Big Names brings living statues of some of history’s greatest creators to IFC Mall
Coco Chanel, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney ... the Names don't come any bigger
The founder and creative director behind the Austrian living statue troupe Big Names talks about resurrecting iconic figures such as Steve Jobs, Coco Chanel and Albert Einstein.
What drew you to the performing arts field?
Radovan Michalov: Performing arts have always been the field of my interest, hobby, something that I like. I was born in Spisska Nova Ves, Slovakia, in 1976 and studied dance, pantomime and theatre art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava. I’ve gained a lot of performing experiences as a street performer – be it showman, dancer, mime or living statue – in places including Vienna, Florence, London, Prague, Barcelona and Paris.
And how did you make use of that experience?
Michalov: I started an artistic agency in 2005 and since then I’ve been producing various show productions. The latest and very successful production that I created was Big Names. It was premiered in Istanbul, Turkey, in March this year and is here now at the IFC Mall [until October 13].
How did the idea of Big Names come about and what’s the concept behind?
Michalov: We wanted to introduce and bring to people from all over the world the icons that changed and influenced the world. We wanted to introduce them to people in an interesting way – to meet them alive, in action as living statues. My goal was to bring the highest level of living statues in the world, so that people [don’t know] if the statues are real or not.
So it’s purely entertainment?
Michalov: There is also educational element to it. We’d like people to know who were the inventors of iPhone or other things that they are using on a daily basis.
Can you walk us through the “resurrection” process?
Michalov: We select Big Names characters based on the inventions that they brought. We try to bring in diversity and choose inventors from various fields. We are always looking at the photo material of the selected character from different periods of his or her life. Then we choose some concrete part of it, say specific age, that’s the most interesting for us to produce.
What characteristics and criteria do you seek in performers?
Michalov: There is a casting for the performers when we are looking for the proper candidates. We usually consider the age, visual similarity to the character, and experiences with acting and pantomime. After the selection process, each of them has to study the character they are going to present. They have to go through training, the intensity of which depends on their previous experiences.
Is it a very challenging process?
Michalov: Each character is specific and required long preparation work, but these were no challenges for us. These are the dreams and we’re trying to follow our dreams like Mr Walt Disney said: “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
What do you treasure most about the show?
Michalov: There are always funny moments when the performers suddenly start to move when the audience least expect it. People always think until the moment they move that they are real statues.
How does travelling around the globe inspire Big Names to improve?
Michalov: Our goal is to bring our show to countries all around the world. We’re trying to collect as many experiences as we can and we’re already working on new addition – the idea is to bring back singing idols including Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and Amy Winehouse. Our team has already started to work on this idea; all should be ready in spring 2016.