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Set & Stage
    "It's like Jules Verne meets Nicola Tesla in an alternate reality, out of time. It’s not only a stage, you’re inside somebody’s mind. It's kind of crazy!" — Stéphane Roy

The set design of KURIOS makes you step into the curio cabinet of an ambitious inventor who defies the laws of time, space and dimension in order to reinvent everything around him. Set in what could be called a retro-future, in this parallel reality it is the steam engine and not the internal combustion engine that reigns supreme, evoking the start of the industrialization era, but as if science and technology had evolved differently and progress had taken on a more human dimension.

Roy, now working on his sixth Cirque du Soleil show, mentioned in an interview with the Montreal Gazette that Fellini's La Strada was an influence for his "copper-toned clockwork set, with its startling steam engine and quirky props." The 1900 Paris Exhibition, which honored the achievements of the 19th century, was important, too, because “it was when everything was invented for new communication and transportation,” Roy said. “Trains, planes, electricity, telegrams. It was a moment in the history of mankind when communication just went bang, everything was exploding.” Kurios differs from other Cirque du Soleil shows, he said, because “in this one you’re somewhere, you’re in a house, you’re in a room, in a space where things are happening.” This home is packed with curios. When the numbers appear “it’s as if a jewel box is being opened,” he added.

The performance space is dominated by two structures, referred to as "cabinets". One explores the topic of sound and the other the topic of electricity. Built by the Seeker using scraps and pieces collected over time, the two large towers also serve as “wave sensors” made from miscellaneous components such as gramophones, old typewriters, electrical bulbs and turbines. The two cabinets are attached to the main arch – another "wave sensor" – that dominates the stage. The opening at the center, at the back of the stage, evokes the mouth of a railroad tunnel through a mountain; it is mainly through this opening that artists move in and out of the spotlight and that equipment and props are taken on and off the stage. Above it sit the musicians.

For greater emphasis on the performance, every act in the show is presented on an independent structure – a module or a promontory – integrated into the set design. The stage itself was lowered 35 cm and a bank was installed all around its lip (the bank is a 60-cm-wide raised walkway on which two rails are installed for transporting various props). Presented on their separate, distinct structures, the acts in the show represent the curios that jump to life inside the Seeker’s workshop. Production manager Gabriel Pinkstone, another Cirque veteran, described Kurios as a complex show. “Michel is a director who enjoys a lot of detail, a lot of subtext,” she said. “We have a lot of elements that are mechanical because of the Steampunk inspiration. It’s complex dramaturgically as well because there are a lot of ideas that are difficult to express without words, like the idea of travelling to another reality.”

Cirque Corner