Photo by Drew Lyall
Olivia Wheeler is a mixed-race performance designer, musician and multidisciplinary artist of Chinese and European descent. She recently graduated from the University of Victoria with a degree in Theatre and Music in June 2020 and focused on composition, design and technical theatre during her studies
As an emerging artist, her work aims to explore and challenge the definition of performance and the parameters of theatre. Most recently, she has been exploring the visceral emotional stimulus of performance design, particularly through the impact of the environment on the audience and investigating new ways to see the performer. Her research-based immersive installation EVOKE explored how performance design alone can tell a story, transform the atmosphere and environment, and have the equivalent emotional impact on the audience as an actor .
Her work in sound design applies her musical background to create original compositions and arrangements for the theatre. Some of her most notable sound design include It'll Come to Me (Theatre SKAM), Othello (Phoenix Theatre), 7 Stories (Phoenix Theatre), Kansha (Intrepid YOU Show) and Antigones (Maenad's Theatre, MFA Project 2017). Her work in music direction and composition includes Two Gentleman of Verona, Julius Caesar (Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival) and Othello (Phoenix Theatre).
Her most recent work set and production designs includes the production design for Backliners (Theatre SKAM), music and design for The Back Pocket Daughters Present: The Front Lawn Flamingos Concert (STEPS Insiders Artist Project), set design for Testimony of Rain (SATCo), and the conception, design and creation of her immersive installation EVOKE (JCURA Project). Through the pandemic, she has also started her journey into puppetry, so far building hand puppets and shadow puppets.