They say it takes a village to raise a child. But to put on the largest spectacle in the biggest entertainment destination in the world? It takes a small city.
The small city behind KÀ by Cirque du Soleil is made up of a cast and crew of nearly 300, working and performing together in Las Vegas. According to Yago Pita, company manager of KÀ, the city’s centre, the enormous space of the KÀ Theatre at MGM Grand, is open and being worked in every single day of the year.
On a typical show day, the theatre is alive from 6 a.m. to midnight. The schedule includes initial setup of the room, equipment checks, preparation for daily rehearsal, daily rehearsal, preset, opening the doors for the public, then two performances, back-to-back. If KÀ is a city, it’s a busy one.
According to Pita, belonging to that city is “almost like an adrenaline rush for a manager”. He continues, “This room is so filled with talent, with drive, with ownership, that anybody who has those resources in order to achieve goals.”
The cast and crew of KÀ come from a wide array of backgrounds: from traditional circus, to gymnastics, to actors. The company recently hired a former WWE wrestler as one of the show’s main characters.
“We picked the cast, and we picked the crew as well,” explains Pita. “They have ownership, and they have stakes in the show. They’re shareholders of what this product is.”
In addition to achieving intimidating organizational goals behind the scenes, the show defies practical theatrical constraints on stage. KÀ has done away with the traditional stage entirely. The show plays out on a 360-degree rotating stage, suspended on first lifts that allow it to travel up and down the space.
Pita describes the staging of KÀ as a type of transportation, explaining, “We changed the capabilities of the stage to create that travelling in the minds of our public. We bring [the audience] to different places by morphing what they’re looking at, in front of their eyes.”
That transformative nature is brought to the treatment of the entire theatre space, down to the last detail. In lieu of placing KÀ’s sound booth where it would be in a traditional theatre—in the 200-section where the upper and lower sections are divided—the sound booth is placed above even the control booth at the top of the theatre.
Ushers and gatekeepers at the show all have their own characters and costumes. Speakers and lights are treated to ensure they blend into their environments. Anything that may detract from the immersive quality of the show is considered and carefully curated.
When asked about how the show was conceived, Pita laughs before replying. “I think it was conceived out of a brilliant, creative, incredible madness. Who would come up with something like that? ‘Let’s do a show that has no stage, then let’s figure out the rest.' That’s a Picasso way of working.”
With headliners, concerts, comedians, theatre acts and major festivals happening all year long, it’s no wonder Las Vegas is nicknamed the Entertainment Capital of the World. Cirque has a total of seven shows in Las Vegas, including Michael Jackson ONE at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and Mystère at Treasure Island.
KÀ runs for 90 minutes, with shows twice a day from Saturday to Wednesday, and is meant to be enjoyed by audience members of all ages.