And now for something completely different! Duke Performances will present Measuring Man, MUM Puppettheatre’s whimsical look at the eventful life and eccentric working habits of Italian artist, inventor, and scientist Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Nov. 18 and 19 in the Reynolds Industries Theater in the Bryan Center on Duke University’s West Campus. The world-renowned painter of “The Last Supper” (1495-98) and the “Mona Lisa” (c. 1503-06) was an all-around genius who “epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal,” according to Encyclopædia Britannica, which devotes 22 web pages to da Vinci’s life and monumental accomplishments in art, architecture, engineering, and science.

According to the web site of the award-winning Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based MUM Puppettheatre, Measuring Man was written and performed by Daniel Stein and Robert Smythe and directed by Fred Curchack. MUM Puppettheatre adds:

Measuring Man uses events from the life of Leonardo da Vinci, the movement virtuosity of Daniel Stein and the world-class puppetry of Robert Smythe to explore the struggle to create, regardless of the consequences.

Beginning with Leonardo’s apprenticeship, Measuring Man riffs on the spectacular risks and even more incredible failures of the original Renaissance Man, turns of fortune that plague every artist. From the ‘Adoration of the Magi’ to his ‘Last Supper,’ Stein and Smythe reveal the humor, humanity and astonishing secret of one of the world’s most creative and enigmatic thinkers.

“Juxtaposing ideas and working on multiple levels, Measuring Man evokes the diversity of da Vinci’s research in which he often used maps, designs, drawings, and sketches simultaneously. Measuring Man uses da Vinci’s own words, object manipulation, stand-up comedy, and an astonishing and unforgettable ending of hope ensure that Measuring Man is no biography of a plaster saint, but a portrait of an artist of flesh and blood.”

The MUM Puppettheatre, which won the Philadelphia City Paper‘s 2004 Readers Choice Award for Best Local Theatre Company and was named 2004 Theater Company of the Year by Philadelphia Weekly, adds:

“Daniel Stein is widely regarded as the man who changed mime into movement performance with his first solo play, Timepiece. The protégé of Etienne Decroux who carved his own way in the world of mime, he has taught throughout the world at institutions such as the Juilliard School of Drama and The Institute of Dramatic Arts, Tokyo. He has received numerous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and was named a Guggenheim Fellow in 1990. He is the School Director of the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre in Blue Lake, CA.

“Robert Smythe is one of the most highly regarded puppeteers in the United States. The founder and Artistic Director of Mum Puppettheatre, he has created and per formed over 20 productions for the company, including From the Ashes, which won the Pick of the Fringe at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2001. He has won four Barrymore Awards [and] three UNIMA Citations and was named a Guggenheim Fellow in 1998.”

In reviewing a previous Daniel Stein-Robert Smythe collaboration, The Suburban and Wayne Times of Wayne, Pennsylvania wrote: “MUM Puppettheatre productions demand more attention than almost anything else on Philadelphia stages. Thankfully, they reward that attention with constant ingenuity of staging and hard-won moments of emotional resonance.”

Duke Performances presents the MUM Puppettheatre’s production of Measuring Man Thursday-Friday, Nov. 18-19, in the Reynolds Industries Theater in the Bryan Center on Duke University’s West Campus in Durham, North Carolina. $20 ($5 Duke students). 919/684-4444 or visit Duke Performances: MUM Puppettheatre: