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25 novembre 2007

Theatrical visionary prophesied nine eleven

A leading theatre director foretold the destruction of the Twin Towers in a play which was due to be performed in New York but abandoned 10 days after the 2001 tragedy - according to a new book.

Dr Aleksandar Dundjerovic from The University of Manchester says the depiction of terrorists crashing a plane in Robert Lepage's 'Zulu Time' was an eerie coincidence - but typical of his visionary qualities. In 'The Theatricality of Robert Lepage' launched tomorrow, the Senior Lecturer in Theatre Performance explores the Canadian artist's creative process by putting his best known productions under the microscope.

Zulu Time was a collaboration with musician Peter Gabriel and due to tour the world following a 21 September premier at the enormous Roseland Ballroom in 2001. One of the scenes was to feature big-screen images showing news footage of plane crashes ending in a collision caused by terrorist hijackers.

Lepage is famous for using lavish stage sets which use huge television screens and other multimedia innovations. The artist - well-known for his shyness and cross dressing - spent $200 million - the biggest theatre budget in history - on a high profile production for the Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil.

He has wowed UK audiences since he exploded onto the scene in the 1990's, most notably with his solo performances The Far Side of The Moon in 2001 and The Anderson Project in 2006. However, he is also known for theatre aestheticism that is built on a shoe string budget working with unknown artists and actors.

Dr Dundjerovic said: "The depiction of terrorist atrocities in Zulu Time is an amazing coincidence. Unsurprisingly, the production was abandoned though it did resurface briefly at the Montreal International Festival in 2002- in an altered form. But it hasn't really seen the light of day as sensitivities are still so raw. I think it's unlikely we'll ever see it performed now. The episode is in a way typical of how Lepage works as he allows the audience to construct a story by giving them images and ideas.

"What begins as his feeling eventually becomes intensely pertinent. This quality is evident in other productions. For example in 1989 'Tectonic Plates' was set in Venice in a completely flooded stage where the characters were slowly drowning. It was about man's destructive interaction with the environment long before the issues of global warming hit the headlines. His work shows that theatre is absolutely capable of pointing to you towards what the future holds. After all, our future is based on our past. This explains why prediction and foresight are evident in Lepage's work in general and is one of the reasons why many people regard him as a visionary."

He added: "Since the 1980s, multimedia and new technologies have had a great impact on theatre, allowing performance to establish its own language of communication with the audience independent of the written text. He is one of the pioneers and main exponents of mixed-media performance and internationally renowned for his distinctive work. The book will give a bird's eye view of how this great theatre practitioner works."

19 Nov 2007

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