SKAM’s fan-favourite show has done three international tours, and looks forward to returning to tour in the future!


Following training from professional SKAM artists, the kids circulate among the audience and select  lucky, brave patrons (among those wearing “I’m In” stickers – the less brave get chickens) to be taken inside the Fashion Machine. Then the action begins.

After an interview with the subjects and a brainstorming session, the young designers retreat to their open workshop space and begin redesigning the volunteers’ outfits. The audience circles the perimeter and watches the children at work while a photographer captures up-close images of the budding artists that are broadcast on a giant screen in an ever-expanding slideshow loop. The audience meets the young artists through videos they shot during the training sessions. After 50 minutes at the hands of the kids’ sewing machines, scissors, buttons, ribbons, fabric, needles and thread, the seven audience members don their remade outfits and showcase their new looks in a fashion show with commentary by the kids.

Fashion Machine is an opportunity to help foster the creativity of the next generation of artists; a new, exciting breed of performance art; and a whole lot of fun.

A group of preteens smiling and posing in fun outfits.

Praise for Fashion Machine

“It was like nothing I’d experienced in 25 years of reviewing theatre for radio, TV and print. That made it typical Theatre SKAM stuff, gently pushing boundaries and letting audiences in on something they just wouldn’t get anywhere else:  atmospheric, engaging and modestly edgy.

This is the kind of show that will be talked about in any community it plays.”

David Lennam

CBC Radio

“I can truly state I was dramatically changed by the experience (both in hair style and fashion choice), as well as emotionally engaged. And as
the father of a 10-year-old who participated in Fashion Machine, I can further attest to the essential role of Theatre SKAM’s staff as active facilitators, and that they are integral to the success of these performances.

Don’t be fooled by their
name: Theatre SKAM is the real deal.”

John Threlfall

Freelance Arts Reviewer

“Thank you SKAM, once again, for the smiles and the education you gave Gabriela and Talitha. They ‘are in’ for MORE of what you can offer them in the
future… AND what a great success it was!!! I think you all do an amazing job.
Last night was a hit… We’ll see you again!!!”

Kyrie Bond

for Gabriela Martinez and Talitha Tarr


Production History

Phase one. 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. 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.

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

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

May 2016. Our widely acclaimed project Fashion Machine completed a tour of the UK. We visited Mayfest Bristol, England) and Chapter (Cardiff, Wales).

April 2016. And most recently… Fashion Machine visited one of our favourite local schools, Ecole George Jay Elementary where a group of students took 5 lucky audience members on a fashion journey.

Touring Information for Presenters

Fashion Machine is:
  • Five artists on tour
  • Artists need to be in your town for 7 to 10 days
  • We have ongoing support from Canada Council with travel assistance
Presenter provides:
  • Artist fee, accommodation, per diems (We can be accommodated in a house with five bedrooms)
  • Recruitment of the young participants the presenter is interested in targeting
  • Venue, tables, chairs
SKAM provides:
  • An extraordinary arts experience for children and their families in your community
  • A strong application to funders to cover travel costs
  • Honoraria for the participants
  • All sewing machines and related show items
  • Baggage fees (Our gear travels with us in suitcases- unless we’re doing Fashion Machine 100, the version with 100 kids)
  • Tools to assist in recruiting and processing artist applicants

Interested in presenting? Matthew would be happy to chat with you through [email protected] or 250-386-7526.

International Tour 2019   |    Canada (May), UK (July & August)

SKAMartists had a blast entertaining audiences in Philadelphia as part of the 2018 IPAY conference. We enticed 83 delegates to see the work. Artistic Producer Matthew Payne also traveled to PUSH Festival in Vancouver the following week, and we’re now engaged in dialogue about potential appearances of the show around the world. Seriously humbling.

Scroll down for photos from Philadelphia.

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

Image of the students from Fashion Machine. There are over twenty kids sitting together and smiling.
Image of a girl standing at a mannequin pinning at design for Fashion Machine.
Image is of two fashion machine students working on a design.

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

Image of a girl sitting at a sewing machine working on her design.