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Eagan, Michael

Michael Eagan
Michael Eagan

One of Canada's top designers, Michael Eagan was born in 1940 in St. Stephen, New Brunswick. He studied Liberal Arts at the University of New Brunswick, where he began designing for the UNB Drama Society without any previous experience, and was inspired to pursue a career in the theatre. In 1966, he graduated from the National Theatre School of Canada, where he subsequently became Director of the Production Design and Technical Arts from 1987 to 1998, inspiring and mentoring many students of design.

Michael Eagan designed sets and costumes for many of the major English and French theatres, dance and opera companies in Canada, including the Stratford Festival, the Shaw Festival, Canadian Stage, Theatre Calgary, Theatre Lac-Brome, and Theatre Plus.

For the National Arts Centre, he designed for both the English and French theatres: Stindberg's The Dream Play (set and costumes, 1977) in English and Le Songe (décor and costumes, 1977) in French, as well as Woyzeck in both English and French (decor, 1976); both plays went to the Edinburgh Festival. Woyzeck also toured France, Belgium and Switzerland. His many designs for the NAC also included: De la manipulation de Dieux (décor, costume and Lighting, 1975); Sqrieux-de-Deux (1977); Private Lives (set, 1977); Changement a vue (set and costume, 1980); Oedipe Roi (costumes, 1982); As Is (set, 1986); The Stone Angel (set, 1994); Sleeping Beauty (set and properties, 2003); Les Contes d’Hoffman (set, 2005).

For the Centaur Theatre, he designed for productions of Little Shop of Horrors (1988), the James W. Nichol adaptation of Margaret Laurence's Stone Angel (1995), God of Carnage (2011), and Clybourne Park (2017); for the Banff Centre for the Arts a production of The Rake's Progress; for Rainbow Stage Guys and Dolls; and for Segal Centre for Performing Arts a production of Guys and Dolls (2012).

For Marion André's Theatre Plus, he worked with the politically engaged Belfast director, Pam Brighton on twenty projects while she was in Toronto, including an abridged version of Shakespeare's trilogy, Henry VI in a Grand Guignol style.

Michael Eagan also designed costumes for Canadian Fantasy Circus, which performed in Japan; for productions on Broadway; for the Julliard School; and for film and television.

His designs were thoroughly researched for era and context, and he had excellent taste.

Michael Eagan died on August 5, 2022 at the age of 82.

Profile by Gaetan Charlebois. Updated by Anne Nothof. Additional information by Brian Dooley, Rae Ackerman, and Sara Martini, Assistant Archivist, Archives, Visual Arts and Exhibitions, National Arts Centre.

Last updated 2022-10-03