Royal de Luxe is a French street theatre company that specializes in performing huge outdoor spectacles featuring a cast of giant mechanical marionettes. Based in the French port city of Nantes, they have performed their “spectaculars” in cities throughout Europe, Mexico, Australia and even Iceland. The company prides itself on its adherence to two rules for all its shows, they must be performed outdoors rain or shine and they must always be completely free for the public.
This is not the first time Royal de Luxe has performed in Liverpool. They first appeared there in 2012 with Sea Odyssey: Giant Spectacular, a massive three day outdoor spectacle commemorating the sinking of the Titanic. It was hailed as the most successful event in the history of Liverpool with an estimated 600,000 people participating in the event over three days and generating an astonishing economic impact of £32 million (about $53 million U.S.).
That success helped to forge close ties between the company and its host city. Royal de Luxe’s Artistic Director Jean-Luc Courcoult has spoken openly of his love for Liverpool and has become fast friends with its Mayor, Joe Anderson, so it wasn’t really surprising that it easily beat out several other competing cities for the opportunity to present Memories of August 1914.
In this interview with BBC news Courcoult explains the characters he brought with him this time:
The giants were welcomed by a crowd of 100,000 people and immediately made quite a stir, both on the streets of Liverpool as well as social media:
— George Bullock (@SpringheeledG) July 25, 2014
— steve goudie (@SteveGoudie) July 25, 2014
By the time the giants finished their journey and set sail more than 1.5 million people are estimated to have seen them, which makes this one of the largest Royal de Luxe performances ever (the record holder is 2010’s The Giant of Guadalajara, which was seen by 3.5 million people in Mexico).
Millions more will have the opportunity to see the giants in person soon. Next they travel across the Irish Sea to Limerick, where The Giant’s Journey will be performed in September. More spectacles are planned for cities in Australia, Belgium, Chile, and the United States throughout 2015-16.