Set & Stage
When Saltimbanco was created, it was estimated that migration
to cities would continue to rise. This is the premise on which
Saltimbanco is based. Cities are networks of inter-relationships,
but they are also networks of paradoxes; the set design of
Saltimbanco reflects the contradictions of the city where the
powerful and the dispossessed live side by side. Anything is
possible here and so the set is an urban space stripped to its
most essential elements.
For Michel Crête, the production rests on the notion of "urbanity".
When Franco Dragone put forward this concept as a potential theme
for the production, the set designer shouldered the task of illustrating
a city poles apart from the dark imagry of film productions such as
Mad Max or Blade Runner. "This oppressive vision of the city of
tomorrow strenghtened our will to create an urban environment where
acrobats can manoeuver in liminosity and lightness."
However, Michel Crête had to explore various leads to create this
impression of an etheral and luminous city. Purely by chance, he
stumbled on a book on the evolution of materials in industrialized
society. "The intellectual approach necessary to building a molecule
or bulding the Pyramids is exactly the same," he explains. "Unquestionably,
composite materials have led me into a fascinating world we must
master if we wish to construct the cities of tomorrow."
The set design proposals were the center of a debate among the designers
ent on the theme of "urbanity". Composite materials were the answer to
their requirements, offering incredible resistance and uncommon charge
capacities. The scale models themselves illustrated stunning properties
and it was at this time that Michel Crête met with two engineers, one
a leading expert in the field of composite materials, the other a
specialist in the use of high-tech materials.
"We decided on the third proposal presented by the engineers - one
that was totally new to the engineers themselves." The basis of
Michele Crête's design, a rosace that seems to crown the set, is a
prototype composed of six superimposed rings. Light filters through
as it would through the branches of a tree or through a stained glass
window. Saltimbanco uses different coloured gels, the lighting gives
a cinematic effect by bringing characters in and out of focus
depending on their position on the the stage and on the
colour of their costumes. The lighting is also used to create
spaces by focusing on particular areas while leaving the rest
of the stage in obscurity.
The stage or performance area is outlined, thanks to the rosace,
a pattern that in turn offered Michele Crête an infinite number of
The stage itself is 34 meters (110 feet) long by 20 meters
(65 feet) wide, and 60 liters of paint were used to cover
the performance space. The aerial acrobatic grid, which is
9 meters (30 feet) long, and is suspended 14 meters (45 feet) above
the stage. It's main purpose is to hold the trapeze and bungee
rigs, but it also holds the rigging and all the lighting elements.
There is more than 183 meters (600 feet) of
trussing to comfortably and safely suspend the rig.