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Zed was a resident Cirque du Soleil production written and directed by François Girard. It is the second resident show in Asia and the second resident Disney show after La Nouba. Zed premiered on October 1, 2008, at the Cirque du Soleil Theater, Tokyo Disney Resort, in Urayasu, Chiba, Japan. Zed's final performance was on December 31, 2011.

The name Zed comes from the Commonweath letter for Z.[1] The inspiration for Zed was taken from the Major Arcana Tarot Cards in which the main character Zed represents Number 0 card: The Fool.


Due to the safety concerns arising from the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, Cirque du Soleil ordered an inflatable airbag from Canvasland located in Levin, New Zealand. The nylon cushion measured 12 by 5 meters (39 ft × 16 ft) and weighed 200 kilograms (440 lb) costing $15,000. The design included an air mattress base and inflated tongs; this allowed the artist to fall safely in any position without bouncing off. The airbag was used in the high wire act, ensuring additional safety in the event of any new earthquakes and aftershocks.[2]

As a result of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, Zed's shows from March 11 through April 20, 2011, were canceled. The artists and staff of Zed were temporarily relocated to Macau where they continued training at Cirque du Soleil's resident show Zaia.

On Sunday, July 24, 2011, it was announced that Zed would be permanently closing on December 31, 2011. The closure was due to the business environment that arose from the impacts of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Zed had reached its one-millionth guest faster than any show in Japan, and had seen great success with over 1,000 performances.[3]


The story of Zed is about a man dressed in white named Zed, a lone traveler who goes on a journey to unite both the Sky and Earth. As he sets out on the voyage to bring both worlds together, he meets with the world's rulers, Nouit and Abraka. By the end of the show, Zed represents consciousness, restored harmony and the reversal of the order of things through laughter.

Set and Technical Information[]

ZedStage.jpg Cirque du Soleil spent three years constructing the Cirque du Soleil Theater Tokyo for its resident show Zed.[4] The theater, which is located at the Tokyo Disney Resort, was exclusively designed for Zed. The roof was formed by polyhedrons and was made to look similar to the circus tents seen at Cirque du Soleil's Grand Chapiteau touring shows. The form was designed to capture the sun's light from any angle.[6]

François Séguin, set designer, drew inspiration for the set design from the astrolabe. The atmosphere of the stage was intended to evoke the High Renaissance and the beginning of the Mechanical Age. Finishings of the stage included many brass and copper components representing mechanical gears. Above the stage, a globe showed the meridians and lines of latitude, while the Milky Way and phases of the moon appeared on the stage floor. Also seen throughout the stage and show was the "Zed Alpha"—a 26-letter alphabet created for the show.[4]

Costume Design[]

Central to Zed's theme was the uniting of the people from the earth and sky. To set them apart, costume designer Renée April chose iridescent colors, pale shades, and heavy usage of pearl and silver for the people of the sky, and chose an Italian Renaissance color palette (gold, ochre, Venetian blue, turquoise green) for the people of the earth. Zed, who united this group, was clad in darted, all-white organza, and his outfit was reminiscent of a Pierrot. Djinn, who was part of the earth group, wore an outfit made of a synthetic silicone material. The neckline had a type of gold leaf appliqué to resemble an Inca or Aztec necklace. The torso, upper body, and arms had tattoo designs printed on the silicone material.

Additional highlights of the costumes included the following.

  • Nouit was fitted with 14 wings. Her costume was decorated with 400 LED lights.
  • Abraka's 4 wings spread out over 18 metres (59 ft) and ranged in color from purple to gold.
  • Kernoun's yellow and dark brown ochre costume had a hundred cornettes (orange and red flowers) sewn onto it. Many of these were motorized to create a rippling effect.


As the inspiration of Zed was the Tarot and its Arcana, many of the characters were based on this tradition.

  • Zed - The Man in White: Inspired by the Fool of the Tarot, Zed is the main character of the show ZED. Called to undergo a transformation, he is both multiple and omnipresent. The initial state of Zed is associated with the unconscious and chaos: his imbecility is obvious, but his silliness is touching because it reveals his vulnerability and naivety.  
  • Djinn - The Shaman's Apprentice: The Shaman is accompanied by Djinn, his accomplice and apprentice. Covered in gold leaf and smartly adorned, Djinn is the bringer of light and fire, opening the way wherever the Shaman may go. ZED is the meeting of two worlds: the heavens and the earth. And Djinn, the baton master, marshals this big bang by combining dance and gymnastics with flair.
  • The Shaman - Master of Incantations: Inspired by the Pope, the Shaman precedes in the birth of Nouit and Abraka, as to awaken the other elements. Zed finds the Shaman to be the guide to initiate him into the secrets of the Arcana and accompanies him on his path to self-realization.
  • Nouit - Mother of the Sky: The creator of the cosmos and mother of the sky, Nouit expresses infinite compassion for all beings and is an ally of Zed, whom she understands and quietly watches over making every effort to help him achieve his quest.
  • Abraka - Father of Earth: Inspired by "The Magician" of the Tarot, Father of the Earth and pro-creator of all the creatures who inhabit it. Abraka is all-powerful, but his power is earthbound and subject to the omnipotence of the Shaman. He is the guardian of the liberating, jubilant power of Zed.
  • Kernoon - The Devil: Inspired by "The Devil" in the Tarot, he embodies the troubled forces of the unconscious. Covered in the burning hues of reds, oranges, yellows and ochres, he reigns over the subterranean depths, a kingdom that is one of fire where the Satyrs are his unwitting subjects.
  • Erato - The Goddess of Heaven: Erato is a goddess of Heaven, a muse and a subject of Nouit. Bright, sparkling and divinely beautiful, she passes through the Sky like a ghost.
  • Oulai and Nalai - The Clowns: one is a vindictive petty dictator who seeks to control everything, while the other is just plain lazy and always finds a way to do as little as possible. Together, they form an inseparable duo of buffoons with the splendid naivety and great poetry to both move us and make us laugh.
  • The Animal Satyres - Satyres with tattered clothes that are covered with black and ebony brown colors, with heads of animals wearing fezes, lurking behind the curtain at the beginning of the show. They enter the stage again in the firey world where Kernoon, the king of fire calls upon them as his loyal subjects to light the world with torches to bear witness to a mastered performance.


  • Preshow: Oulai and Nalai interact with the audience.
  • The Vortex (Opening): Oulai and Nalai open a book located on the stage. They are transported into the world of Arcana where they meet Zed. After Zed falls into the center of the stage, the curtain gets sucked into the hole where it creates a vortex.
  • Bungee: Four artists perform a bungee act as Noulit sings.
  • Mirror (Interlude): Zed encounters a double of himself.
  • Lassoing: A group of artists performs various tricks with lassos.
  • Hi Hi Hi (Clown Act): Nalai has a small secret that Oulai wants to see.
  • Chinese Poles / Trampoline : Four artists perform on Chinese Poles with a trampoline in the center.
  • Aerial Silks: An artist performs an aerial silk act.
  • High Wire: A group of artists performs on a high wire.
  • Tightrope (Clown Act): Oulai and Nalai reenact the Highwire Act.
  • Juggling: A group of artists juggles various objects such as batons, frisbees, and fire.
  • The Fly (Clown Act): Nalai's sleep is interrupted by a fly.
  • *Banquine: A group of artists performs a banquine act.
  • *Aerial Straps Duo: Two artists perform and an aerial straps duo act.
  • *Baton Twirling: Djinn performs a baton-twirling act.
  • *Hand To Hand: Two artists perform a hand to hand balancing act.
  • *Fishing (Clown Act): Ouali and Nalai go fishing and find the Shaman's rod.
  • *Flying Trapeze: A group of artists perform on the flying trapeze.
  • *Finale (Charivari): Oualai and Nalai exit the book, but the world of Arcana still interacts with them. The clowns try to conceal Arcana back in the book but to no avail.


The music for Zed was composed by René Dupéré with additional compositions by E.L. Allaire and M.L. Ferguson. A soundtrack for Zed was produced by Martin Lord Ferguson and Ella Louise Allaire. Zed's soundtrack was released on October 13, 2009.

For more information on the songs featured in Zed, please visit Zed (Soundtrack).






Concept Art





  1. Zed. Retrieved from
  2. Canvas company softens circus blow. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  3. Cirque du Soleil Theatre Tokyo “ZED” to Close . (n.d.). Retrieved from
  4. 4.0 4.1 Cirque du Soleil All rights reserved. (n.d.). Facts About The Show. Retrieved from

External links[]