William Chesney

Professor Emeritus
William Chesney.

Bill Chesney has worked in the professional theatre as a set and costume designer and scenic artist for more than thirty years. His work includes set and costume designs for Theatre & Co. in Kitchener, Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton, Lighthouse Theatre Festival in Port Dover, Victoria Playhouse Petrolia, Carousel Players on tour, as well as productions for the Drayton Theatre Festival, the Centaur Theatre and Just for Laughs Theatre in Montreal, and 20+ year creative association with the Manitoba Theatre for Young People (MTYP) in Winnipeg.

A highlight of his career is Comet in Moominland, based on the children's classic by renowned author/illustrator Tove Jansson. Bill conceived and initiated this unique table-top environmental puppet show in conjunction with Graham Whitehead and Leslee Silverman at MTYP in 1986. It has since toured all over Canada, the United States and internationally. In June 2007, it won a Dora Mavor Moore (DORA) award as the best Theatre for Young Audiences production, and it played on Broadway at the New Victory Theatre in the 2007-2008 season.

A master scenic artist, Bill was the Head Scenic Painter for the Pantages Theatre and touring Canadian productions of The Phantom of the Opera, repainted the interior scenic murals in the restored Capitol Theatre in Port Hope, ON, and designed and executed an interior mural entitled Change is Gradual for the Guelph Community Health Centre.

More recently, Bill was a member of the creative team for Digital Oral Histories for Reconciliation, developing a VR teaching experience for high school students in Nova Scotia, based on the verbatim recollections of former residents of the Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children. He provided spatial concept and physical asset designs and scale models which helped frame their stories of abuse and resilience.

Bill taught courses in technical production, set design, costume design, costume history and scenic painting, and was involved in the design and production of many department productions. He was Associate Dean of Arts – Undergraduate Students from 2007 – 2019, and retired from UW in 2020. He lives in Guelph with his wife Jane Macleod and continues to work as a free-lance artist/ theatre designer.