The Ultimate Scribbles Take the Stage in STC’s ‘The Notebooks of Leonardo daVinci’

In many ways, he was the ultimate scribbler. It has been estimated that Leonardo da Vinci produced some 28,000 pages of notes and sketches in 50 different notebooks about topics that interested him; varied topics that showcased his curiosity for the world around him and how it worked.

And the latest play at Shakespeare Theatre Company has those scribbles on its stage.

The Notebooks of Leonardo DaVinci may be unlike any play you’ve experienced, which is appropriate since the painter/ draughtsman/ engineer/ scientist/ theorist/ sculptor/ architect was also an anomaly of his time.

This meandering mix of random ruminations and deep scientific thought are expressed both in spoken word and contemporary movement. (Imagine this one as equal parts unplotted play and modern dance performance.)

Every actor plays daVinci — even the stage — which is (so fittingly) an enormous and transforming filing cabinet… library catalog… mortuary chamber… a superb construction that is incorporated as rivetingly as daVinci’s reveries.

From painting to philosophy, perspective, and physiology, daVinci’s preoccupation with observation lacks cohesion but is certainly beautiful to experience.

Keep in mind that these jots not only inform much of what we know about the world today but also sprinkle in tidbits of cultural relevance from Renaissance times. Some of the best musings — and moments of levity — include stories of frustrations with his protégé. The mischief!

DaVinci’s notes — to himself and posterity — are essentially love letters to bodies of all forms… human, flying, celestial… and bodies of knowledge. See this show to fall in love with all of this, and the Renaissance man’s mind as well.

The Notebooks of Leonardo daVinci plays at STC’s Klein Theatre through October 23rd. Runtime is approximately 90 minutes with no intermission. Tickets are available here.

*All images credit Scott Suchman for Shakespeare Theatre Company

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