Now based in Southern Ontario, New Brunswick native Tristan Tidswell’s theatrical career began during his first year of high school when he was encouraged to work backstage on a production of Rock and Roll Santa. While operating the followspot for that show, and for You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown later that same year, Tristan discovered how much he enjoyed the atmosphere of working backstage. As he progressed through high school, Tristan became the head of his schools technical crew as well as volunteering and working with The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Fredericton, The Theatre New Brunswick Theatre School and The Fredericton Playhouse. Over those four years, Tristan worked in many roles on shows such as Footloose, Brigadoon, Anything Goes, H.M.S. Pinafore, The Music Man, Hello Dolly, Chicago, and A Chorus Line.
By this point, Tristan had decided that a career in live performance was for him. That also meant that it was time to leave home and make the move to Toronto where he enrolled as a Performance Production student at Ryerson University. He was still unsure exactly what area of production he wanted to work in so he tried them all, taking courses in wardrobe, set design, stage carpentry and props, rigging, audio design and production, technical direction, stage management, and of course, lighting. Tristan also honed his skills working on productions of King Lear, The Government Inspector, Mass Exodus:PLATform, and Ryerson Dances 2007, as well as a charity fundraiser for Leap of Faith Toronto at St. James Cathedral. Over this time, the concept of marrying science and art to create theatrical lighting never left and Tristan found that his lighting courses were the ones he was enjoying the most.
During the second semester of his third year, Tristan immersed himself in the world of dance lighting. The Only Human Dance Collective, a University of Toronto student group was in need of a Lighting Designer and Stage Manager for their presentation of In Transit, a role Tristan was only too happy to fill. Following that, Tristan was the Lighting Designer for several short works in the Ryerson University production of Choreographic Works 2008. He then became involved with the University of Toronto Festival Season at Hart House Theatre as the Lighting Designer for Festival of Dance 2008, a three night celebration of dance featuring more than forty works from a variety of genres.
That fall, Tristan was selected to be the Lighting Designer on a repertory presentation of The Three Birds. This would be Tristan’s final major production at Ryerson (he was a guest Lighting Designer on Choreographic Works 2009 the following spring) as before his final year had begun, Tristan had decided to pursue an outreach, working with local Lighting Designers over the course of his final semester. In December of that year, when he was finalizing the details of the outreach, Tristan received a phone call from the Canadian Opera Company informing him that he was the winner of the Wally Russell Lighting Internship and Scholarship. The internship lasted five months, and Tristan had the opportunity to observe and work on five operas, Fidelio, Rusalka, Simon Boccanegra, La Boheme, and A Midsummer Nights Dream. As if this experience wasn’t enough, Tristan was entrusted with the role of Assistant Lighting Designer on La Boheme.
In the period following his graduation (BFA Honours), Tristan has worked with numerous groups as the Lighting Designer on Cinderella (Brampton Lyric Opera), The Frog Prince (Solar Stage Children’s Theatre), Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Gondoliers (Clarkson Music Theatre), and Rigoletto (Opera York). Tristan was also the Technical Supervisor at Ontario Place, overseeing performance duties and general park events as well as maintaining technical systems.
In early 2010, Tristan started his first season at the Stratford Festival working as an Assistant Lighting Designer. His credits include As You Like It, Do Not Go Gentle, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and King of Thieves. Between Stratford seasons, Tristan returned to Toronto as the Assistant Lighting Designer, Moving Light Tracking on Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Following the shows successful run in Toronto he traveled to New York to prepare Priscilla for its Broadway opening in March of 2011. He then returned to Stratford for a second season, adding Jesus Christ Superstar, and The Homecoming to his resume.
Working as the Associate Lighting Designer, Tristan went with the Stratford production of Jesus Christ Superstar to the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, California in November 2011. He then returned to Stratford to assist on 42nd Street and Henry V. In the fall of 2012 Tristan worked in the corporate world, lighting events for clients such as Google and Norton Rose. Tristan ended the year by assisting on the North American Tour of The Wizard of Oz.
2013 through 2015 saw Tristan working across the country both as a designer and an assistant on theatre and corporate events. Design work took him to The University of Windsor, The Globe Theatre in Regina, Sudbury Theatre Centre, and Theatre New Brunswick. He continued his assistant work with the Stratford Festival, as well as at Theatre Aquarius and Drayton Entertainment. In the corporate world, Tristan worked on many events for The Production Agency in Toronto.
The fall of 2015 saw Tristan shift most of his focus to the corporate world by taking a full time position with Bespoke Audio Visual as Lighting and Technical Design Coordinator. He quickly moved from that position into a role as Production Manager and then in March 2017 he was promoted to Director of Production. Tristan oversees a team of 10 Production Managers working out of Toronto to execute events across Canada and internationally. He still takes time for lighting design work however and regularly designs for many of Bespoke’s clients as well as the occasional theatre job.
When he’s not at work, Tristan enjoys running, cycling, rock climbing, canoe camping, and is a snowboard enthusiast. He also practices yoga and loves to spend time in the kitchen working on new edible creations.Contact Tristan Now