Costume and set designer Scott Penner takes audiences to enchanted places with his bold, whimsical and transporting creations. Having worked in London, Penner now calls Toronto home.
Here he talks about finding inspiration from Alexander McQueen, his favorite about-Broadway podcast and more.
What design project are you working on right now? Can you briefly describe your creative process for this show?
I’m currently working on the Set and Costume design for a production of “The Snow Queen.” It’s a fairy tale so it really allows me to explore creating a completely imaginary world. I’m in the stage of collecting inspiration images and talking to the director about how we both envision the story being told. We’ve both been really inspired by a lot of stuff off the runway (particularly Gareth Pugh, Manish Arora, Alexander McQueen and Toronto based Vanika). We’ve also been pulling a little inspiration from music videos like Of Monsters and Men’s “King and Lionheart” and Marina and the Diamonds “I’m a Ruin”. They are both visually stunning to watch.
Are there any albums or podcasts you like to listen to as you design?
I listen to whatever music happens to be at the top of my playlists at that time. Right now it’s the BØRNS ep and the newest Marina and the Diamonds record Froot. I’ve also recently started listening to the In One podcasts, which feature interviews with designers working on Broadway; they’re definitely worth a listen. I can always put on any David Sedaris Audiobook and work for hours.
Can you share one artist or creative person that you professionally look up to or take inspiration from?
I spent a few years assisting Michael Levine in his studio – building models and other things. He’s pretty brilliant and a really fun guy to work for and learn from. I don’t think I ever told him this, but when I was in high school I went to see a production he designed for the COC and it totally changed my life – I really knew theatre design was something I wanted to pursue after that.
Can you describe your dream day in Toronto?
Oh jeeez, this is tough. But, I think it would start with a coffee from The Common and a walk around the west end with my dog snapping photos, maybe perch in Trinity Bellwoods for a while. The evening would most likely start with a drink or two at Northwood, then head downtown to the Four Seasons Centre for Performing Arts to see an Opera at the COC followed by an evening walk back to the west end of the city. I’d end the night with an ice-cream sandwich from Home Baking Co. on Bloor. Perfect.