Zurich’s Zimmermann & de Perrot’s ‘Hans was Heiri’ makes U.S. premiere at Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts


Zimmermann & de Perrot's "Hans was Heiri". Photo by Mario Del Curto.

Zimmermann & de Perrot’s “Hans was Heiri”. Photo by Mario Del Curto.

By Steve Sucato

Martin Zimmermann and Dimitri de Perrot say of their works, “We do everything very seriously, but take nothing seriously.” The award-winning duo’s Zurich-based Zimmermann & de Perrot combines circus arts, dance, theater and a whole lot of wackiness. The troupe makes its Pittsburgh debut with the U.S. premiere of Hans was Heiri, in three Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts shows at the August Wilson Center.

On its website, the company describes itself as “theater based on precise observation, humorous repetition, distortion, and the artistically accomplished transformation of everyday interactions.”

By phone from Montreal, co-director and choreographer Zimmerman says that Hans builds on the idea that while we humans strive for individuality, we are surprisingly similar in our basic needs and desires.

The family-friendly, 80-minute piece takes place in a zany world where six lonely, off-the wall characters occupy what could be an apartment building with a shared bathroom. The characters are tragic, comical, human but not quite normal, Zimmerman says.

Zimmermann & de Perrot's "Hans was Heiri". Photo by Mario Del Curto.

Zimmermann & de Perrot’s “Hans was Heiri”. Photo by Mario Del Curto.

The set is dominated by a large cube rotating on a horizontal axis and partitioned into four rooms. In a video clip, the characters tumble into corners or other rooms of the cube, and run along its outside like hamsters on a wheel.

“It is a really surrealistic, funny world,” says Zimmerman.

Zimmermann & de Perrot perform Hans was Heiri, 8 p.m. nightly Wed., Oct 16, through Fri., Oct. 18. August Wilson Center, 980 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $19-55. 412-456-6666 or www.trustarts.org.

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