Huge crowds filled the streets of Geneva on Friday to marvel at an eight-metre 83-year-old grandmother and her six-metre grand-daughter: puppets from the French street theatre group Royal de Luxe.
Smiles and cameras greeted the enormous marionettes, which awoke from a long slumber and gently ambled through the packed car-less streets, occasionally stopping to talk to spectators.
“The grandmother has a strange language with Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Arabic and Asian sounds,” said Royal de Luxe director Jean-Luc Courcoult. She also smokes a pipe, likes a drop of whisky and is known to spit and break wind.
A 60-strong team of so-called Lilliputians, aerialists, puppeteers and crane-operators, assisted by volunteers, were responsible for the effortless movements of the giant grandmother, who is followed by her own band of musicians and a massive five-ton wheelchair and her five-year-old grand-daughter. The Lilliputians also helped translate the granny’s incomprehensible speech to spectators.
Some 700,000 spectators are expected from September 29-October 1 for the free Saga of the Giants poetic extravaganza in the Swiss cityexternal link. During their three-day visit, the giant puppets will stop at various locations throughout Geneva and along the lake.
Royal de Luxe is a Nantes-based theatre company which was founded in 1979 by Courcoult and other artists. It has created ten giant street marionettes since 1993, such as a huge elephant marionette, which brought London and many other cities around the world to a standstill. Each time the stories and shows are modified to fit the city and environment.
The giant granny puppet first appeared in 2014 at the “Planck Wall” show in Nantes, France, and in Limerick, Ireland, and Liverpool, Britain.
The street theatre company was invited to Geneva by the Théâtre de Carouge and the Geneva government. The event is expected to cost CHF2.2 million ($2.26 million), most via sponsors and private contributions.