The Giants by Royal de Luxe

Posted on May 8th, 2017 by .

Soon, onlookers will get an eyeful as the Deep Sea Diver, the Little Girl-Giant and Xolo pound (quite literally) the pavement in Montréal. The Giants parade, presented by the French street theatre company Royal de Luxe, is a flagship event of the city’s 375th anniversary celebrations featuring massive creatures and an army of Lilliputians.

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Another (towering) feat under its belt

Royal de Luxe is not new to the game. The troupe has been travelling the world for ages, weaving a new story for each destination. After skewering buses, putting a house in the trees, catapulting pianos and building a 10-ton book—each page, turned using cables, opened to a chapter of The True History of France—the renowned Nantes-based company launched the Giants saga, starring oversized yet endearing characters that touch the hearts of all who see them.

Herculean prep work

For its large-scale productions, the company turns to a repertoire of Giants built for various performances over the past 30 years. These lovable marionettes breathe, walk and blink thanks to the ingenuity of their creators, who use a combination of quality materials (wood and metal) and elbow grease to make the Giants come to life—no electronic devices are used to manufacture or manipulate them. Transporting, assembling and moving them is no small task; sometimes 15 different people have to coordinate their efforts to set the Giants in motion.

Lilliputian power

Moving the Giants is a hands-on job, requiring a small army of actor-athletes to guide them from the ground, from trailers and from the air. Their eyes are expressive, their movements graceful. You quickly forget the exploits of the troupe which, to the great delight of spectators, bends over backward pushing, pulling and skipping rope to bring the characters to life. Teams of clever Lilliputians in their magnificent red frock coats will be on hand to steer the Giants through Montréal—45 for the Deep Sea Diver, 28 for the Little Girl and 25 for Xolo.

A colossus with sea legs

At 9.5 metres tall, the Deep Sea Diver is a Giant of relatively modest proportions. And he’s a featherweight too, tipping the scales at a mere two tons. A central character in the Montréal show, this curious, solitary soul enjoys walking in the Saint Lawrence River and carting around his little treasures: a compass, a ship’s wheel and a captain’s hat. His loyal companion is a very ugly fish. We don’t know exactly what brings him to our cold shores, but the fish from the Saint Lawrence and the Great Lakes know him well.

A mischievous niece

The Little Girl-Giant travels through the seasons. While making her way across the Great North, her boat got stuck in blocks of ice. Luckily, a team of Lilliputians rushed to her rescue, and she can be here in Montréal alongside the uncle she hasn’t seen in a very long time. Since the tragic disappearance of her mother aboard the Titanic, the charming Little Girl—800 kg of steel and wood—has been wandering the globe, enjoying the view from 5.5 metres up in the air.

A (small) Mexican dog

The Little Girl’s trusty companion is a hairless Mexican dog named Xolo. He’s the size of a horse and runs like a bunny at speeds up to 6 km/h. Having met the Little Girl in Mexico a long time ago, Xolo never leaves her side.

A day in the life of a Giant

From May 19 to 21, the Giants will be taking it easy in Montréal. Like a lot of people, they’ll move around a bit and then get some rest. Curious onlookers can watch the two behemoths as they wake up and go to sleep and, of course, follow them on their three adventure-filled routes (one per day). When they get tired, they won’t hesitate to take a nap (don’t tell them this, but while they sleep, the Lilliputians refuel and finally get some rest).

Three days of wonder

Extraordinary scenery, parades, napping Giants? You won’t believe your eyes! But remember, the Royal de Luxe is only staying three days. The street theatre troupe that accepted our invitation to Montréal’s 375th anniversary party is not sticking around—they have other performances to do, like in Havre, for example, where the first Giant stepped foot in September 1993 (The Giant Fallen from the Sky). Montréalers finally get to see them in person, so don’t miss your chance!

Click here to see the locations and routes.

Up next:Montréal celebrates the 50th anniversary of Expo 67

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