Fashion Machine


Theatre SKAM and The Makehouse recently worked with local kids across the Capital Regional District in a dissemination tour that brought Fashion Machine to schools across the Capital Regional District! We hosted 2 shows at the Royal BC Museum on March 28th & 29th before setting out on the Spring 2015 International Tour at Fusebox Festival in Austin, Texas!

Theatre SKAM was inspired by their work with Toronto’s internationally sought after Mammalian Diving Reflex to create Fashion Machine. In this piece, children get the chance to take select attendees’ outfits and remake them into new works of fashion art. The show has had an extensive development process, with years of camps, workshops, previews, and finally, a World Premiere!

Phase one of the project took place March 29, 2012 to May 3, 2012, in collaboration with the Victoria Intercultural Association: two Theatre SKAM instructors and two ICA staff conducted 6 weekly 2-hour drama classes with children of ICA clients. Within the classes, these new-to-Canada kids aged 6-12 were introduced to the idea of the project through fun drama games that imagined elements of Fashion Machine.

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Phase two took place August 13-17, 2012. After meeting the kids of the ICA, SKAM and ICA took the project to the next step. Three Theatre SKAMartists and the ICA staff conducted a one-week summer camp for children ages 10 to 13. These junior kampers met designers, tailors, and seamstresses, toured local clothing makers’ facilities, and learned the rules of fashion and style. Then they broke some of those rules as they remade the outfits of 5 adults brave enough to offer up their favourite clothing.

The camp featured guest artists and educators- Dr. Jennifer Wise, Erin Macklem, Everett Wong, April Parchoma, Trish Tacoma, Sandra McLellan, and Mark Dusseault- working with children drawn from SKAM’s previous work with ICA clients. With field trips to Smoking Lily, the Pacific Opera Costume shop, and the Belfry, along with a range of local clothiers presenting workshops or short lectures, this was a fun and educational experience for young artists-in-training. Plus we went for ice cream.

Phase three saw the rehearsal, installation and presentation of a preview of Fashion Machine with ICA children and families! Many thanks to Jenny Ambrose from The Makehouse. Phase three was presented April 28, 2013 at Open Space (Gallery).

Phase four was the World Premiere of the show, from June 6-8 2014. It took place at the Pacific Opera Victoria’s Opera Shop.


(Poster by Rayola Design; Photomontage by Betty-Ann Lampman.)

 If you are inspired by the Fashion Machine project and would like to find out more about Fashion Machine, please contact Jenny Ambrose [] or Matthew Payne [].

” To everyone at Skam – producers, administrators, interns – and everyone at The Makehouse, thank you so much. You created an interactive show where kids refashioned people’s outfits in a mere 55 minutes. You shared so many skills with my daughter. She learned the obvious – some sewing – and that’s a fantastic life skill right there. But her learning went deeper than that. She learned some critical thinking through discussions around the politics of fashion. She learned perspective through the lesson on the history of fashion. She learned teamwork and tolerance through having to consult with her team and share a sewing machine. She learned showmanship and theatre craft by having to present her creation, answer questions in front of the audience, and by seeing the nuts and bolts of how a show is created. Her learning was both broad and deep, and as a family we are thrilled that she was able to be part of this experience.” EM, PM & JM