ArtsAlive.ca – The Secret Life of Costumes
Mark Negin

Mark Negin

Mark Negin was born in London where he began his studies in Theatre Design before moving to Winnipeg with his parents in 1951.

In Winnipeg he joined up with John Hirsch and Tom Hendry to help found the Muddiwater Puppet Theatre, then the only local professional theatre company besides The Winnipeg Ballet (later The Royal). He also designed for the amateur Winnipeg Little Theatre later to become The Manitoba Theatre Centre. In 1955, he joined the Props Department of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival whilst also designing at The Grand in London, Ontario and at Brae Manor Summer Stock, Knowlton, Quebec. In 1958, he won a Guthrie award to study in Paris at L’école d’apprentissage d’art dramatique and later worked as a Model Room Boy (assistant to visiting designers) at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

In 1960 Mark returned to the Stratford Festival Prop Department and started designing there. In 1961 when the newly formed bilingual National Theatre School opened in Montreal Mark joined Robert Prévost in establishing the School’s Design Section. Mark subsequently taught across Canada; he also designed for English and French language theatres and for the musical theatre of Ballet and Opera.

After 1972 Mark worked in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In Winnipeg he designed John Hirsch’s much acclaimed The Dybbuk for its North American tour and in London Midsummer Night’s Dream and Othello at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.

He has designed for most of the major regional theatres in the United Kingdom including costumes for Scottish Opera’s Fiddler on the Roof and in London for You Never Can Tell for the 1978 reopening of the Lyric Hammersmith by H.M. The Queen.

In 1982 his designs for Handel’s Rinaldo with Marilyn Horne and Samuel Ramey, were seen at The National Arts Centre in Ottawa before playing, in 1984, at The Metropolitan Opera House, New York, as Canada’s gift to the Met in its centennial year.

Mark’s teaching career has been extensive: he has taught stage design in Canada, the United States and in the United Kingdom.

For his work in helping establish the Design Section of the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal and his work in the early days of the Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg, he is the recipient of Canada’s Centennial Medal for services to the Arts.

Mark lives in Ramsgate, on the English Channel, and is busy painting wall panels for private houses as well as for public spaces such as Pub windows and the Royal Coat of Arms for the local parish church. In his old age, Mark illustrates and illuminates texts on paper and parchment using gilded gesso. His illustrations of the Hebrew text of The Scroll of The Book of Esther, The Megillat Esther, have been seen, in London, as part of the British Library’s exhibition SACRED, an exhibition of illuminated manuscripts of the three monotheistic religions.