I went to the new Cirque de Soleil production on Saturday. Superb sets, props and costumes.
I had heard good and bad about it and all comments had their place. The visual aspect was as good as expected but unless you knew the story beforehand some parts were a little difficult to follow. The program was not only a great help in that regard but was also full of all sorts of interesting facts regarding backstage. It explains set design, lighting, performance and acrobatic equipment, costumes, make-up, music and sound as well as detailing the history of the circus. It’s one of the best catalogues I own.
I was particularly thrilled to see some set design renderings showing the creation of the organic space and also the acrobatic equipment set-up.
This is the type of thing I’m currently working at for my main OCA project.
Of course, being a textiles person I couldn’t go past the costumes, which were nothing short of spectacular. The show is based on a day in the life of insects and explores a colourful ecosystem teeming with life, where insects work, eat, crawl, flutter, play, fight and look for love. Creatures depicted include a ladybird (ladybug in Australia), dragonfly, firefly, spiders, fleas, ants, butterflies, scarabs, crickets, cockroaches and a couple of fantasy creatures.
According to the catalogue, the different materials used to produce these outfits include polyester, lycra, other stretchy fabrics, crystalette, transparent fabrics, meshes and expanded foam. With the use of permanent pleating, dyeing methods and the application of different finishes a third dimension was created. The result is a sort of organic origami of materials giving a sense of volume to muscles and shells.
The acrobatic feats were breathtaking and the whole event was enhanced by a lighting system that evoked an ant hill, a forest or a cave with the effect of depth which had the audience looking this way and that. There wasn’t a section of stage overlooked, something was happening everywhere.
It truly was a feast for the eyes.
The only thing which marred the occasion was when the focus shifted to the audience and people were asked to get up and, well, basically make fools of themselves in front of the other couple of thousand people – all of whom breathed a sigh of relief they hadn’t been targeted. Why do shows do this? I’d far rather have it shortened by 15 minutes and skip this type of thing. I go to see the professionals not some poor devil getting dragged to their feet and being forced into some foolish acting. Come on Cirque du Soleil, surely you can do better than that.
Resources: All photos taken from the catalogue. Permission obtained from officials at the event.