It takes one to know one.
Mary Zimmerman, a professor in Northwestern University’s famed Performance Studies program, is a certified “genius.” At least, that’s what the MacArthur Foundation thought when they awarded her one of their “Genius” grants. Professor Zimmerman took on a daunting task: to make sense of Leonardo da Vinci’s voluminous “notebooks,” which contained all manner of ideas, sketches, and musings. After the sense-making process, she assembled them into a performance where the notebooks themselves are the star. She has returned to the project over time. According to a program essay, her first production of them was at age 29. She is currently 63. Undoubtedly, her perspective has changed, and her text is different.
An Artistic Associate at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, Ms. Zimmerman originated this version of the notebooks there. The production traveled to Washington, DC’s Shakespeare Theatre before landing at San Diego’s Old Globe. The cast (Adeoye, Christopher Donahue, Kasey Foster, John Gregorio, Anthony Irons as Leonardo, Louise Lamson, Andrea San Miguel, and Wai Yim) all play a character named “Leonardo.” If these performers were not at the top of their game, I’d gladly tell you to stay home.
You don’t have to stay home. Come to the Shiley and see a crackerjack performance, precisely directed, and a brisk 90 minutes in length. There’s only a certain amount of genius an audience can digest in one sitting.
The designers toured from the Goodman as well: Scott Bradley’s scenic design lines to stage with stacks of drawers, which serve a myriad of functions and upon which performers enact not only precise movement but acrobatic moves, (Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi served as the Acrobatic Consultant). The stage was lit by T.J. Gerckens, Michael Bodeen designed the sound and composed original music along with Miriam Sturm, and Mara Blumenfeld did the costume design, which was based on the original design by Allison Reeds.
The Old Globe is fortunate to begin 2023 with a tribute to genius, in all its quirky forms.
Performs January 21 – February 26, 2023 in San Diego’s Balboa Park. The performance schedule is Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. There is no performance on Tuesday, February 21 at 7:00 p.m., and a 2:00 p.m. matinee is scheduled for Wednesday, February 22. Tickets are available online at www.TheOldGlobe.org, by phone at (619) 23-GLOBE (234-5623), or in person at The Old Globe’s Box Office. Free parking is available at lots throughout Balboa Park. Consult the Old Globe website about arranging for valet parking.