#56 Susan Benson / by Michael Kruse

Designer Susan Benson

Designer Susan Benson

Susan Benson was born in Kent, England, trained as a fine artist but as a member of a theatre family moved quickly in to theatre design. I met with Susan in Victoria in December of 2018 and she recounted her early life and training in England and her development of a robust training environment at the Stratford Festival, where she was the head of design for many years. Susan defends the idea of a theatre designer as an artist and the need of support of traditional theatre spaces to insure we train a future generation of theatre artists. You can follow along visually by finding a copy of Patricia Flood’s new book about Susan’s design career here. You can also find visual references online from Susan’s work here.

To support us on Patreon, click here.


Christopher Timothy - Road Program on Benson on the Knowledge network - Guildhall School of Music and Drama

LAMDA London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts or RADA Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Sunday Times Drama Festival , Harold Hobson

John Neville

Tanya Moiseiwitsch

Royal Shakespeare Company

National Diploma of Design in Britain


Theatre Museum Canada, Alice Through the Looking Glass by Susan Benson

The Ecstasy of Rita Joe

Robin Phillips

The Krannert Centre for the Performing Arts

Peter Franklin White

John Burrell

Michael Whitfield

Gil Wechsler

Manotti’s The Medium 1974 at the Stratford Festival starring Maureen Forrester, directed by Michael Bawtree

The Summoning of Everyman, by Charles Wilson in 1974 at Stratford Festival - search for the title

Twelfth Night, Stratford Festival, 1975 directed by David Jones

Tyrone Guthrie and Michael Langham

Maggie Smith in As You Like It at the Stratford Festival

John Hirsch

David William

John Neville

Richard Monette

Garth Drabinsky and Live Entertainment

Shaw Festival

The Mikado at the Stratford Festival 1982 a great archival video

Desmond Heeley

The Duchess of Malfy at the Stratford Festival NYT review from 1971

The Sarducci’s in the Scene Shop at stratford festival

Lillian Baylis of The Old Vic

Caberet at the Stratford Festival 1987

As You Like It by the National Theatre of Britain 2016

The Wooden “O” of the original Globe Theatre

Pumpkin Breeches

Two Planks and a Passion - its origins in theatre language

Robin Dunn designer for La Forza del Destino directed by John Copley

Madam Butterfly at the Canadian Opera Company designed by Susan Benson

The Golden Ass by by Randolph Peters with libretto by Roberston Davies

Taming of the Shrew at the Birmingham Royal Ballet

Maureen Forester in Iolanthe at The Stratford Festival

Midsummer’s Night Dream directed by Robin Phillips at The Stratford Festival

Cynthia MacLennan, cutter at Stratford Festival

Susan’s Portrait work is also published in a book called Portrait of an Island

Karen Rodd

Patricia Flood

Scott McKowen