Robert Thomson

Associate Professor, Lighting Design

Robert Thomson is widely recognized as one of Canada’s most versatile and active theater, opera and dance lighting designers. His acclaimed designs are noted for their precision, visual poetry, psychological insight and dramaturgical impact.


Over the past 35 years his distinguished design career has taken him on numerous international design assignments in Stuttgart, Geneva, Hong Kong, Edinburgh and Melbourne. In the United States, his designs have been featured at Lincoln Center Theater, Goodman Theatre, Hartford Stage, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Seattle Opera, American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet and Miami Ballet.

Thomson’s career includes a vast experience in design for repertory companies. He served as Resident Lighting Designer for The National Ballet of Canada for twelve seasons. His numerous company projects include Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, Spring Awakening, The Taming of the Shrew, and Manon. He has designed for Canada’s renowned repertory theater, the Shaw Festival for twenty-four seasons. His credits include a 10-year term as Head of Lighting Design, Picnic, St. Joan, Man and Superman, Pygmalion, Cavalcade and Cyrano de Bergerac.

He recently completed his thirteenth consecutive season designing for Canada’s prestigious Stratford Festival, North America’s largest repertory company. His numerous Stratford collaborators include directors Jonathan Miller, Des McAnuff, Robert Falls, Jennifer Tarver, Peter Hinton, Christopher Newton, and current Artistic Director: Antoni Cimolino. His 29 Stratford Festival design assignments include Beaux Stratagem, King Lear, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing, Cymbeline, Caesar and Cleopatra, Dangerous Liaisons, The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet and Into the Woods.

He studied theater design at Ryerson University in Toronto and The Studio and Forum of Stage Design in New York City. He began his professional career in the late 70’s at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto working extensively with founding Artistic Director, Bill Glassco. They collaborated on a large range of new scripts that now represent much of the early canon of Canadian plays. Since then he has worked with a diverse range of companies all across Canada including the National Arts Centre, Canadian Stage, Canadian Opera Company, Citadel Theatre, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Pacific Opera Victoria, Charlottetown Festival, Vancouver Playhouse, Theatre Calgary, L’Opéra de Montréal, Opera de Québec, and Montreal’s Centaur Theatre and Segal Centre.

Thomson has received numerous awards including Canada’s largest theater prize: the prestigious Elinore & Lou Siminovitch Prize In Theatre; a Sterling Award for Edmonton Opera’s mounting of Robert Lepage’s internationally acclaimed first opera Bluebeard’s Castle and Erwartung; and four of Canada’s coveted Dora Mavor Moore Awards.

He has taught at the National Theatre School in Montréal; Ryerson University and York University both in Toronto, and Sheridan College in Oakville Ontario. Thomson is a member of the Associated Designers of Canada and L’Association des professionnels des arts de la scène du Québec.