Acrobat Tobias Wegner brings gravity-defying show, LEO, to The Cultch

Multi-talented German performer Tobias Wegner is in town to present LEO, his mind-bending,  one man-comedy show that challenges the reigns of gravity with acrobatic movements within a restricted space at The Cultch.

The show,which was developed from a comedy act by Wegner and Canadian theatre director  Daniel Briere in partnership with  Berlin-based Circle of Eleven,  won the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award  Three Weeks Editors Award and The Scotsman Fringe First Award at the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe festival.

Wegner’s inspiration comes from his childhood days   watching Fred Astaire doing the standing ceiling dance  in the film "The Royal Wedding" and other early cinema. Following his love of acrobatics, he enrolled in the University of Contemporary  Circus Arts in Brussels, specializing in trampoline --where he experienced the "highest heights". The idea of defying gravity never left his mind.

“I thought in the way to transform the ceiling into a kind of show actually without the trampoline, but it would have the same feeling of the non-gravity experience and that's how the basic idea of LEO was born,” Wegner told the Vancouver Observer.

The one-hour show started its journey when Briere visited  Berlin to work on a project with Circle of Eleven in 2009.  At the time, Wegner was running a clown number of his creation based on the “staying principle” with  a camera (filming Wegner doing his act), a projector and a video projecting the film at the same time, but at a different angle. Then, if he was lying on the stage floor,   the screen make it look as if he was standing against the wall.

“So when I am lying on the floor and lift my feet, it looks like I am sticking to the wall and the gravity is not coming from the floor, but from the side,” Wegner explained.  “I am performing right next to the screen, so the stage is split in half.”

There is also the existentialist, introspective dimension to the work.

“It's actually the story of a very average man in the beginning, somebody who could be anybody [...], who found himself trapped in this room [a box].  Maybe it's his home, maybe it's an open space –it's very open to interpretation, and then suddenly he discovers that gravity is changing,” Wegner explains.

This new-found power opens a array of opportunities for Leo, whose only “ally” in the show is a piece of baggage,  to discover talents that have been perhaps asleep and starts to create an environment around the box he is in. He also gets into a few slapstick humorous situations.

In the  hopes of mitigating his loneliness, Leo starts drawing chairs  and other furniture with a chalk. But nobody comes, and depression ensues.

“Those are feelings that many people can relate to, they feel along with him and I think that is the biggest strength of the show.”

Thus, Leo  manages to sit on his new furniture --  thanks to "inverted gravity"  and drews  animals as companions around, and dances floating in the confined space of the box --all of this a without muttering a word.

LEO runs through December 15.  For more info on schedule and tickets, visit: www.thecultch.com/

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