Chaos theorists have suggested that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil might cause a tornado in Texas. Well, we can't say for sure if the same goes for paper butterflies, but there will be plenty of flapping at Leland Faulkner's World of Wonder, and if the inverse theory also applies, Rio de Janeiro is about to experience a tsunami.
Faulkner has been touring for more than 20 years and has performed in venues throughout the United States and the world. His family-friendly production weaves together myths and magic from lands such as Japan, Africa, Germany and England. From an early age, Faulkner embraced a variety of cultures: He was born in Afghanistan to Native American parents and has lived in Tanzania and Iran. World of Wonder integrates several mediums including pantomime, origami and shadow play to tell tales about Faulkner's travels and experiences through pieces such as "The Sky God's Dance," based on African culture, "Mic Mac Tales," which originated with Native Americans, and, of course, "A Flight of Butterflies" and "The Paper Folder," drawn from Japanese tradition.
An apparent Renaissance man, Faulkner is trained in mime, acting, directing, choreography and special effects. He is also a licensed pyrotechnician, though a man who does both fireworks and origami seems, at least to us, like a four-alarm accident waiting to happen. (We can't imagine that children would be too delighted to see butterflies burst into flame, either. We could be wrong.) Faulkner gained his experience through the dying tradition of master and apprentice, studying under Tony Montanaro (who himself trained with Marcel Marceau) and the late Jacque Lecoq. At every turn, Faulkner aims to break ground for more expressionistic, imaginative visual theater. In pursuit of a more modern medium, Faulkner recently received a degree in filmmaking from the Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, California, and has put his study into practice, winning a CINE Eagle Award for his film As Luck Would Have It.
World of Wonder seeks to combine the actions on the stage with the interaction of the audience. And if you object, as so many do, to other "audience participation" stunts such as clucking like a chicken or being sawed in half, don't worry; this performance engages the imagination rather than the body of the viewer. Faulkner's use of visual effects--the interplay of light, shadow and magic--creates a new art form from the ancient arts of theater, puppetry and origami. The dexterity of the artist and the imagination of the spectator breathe life into the intricate folds. The piece is built around the performer's conviction that the ability to "make believe," especially in the illusion world created by theater, is a universal need, necessary at every age. (You'll know you're in too deep if you start questioning, like an ol' Chinese philosopher, "Did I dream the butterflies, or did they dream me?" In this case, it's just paper, folks.)
Even the type who thinks small squares of paper are better suited for rolling than origami (meaning, the grown-up kids) will enjoy Faulkner's performance. Just a little suspension of disbelief, a little faith in magic and the butterflies will fly for you, too.