The theatre for KÀ was created from the shell of a 2000 seat theatre built at the back of the MGM Grand Hotel in 1995. In 2003 the building was stripped back to the walls and bare earth before additional lobby, retail and backstage spaces were added. KÀ, a multi-media acrobatic show created by Robert Lepage and produced by Cirque du Soleil, opened in 2005.
The promenade, from casino to seat, is staged to maximise the dramatic impact of the architecture. The audience enter the theatre along curving ramped corridors that allow views of the ceiling of the auditorium while concealing the room from direct view. The full extent of the room is hidden until the last possible moment, when they turn onto the cross-aisle. The inspiration for the interior architecture came from the palisade of tree trunks that supports the Kiyomizu temple in Kyoto. The volume of the auditorium is carved out as negative space within an imaginary forest of columns. The result is a cathedral-like volume in which the rhythm of the posts and beams forms a seemingly endless space.
The architectural treatment of the auditorium is extended into the stage area so that the boundary between the stage and the auditorium is unclear. The stage floor was removed and the auditorium seating pushed upstage under the proscenium arch. The show is performed on two moving platforms that cantilever out over the void where the stage floor used to be. The main platform is 15m (50ft) wide by 7.6m (25ft) deep and 1.8m (6ft) thick. Weighing over 125 tonnes, it can pitch, roll and travel 24m (80ft) vertically from the basement to a position high above the audience. A smaller platform 9m (30ft) x 9m (30ft) cantilevers from upstage. The two platforms may be used together or separately to form a range of dramatic performance spaces.
The stage is 36m (120ft) wide and deep. The grid is 30m (100ft) above the nominal stage level; the basement floor is 15m (50ft) below. The narrative takes the audience on a journey by land, sea and air over beaches, cliffs, mountains and forests. Lepage uses the constantly changing geometry of the moving platforms to play with the audience's point of view of the acrobatic action even as they remain fixed in their seats. Combined with Cirque du Soleil's seemingly weightless performance skills, the result is an uninterrupted sequence of scenes that appear to defy gravity.