chu and performed by Peter Chu and Jenni Berthelot. The design team included Djeff Houle (Sound Design and Composition), Linda Chow (Costume Design), and myself (Lighting and Projection Design). Additonal music by Fred Hamm, Dave Bennett, Bert Lown, Chauncey Grey, Jerry Jeff Walker, Ern Westmore, and Ólafur Arnalds.

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Set design for Mary Zimmerman's "The Arabian Nights" (2016)

The Arabian Nights by Mary Zimmerman, originally written in 1991, was presented at the 400-seat Frederic Wood Theatre at the University of British Columbia in Spring 2016. It ran from March 17 to April 2 and was directed by Evan Frayne. Lighting design was by Sophie Yufei Tang and costume design by Nicole Bairstow. The Arabian Nights was the last production of the UBC Theatre and Film Department’s 2015/2016 season. This thesis report documents the set design process for this production from conceptual to realized design and analyses the relationship between scenery movement and storytelling.

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The Bacchae 2.1 Set Design (2015)

No abstract available.

Dancing at lughnasa : the memory flowing with the lighting (2013)

The purpose of this thesis is to document and describe the design process and final lighting design for the University of British Columbia (UBC) production of Dancing at Lughnasa. This play was written by Brian Friel. The production opened November 15th, 2012 in the Frederic Wood Theatre and ran until December 1st, 2012 as part of the Theatre at UBC 2012-2013 season. The show was directed by John Cooper and stage managed by Cat Robinson. The creative team included Carolyn Rapanos (Set and Properties), Andrew Tugwell (Sound) and Stephanie Kong (Costume). The Lighting Design was facilitated by Clayton Brown and Zickey Zhao (Assistant Lighting), and UBC undergraduate theatre students. The thesis begins with an introduction of the play. I then examine the progress of the lighting design, describing technically and conceptually how I developed a theme, a concept, and a plan. Finally, I summarize my own experience of the production. Images and photos of the design are included to support the explanations.

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Movement in the round : scenography for Eugène Ionesco’s Rhinoceros (2013)

Eugène Ionesco’s Rhinoceros was presented as part of UBC Theatre’s 2012/2013 season, running January 24 to February 9, 2013. It was directed by Chelsea Haberlin with costumes by Christina Dao and sound design by Wonkyoon Han. This report documents the set and lighting, designed by Matthew Norman, discussing the advantages and challenges of performing the play in the round rather than in a proscenium as specified in the stage directions.

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Scenography : set and lighting design for Macbeth (2013)

Macbeth by William Shakespeare, adapted by Patrick New, was presented as a part of the 2011/2012 Theatre at UBC season at the Frederic Wood Theatre in March 2012. The show was directed by Patrick New and stage managed by Belle Cheung. The design team included Vanessa Imeson (Costume Designer) and Hayley Peterson (Sound Designer) along with myself (Lighting and Set Designer). This report examines the methodology and design for the integration of both set and lighting design in a scenographic manner, and also examines the collaborative relationship between designer and director.

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“I want to be a machine” : how costume design directs and challenges the human in the machine, Hamlet (Ophelia) machine (2013)

This report analyzes the principles behind my thesis production of Hamletmachine (Heiner Mueller, 1977) at the University of British Columbia in April 2013, explains the concepts underlying the design and production, documents the stages of development towards production, and describes the challenges and the final results. Hamletmachine was work-shopped over a period of two school terms in 2012/13. The production intended as an exploration of a directorial/design/dramaturgical model in which costume design does not simply fulfill its traditional function of supporting theme, characterization and narrative but rather plays the leading role in determining and shaping these aspects of the theatrical event through the very materiality of, and physical restrictions inherent in, the costumes themselves.My concepts are grounded in the theories and practical work of Bauhaus artist and theatre designer Oskar Schlemmer from the historical European avant-garde, as well as the East German playwright, author, dramaturge and poet Heiner Mueller.At the core of this project was the idea of “Man as Machine”. In the anticipation of a post-apocalyptic age, humans are becoming increasingly machine-like, as evident by the development of the cyborg. For my design and production, this awareness resulted in the application of abstract and geometric design principles as well as LED technologies embedded in the costumes. In addition, my design and production were based on the themes addressed in Hamletmachine, specifically Heiner Mueller’s concerns with the mechanisms of history and myth-making grounded in the “Age of Reason”. I was interested in Mueller’s redefinition of Ophelia as a revolutionary figure and how the costume can reflect this rethinking of the female role in society, politics and the arts.The success of the workshops attests to the costumes affect on the performers’ bodies, together with the movements that were inherent in their shape and function. The conclusion also addresses the challenges of the production, as they materialized in the costumes as well as in the process of the production. In the end the costumes not only reflected the play and its structure, but also shaped the production and projected a new understanding of the theatrical script.

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Graphic narrative and existential philosophy : the scenic design for "The Trial of Judith K." (2012)

“The Trial of Judith K.,” by Sally Clark was held in the Frederic Wood Theatre at the University of British Columbia (UBC) from September 29th through October 8th, 2011 and was the first production of the 2011/2012 theatre season. The production team was as follows: Director, Tom Scholte; Scenic Designer, myself, Alexander L. Carr; Lighting Designer, Mandi Lau; Costume Designer, Allison Green; Sound Designer, Emily Griffiths; and Properties Designer, Lynn Burton. The Technical Director for this production was James Ferguson and the Production Manager was Jay Henrickson.I approached the design inspired by the philosophy of Jean Paul Sartre. Other major influences on this project were the literary art form the graphic narrative and cartoon cell animation. A major focus in my study of scenic design is how to interpret structural and thematic concepts of the graphic narrative and cartoon animation in three-dimensional space for use on the stage. Three of the concepts I explored in this design were “page turning” as one would turn the pages of a book, “frames,” or the pictorial images found in a graphic narrative, and “the gutter,” or the physical and psychological space between frames in a graphic narrative. Graphic narrative and cartoon animation were also direct influences on the paint scheme chosen for the set.

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A Dybbuk: Between Two Worlds (2010)

No abstract available.


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