Olivia Wheeler is a mixed-race, Chinese Canadian performance designer, musician and multidisciplinary artist. 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. Her main practice is in sound design and composition, and outside of that she does playwriting, puppetry (build, design and performance), performance design and research. She has worked with companies across the country mainly as a sound designer and composer, including the Stratford Festival, the Shaw Festival, Why Not, Tarragon Theatre, Cahoots Theatre, Alberta Theatre Projects, Nightwood Theatre, and Theatre SKAM.
Photo by Drew Lyall
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 Between a Wok and a Hot Pot (Cahoots Theatre), The Director's Workshop Presentation (Stratford Festival), 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 work in set and production designs includes the production design for The Fates and 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 writing and puppetry. The writing and early creation for her play Hey Girl, which uses puppetry to tell the story of her grandmother's experience through the Second-Sino Japanese War, has been supported by the conVERGE micro-residency (2021) and the Canada Council for the Arts. Her TYA shadow-puppet show Quest for the Moon was first workshopped in 2020 and will be touring to schools in BC in the Fall 2023 with Theatre SKAM.