Cirque du Soleil's KÀ TheatreEdit profile
Cirque du Soleil
Las Vegas, Nevada
"This is a response to the rhythmic nature of cathedrals, with their uplifting, vertical spaces." - Mark Fisher
Collaborating with Cirque du Soleil's creative team, architect Mark Fisher designed both the theater and the scenic elements for KÀ, Cirque du Soleil's new show at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the most expensive live show ever built.
The design included the rebuilding of a 1,950 seat theater, the stage and the lobby as well as new dressing rooms, rehearsal and training rooms, and offices. "The ambitious nature of the show is to some extent a reaction to the success of digitally enhanced movies like "The Matrix". By creating a stage surface that can be orientated in any direction, and then working with artists, for almost two years, to create performances that at some moments seem almost weightless, the show reproduces live some of the disorientating qualities of contemporary blockbusters. The fact that the action is presented live, with real flesh and blood performers, increases the adrenalin rush for the audience. It also represents a huge investment in something that can only be witnessed by going to see the show - an unusual proposition in an age where we take it for granted that all experiences may be downloaded, often free of charge." - Mark Fisher
Mark Fisher Fisher describes the look as "industrial Baroque" with four levels of posts and metal beams that serve as performance platforms, integrating the playing areas with the audience. To exaggerate the sense of verticality the ceiling and the proscenium height have been raised.
Lighting designer Luc Lafortune integrated more than 1800 fixtures into the post and beam construction including internal fixtures, illuminating the "crystals" on the bottom of each post. Because of the size of the theater and the pit additional sound comes from a stereo system built into each seat.
The original theater stage has been completely removed and replaced with a 40 foot deep hole. The rise to the seating is so gradual that the audience cannot see into the pit when they enter. As a conceptual answer to the void, Fisher designed two moving stages that are stored in the pit. A 80,000 pound floating deck, the size of a normal theater stage, that rises into view during the show, tilting from horizontal to vertical, and revolving 360 degrees. It can also lift, tilt and spin simultaneously. A 30 inch square Tatami deck serves as a B stage, sliding open like three drawers, and allowing scenes to crossfade. The moving stage, unlike any other scenic element ever devised to date, functions not only as a conventional stage, but as a beach, a hillside, a cliff, a mountain top, and eventually as a battlefield seen from above. The acrobats work on the deck in all of its many positions, creating a very dynamic performance.
KÀ is the first Cirque show with a plot. The title, KA, came from an ancient Egyptian belief in an invisible spiritual duplicate of the body that accompanies every human being through this life and the afterlife. The story, devised by writer-director Robert Lepage, tells of twins, a brother and sister, separated during an attack at the royal court and meeting many outlandish creatures on a beach, in a forest, in a mountaintop tepee, while they try to elude Japanese gangster types led by the Councillor, a yellow-hooded Fu Manchu. KÀ means duality in Egyptian, and the plot eventually reconciles brother and sister, sea and sand, Earth and sky. Besides its cast of acrobats Cirque's latest production will include martial artists, puppetry, pyrotechnics and multimedia elements. It features 72 performers. KÀ is directed by the avant-garde Canadian actor-writer-director Robert Lepage.