Cirque du Soleil doesn’t traditionally use animals in its numerous traveling shows. And it still doesn’t, technically, in its latest offering in New York “Totem.” But writer and director Robert Lepage found a way to portray leaping lizards, monkeys and other-worldly beings by conceiving snake-like acrobatics routines and bird-like high-wire acts. Lepage, who created “KA” for Cirque’s Las Vegas home and staged Wagner’s “Ring” cycle at the Met in New York, caught up with Speakeasy to chat about the show’s fusion of man and animal and the necessary geometry of the circus.
The Wall Street Journal: What made you decide to do another Cirque show?
Robert Lepage: I’ve always wanted to do a touring show for Cirque. Every time they wanted to hire me it was for shows that didn’t tour. I wanted to do a touring one. They’re smaller — they’re still huge productions — but I really liked the idea of a traveling show. It’s more based on performance than the big spectacular shows in Vegas. It’s more about athletes and gymnasts and people who really perform. You have to wrap your concepts around that. You need to sift a concept out of their physical disciplines. It’s a very different approach.