Produced by Y2D Productions in association with Chamäleon Productions
"An eye-teasing, grin-inducing, deeply impressive work of sustained absurdist magic."
Time Out New York
"Since my early days, when watching Fred Astaire dancing on the ceiling in The Royal Wedding, I was fascinated by gravity-defying optical trickeries."
Tobias Wegner, co-creator of LEO
Arts Bank at The University of the Arts
601 South Broad Street (at South Street) (map)
$29 / Members save 30%
Student + 25-and-under tickets $20
Direction Daniel Brière
Creative Producer Greg Parks
Original Idea by Tobias Wegner
Choreography Juan Kruz Diaz de Garaio Esnaola
Animation Ingo Panke
Video Design Heiko Kalmbach
Set and Lighting Flavia Hevia
Performed by William Bonnet
Photos: Andy Phillipson
What happens when the laws of gravity suddenly change?
An ordinary man's world becomes unhinged in this gleeful combination of circus and theater arts, a gravity-defying performance of exceptional acrobatic talents and optical illusions. Limitless worlds are created out of confined spaces thanks to ingeniously projected video animations. Pictures drawn in chalk come to life and morph into new scenery and landscapes. The audience wonders what's real and what's projected—and which way is up—as reality becomes delightfully skewed along Leo's highly imaginative journey.
LEO won several major awards at the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. For all ages.
Interview with co-creator Tobias Wegner
FringeArts: What was the inspiration for LEO?
Tobias Wegner: Since my early days, when watching Fred Astaire dancing on the ceiling in [the film] The Royal Wedding, I was fascinated by gravity-defying optical trickeries. Then during my studies of the contemporary circus arts I used to do a lot of trampolining and fell in love with the point mort—the highest point of each jump—where gravity seems to have no power. Since I never managed to stay up there I started to translate the feeling into a different kind of approach and that's where I created first drafts of what later became LEO.
FringeArts: How did this show come into being?
Tobias Wegner: The piece started as one scene in a variety show that had many different new circus acts in it. The idea went over so well we thought we would try to expand the visual idea and develop a story around it. Now, there is quite some processor power behind LEO even though it looks simple and handcrafted—a voluntary decision of the creative team as the show is held in that artisanal spirit. One of the major goals, when the production company decided to bring together a performer with a circus background and a director [Daniel Brière] from the theater world to create this piece together, was to tell a story in an unusual way. Daniel has taken great care to transmit a storyline even though there isn't any real text. But it's a very clear and yet subtle path that Leo wanders along. I have always been looking out for projects in which it's not about showing skills off but where the physical techniques serve as a vehicle to transport a story.
FringeArts: Why do you think Leo has gotten such a good audience response?
Tobias Wegner: I believe every human being has been dreaming about levitation and being able to fly, so it's quite easy to get dragged into Leo's poetical world and share and understand what he is dreaming of and what he experiences.
About performer William Bonnet
William Bonnet (performer) was born in Avignon, France, took his first steps in the circus world with the French company Couleurs Mécaniques. Afterwards, he attended the École de Cirque de Lomme near Lille, where he specialized in aerial acrobatics on the aerial straps. He eventually added various disciplines, such as hand-on-hand acrobatics, hip hop dance, floor acrobatics, and clown performance, to his artistic repertoire at the National Circus School in Montréal, Canada. William's skills were seen at the opening of the 30th Festival Mondial de Cirque de Demain in Paris and Montréal, and with many other companies and directors including Circle of Eleven, Franco Dragone, and 7 fingers.
About the creative team
Daniel Brière (director) is the artistic director of the Montréal based Nouvelle Theatre Experimental, where he has been performing and creating new plays since 2003. As an actor, he has performed in many theatres in Canada and Europe since his graduation from the Conservatoire. On television, he was seen in Caméra Café and the popular family comedy Les Parents. On the big screen, his performances have included parts in Le déclin de l'empire américain, La moitié gauche du frigo, Gaz Bar Blues and C'est pas moi je le jure, presented in several film festivals. Daniel has directed some twenty plays including Bashir Lazhar and La Fin.
Tobias Wegner (original idea/original performer) completed his acrobatic training at the Belgium University of Contemporary Circus Arts (E.S.A.C.) in Brussels. His professional career has taken him to, among other places, Brazil, Spain, and India. He has also performed at the Southbank Centre (London), the Théâtre de la Cité Internationale (Paris), the Schauspiel Frankfurt, and the Staatsoper unter den Linden (Berlin). Tobias won the European competition Jeunes Talents Cirque Europe with the project AIUAIO and his own company of the same name.
Gregg Parks (creative producer) toured the world as an onstage performer and gradually became fascinated with production and its limitless possibilities. Gregg was production/tour manager for the Canadian circus company Les 7 doigts de la main (7 Fingers) engagement at the Chamäleon Theatre in Berlin. Gregg is now the creative producer for Leo, having played a key role in the success of the new circus productions Soap! The Show, myLIFE, and VERSUS.
Flavia Hevia (set and lighting director) is a visual artist and a set and lighting designer for theatre. Her visual art and designs have been seen around the world. Flavia's theatre design work provides the platform for TRACES, Les 7 doigts de la main (The 7 Fingers) and LEO among many others. Flavia recently established Anonimato, an emerging multidisciplinary puppet company.
Heiko Kalmbach (video designer) studied theater in Germany and film at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. His films have screened internationally at Festivals like Berlinale. He is a co-founder of the Berlin and New York-based performance group Naturaleza Humana. His work as a theater director, projection designer and video artist has been presented in Europe, North America and India.
Ingo Panke (animation) studied at the Konrad Wolf Academy for Film & Television in Potsdam-Babelsberg. He has created award-winning animated films, computer game designs and illustrations for leading companies in the motion picture, marketing and video game industries.
Heather MacCrimmon (costume designer) was formerly based in Toronto and now dividing her time between Germany and Canada. She has worked in film, television and theatre, with a focus on costuming contemporary dance.
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By African Drums
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"Raga Bairagi Todi Jod, Jhala"
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"Sous les ponts de Paris"
By Kurt Larsen
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Music by Harold Arlen
Lyrics by Ted Koehler (1932)
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II Allegretto (extract) by Beethoven
Performed by Philharmonia Orchestra
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