Lance Cardinal’s creativity always wins out

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Lance Cardinal believes that following one’s passions always pays-off and with a long list of accomplishments, recognition and awards as a performer, sculptor, illustrator and set designer, he is living proof of that philosophy.

Growing up in small town Alberta, Cardinal is a member of the Bigstone Cree Nation which he says continues to be an inspiration in his creative life.  Moving to Edmonton at age 13, Cardinal went on to attend Edmonton’s Victoria School for the Visual and Performing Arts, graduating at the top of his class.  Arriving in Vancouver ten years ago, Cardinal has since established himself in the Vancouver art and theatre community including a 2005 Jessie Award for his set design work in A Christmas Carol for Carousel Theatre.

Currently working as designer for the upcoming Patrick Street Productions presentation of The Light in the Piazza, Lance’s passion for his craft is evident from the moment he starts talking.

“For me the set is the unspoken cast member,” said Cardinal. “It is just as important as the actors on stage.  As the audience arrives for the show, I want the set to have its own solo.  The set shouldn’t just be a background; it needs to be bold, exaggerated, oversize, bigger than life”.  And that is exactly what Cardinal is promising with his design for Piazza.

“When Peter [director Peter Jorgensen] first started talking to me about the set, he talked about it in terms of frames; pictures on the mantel, the idea of family portraits and how memories fade in and out.  Taking Peter’s idea of frames, we’ve created a set full of them: moving, flying, all representing the memories of the central character Clara.”

Taking the frames motif further, Cardinal also talks of broken frames that appear throughout the show.

“There are also frames where things aren’t perfect,” explained Cardinal.  “These frames are broken and missing parts and represent those missing parts of Clara’s memories. The frames are like magical windows into her mind”.

Lance Cardinal's design for the Patrick Street Productions presentation of The Light in the Piazza
Lance Cardinal’s set design for the Patrick Street Productions presentation of The Light in the Piazza.

Called upon to replace the original set designer for The Light in the Piazza, Cardinal says that he started from Jorgensen’s original idea and began researching his design from a colour scheme based on the play’s Tuscan setting.

“I start with colors and images.  I researched piazzas, the stones, how light might play in the location,” he explained.  “And then I start looking at it from the perspective of the actor.  As an actor myself I have a practical perspective that I also bring to my designs”.

But don’t let that practicality fool you.  With a desire to focus on the things that really inspire him, we have no doubt Cardinal’s creativity will always win out.

The Light in the Piazza
Norman and Annette Rothstein Theatre
15 September – 9 October 2011

A stunning exploration of love and the struggle between wisdom and hope tells the story of Clara, a beautiful, surprisingly childish young woman, who is holidaying in Florence with her mother Margaret. While sightseeing she loses her hat in a gust of wind that lands at the feet of a handsome Florentine, Fabrizio. In this brief episode there is a spark and an immediate romance begins. Margaret, extremely protective of her daughter, attempts to keep them apart. Visit for more information.

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