The “Leonardo Project” began after founder Michael Sullivan spent a summer abroad researching and studying puppetry in Europe with the world-famous Salzburg Marionettes. The following year, he started experimenting with his own puppet creations.
While Michael was on the faculty in Production Design at the University of Oklahoma, School of Drama, he received a faculty development grant. With support from his students and in collaboration with the Waco Children’s Theatre, the first workshop of Leonardo and the Flying Machine was produced in Waco in the summer of 2007.
In 2012, Michael was still developing a permanent place for his career life. YFS fully produced another production at St. Gregory’s University. After six weeks of rehearsal and production, the elaborately developed performance featured finished scenery, properties support, and an actor wardrobe to match the marionettes.
Over time, the project has taken on a life of its own. In 2020, Young Festival Stage was awarded a grant by the Rea Charitable Trust. The team started remaking the puppets during the height of the pandemic. The new rod puppets - instead of marionettes - take our world to a much more sophisticated visual place.
Now that Leonardo and the Flying Machine has been given life, Michael's goal is to share it with the world! In May 2023, we plan to mount a restaging of the 2020 production at Ball Performing Arts Center in McClennan Community College. Will we see you there?