TR Robertson –The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, currently on stage at the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage at the Old Globe Theatre Conrad Prebys Theatre Center, is a beautiful adaptation of the mind and thoughts of the Renaissance genius of Leonardo da Vinci as drawn from parts of the 5,000 pages of his manuscripts. Written and directed by Tony Award winning director Mary Zimmerman, the play uses sections from Leonardo’s notes assembled long after da Vinci’s death in 1519, sections first published in 1632 and the most recent discovered in Spain in 1965.
Photos by Jim Cox
The 5,000 pages contains lists, ideas and thoughts, drawings, and inspirations from this Renaissance artist, scientist, painter, sculptor, inventor, philosopher and futurist. Zimmerman’s play depicts in 90 minutes representations of the artistic approaches, variations of positions of the human body, rules for proportions, differences between breathing and laughter, perspective, parts of man, four powers of nature, and the relationship of the artist to the subject. Using only da Vinci’s own words we see and hear how he experienced, saw and imagined everything in the world around him. The original play was produced by Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Illinois, on November 9, 1993.
Eight amazing performers use not only his words but incorporate beautiful movement and acrobatic feats, rivaling any Cirque de Soleil, to depict a visual look at the artist’s thoughts. To help with this the set on stage is made of massive, towering, large filing cabinets that will open at times to reveal the various topics the pages discuss, at times become parts of the topics being revealed and at times become parts of the set the performers use to bring da Vinci’s words to life on stage.
Two fascinating scenes in the play depict memories da Vinci had both as a youngster and at another moment in his life. The first was of approaching the opening of a huge cave, desiring to enter but fearing the darkness of the cave, but also drawn to what he might discover inside the cave. The second memory was when he was a child and dreamed a falcon had flown to his crib, striking him with its beak and hitting him with its tail in Leonardo’s mouth. He had a lifelong love of birds, at times buying caged birds to release them. Da Vinci also drew pictures of flying machines he hoped might work, letting his imagination soar.
The talented performers and actors for the play playing Leonardo and making their Globe debut were Adeoye, Christopher Donahue, Kasey Foster, John Gregorio, Anthony Irons, Louise Lamson and Andrea San Miguel. Returning to the Globe was Wai Yim. Zimmerman’s Creative Team consisted of Scenic Designer Scott Bradley, Costume Designer Mara Blumenfeld, Lighting Designer T.J. Gerckens, Sound Designer Michael Bodeen, Acrobatic Consultant Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi, Original Music by Miriam Sturm and Michael Bodeen and Production Stage Manager Marne Anderson.
Performances of The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci will run until February 26th. Tickets are available online at www.TheOldGlobe.org or call 619-234-5623. Regular ticket prices start at $33.00. Opening at The Globe on February 11th will be Under a Baseball Sky.