Cape Town - Craig Leo is an SA puppeteer, performing artist and production designer. He was apprenticed to SA circus guru Keith Anderson and trained with the Zip Zap Circus. While performing in the Sun City circus extravaganza Baletsatsi, he co-founded the acrobatic theatre company Myth which toured SA and Europe.
He has also worked extensively with the Handspring Puppet Company here and abroad, touring the UK, Europe, the US and the Far East. Productions include the multi-award-winning War Horse at London’s National Theatre. He created the role of the lead horse in that production and was associate puppetry director when it transferred to London’s West End. He is currently production designer for JM Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians at the Baxter Theatre. He is based in Cape Town.
Do you travel mainly for fun or work?
I travel pretty extensively and it’s mainly for work. But I almost always get to spend some down- time in the places I visit. These included the UK, Menorca, Belgium, France, Sweden, Denmark, Turkey, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Austria, five states in the USA, Argentina, Macau, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and the Seychelles.
What was your best overseas destination?
One of my favourite experiences was the time spent on a glorious week-long break from work in Sossusvlei, Namibia. I loved it because of the massive open spaces and being on the edge of the Kalahari.
Your worst experience on a holiday?
Definitely when I was held back at Heathrow Airport for 12 hours before the authorities sent me straight back home to SA. My work permit had been incorrectly classified. How was I to know this? It was horrific.
Your funniest experience?
I was sleeping on a bus on the way to Istanbul – when I woke up there were lots of little faces peering over me – apparently they were fascinated by my many piercings at the time.
What do you avoid during a holiday?
I avoid panicking when I fear that I won’t understand the language or the directions in a foreign city.
Your favourite place for sundowners?
There is a fabulous beach bar in the Seychelles where you can literally fall off your bar stool onto soft sea sand. I silently wept on the plane as we took off for home and the island got smaller and smaller.
What have you learnt from your travels?
Not to have any expectations while travelling and also to master the local method of public transport as soon as I am in a city or country.
Ideal travelling companion?
Fun-loving, independent souls. Often it’s my Magnet Theatre travel companions, otherwise it’s just me.
Culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
A bit of both. A career in the circus means I love anything adrenalin really, but currently because I am working so much in theatre I tend to end up in the middle of the culture first… yes, I know!
Greatest travel luxury?
Without any doubt it is my suitcase which is very sexy and can easily be filled – the brand is Animal. It has been to so many places with me and it loves to go shopping with me wherever I go travelling.
I relish picking up a book, which I usually source at the airport when I know I’m about to travel. I usually choose an easy read.
For me it has to be the road between Windhoek and Walvis Bay in Namibia – I have never seen such immaculate desolation.
I would love to get to experience the Northern Lights someday soon.
To Australia in October where we will be staging War Horse. - Weekend Argus