Ac­ci­den­tal puppeteer pulls strings for Cirque

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Stage - Www.tick­etek.com.au Tanya Mac­naughton

MIN­NESOTA-BORN and raised Rob Laqui be­came a puppeteer by ac­ci­dent.

Af­ter mov­ing to New York more than 10 years ago, the per­former was work­ing in phys­i­cal the­atre and dance when MOMIX, a com­pany of dancer-il­lu­sion­ists, called for him to work with pup­pets made by The Lion King de­signer Michael Curry.

“So I was pup­peteer­ing be­fore I knew I was pup­peteer­ing for the most part,” Laqui said.

“And then I got into a pro­duc­tion of War Horse that pro­pelled me into pup­petry as a more solid choice and I’ve been work­ing as a puppeteer ever since. I would have never pre­dicted this if you’d have asked me 10 years ago but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

One of Laqui’s first au­di­tions when he moved to New York was for Cirque du Soleil, where he was put “on call” on the com­pany’s data­base of po­ten­tial per­form­ers.

“There was a part of me that thought: ‘I’m go­ing to work for Cirque to­mor­row’ and it wasn’t un­til a decade later in 2014 that they called again to go in for an­other au­di­tion,” he said.

This time Laqui talked him­self up as a puppeteer – a new ven­ture for Cirque du Soleil – and he was of­fered a role in the team of six pup­peteers col­lab­o­rat­ing on Avatar-in­spired Toruk – The First Flight.

“I was hav­ing din­ner with a friend when I got the email and he just started laugh­ing be­cause we would al­ways have these nerdy con­ver­sa­tions about the sci­ence of Avatar,” Laqui said.

Toruk is tour­ing Aus­tralia and will be at Perth Arena from Novem­ber 24, with the sea­son ex­tended to De­cem­ber 3.

The show is a pre­quel to James Cameron’s Avatar and is set thou­sands of years be­fore the events of the film.

The vis­ual spec­ta­cle in­cludes more than 40 in­tel­li­gent pro­jec­tors to trans­form the arena set­ting and the au­di­ence can down­load the Toruk – The First Flight app to par­tic­i­pate fur­ther dur­ing mo­ments in the show.

A scene from TORUK - The First Flight.

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