If the content you are seeing is presented as unstyled HTML your browser is an older version that cannot support cascading style sheets. If you wish to upgrade your browser you may download Mozilla or Internet Explorer for Windows.

Barbeau, François

CTE photo
François Barbeau

Quebec-based costume designer/director, born in 1935, died 2016, who designed over 700 productions for theatre, dance, opera, circus, film and television during his fifty-year career. His work was exquisite. He had an historian's eye for detail and an artist's eye for colour.

François Barbeau studied drawing, design and cutting in Montreal at Sir George Williams University (now Concordia), and in France, Italy and England. He worked with Paul Buissonneau and his Roulotte before launching a professional career. He was a teacher at the National Theatre School of Canada, and also taught at the Université de Québec à Montréal. He was an in-house costume designer for the Théâtre du Rideau Vert, and designed virtually every costume at the company since 1962.

Barbeau also designed for the Nouvelle Compagnie Théâtrale / Théâtre Denise-Pelletier, Espace Go, Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, Juste Pour Rire and for film and ballet across Canada and abroad (notably at the Comédie-Française in Paris). He designed the Cirque du Soleil show, Dralion (April, 1999), and the Compagnie Jean-Duceppe revival production of La mort d'un commis voyageur (April, 1999). For Robert Lepage, he designed costumes for La Célestine (2005) and A Rake's Progress (2007).

François Barbeau also directed, including La Déscente d'Orphée/Orpheus Descending (Compagnie Jean-Duceppe), Le Père Noël est une ordure (Théâtre de La Licorne), À propos des Williams (Espace Go) and L'Heureux Stratagème at Rideau Vert (November, 2000).

In 1996 he won a Governor General’s Award and in 1999 was inducted into the Order of Canada. In February, 2000, he was recognized with a special Masque Award for his contribution to theatre.

He has said of designing, "I read, often, the play to be produced but I don't analyse it. I work by instinct. The eras offer me certain tones, colours, the behaviour of the people, their way of life, their way of thinking...The body of the actor playing the role determines the costume as much as the interpretation of the piece by the director."

Profile by Gaetan Charlebois.

Last updated 2020-04-17