Back in 1979, actor, Jean-Luc Courcoult had an idea which would eventually turn some of the worldâ€™s major cities into a stage for his astonishing creations. These days, his company, Royal de Luxe, is internationally-renowned for its giant marionettes and street performances which have, quite literally, become a huge hit with audiences far and wide.
More than three decades ago, Courcoultâ€™s trio decided that instead of their audience coming to watch their performances in Aix-en-Provence, theyâ€™d take the shows to the audience. Over the next 10 years, the shows grew and grew, becoming what today could quite rightly be described as the biggest shows on earth.
A decade after starting out, the Mayor of Nantes offered the company funding, and premises on the banks of the Loire. For the next couple of years, Courcoult and co. worked on their colossal marionettes, taking to the streets again for their first parade in the early â€˜90s.
The 30-50ft-high mechanical marionettes, regularly bring cities to a standstill as they make their way through the streets during the shows, which often re-enact local myths and legends. The wooden marionettes are built from lightweight poplar, and are controlled by between 20 and 40 Lilliputians – members of the Royal de Luxe troupe – operating a series of hydraulic levers and pulleys. So impressive are the marionettes, that they can blink and even â€˜breatheâ€™.
In order to maintain an air of mystique and wonderment, visits to the Royal de Luxe workshop are rarely allowed, and Courcoult himself hardly ever gives interviews. In addition, the troupe only performs in cities where there is what Courcoult describes as â€˜deep mythâ€™ â€“ something which will connect his marionettes to the people of that city.
Resembling elements ofÂ Jules Verne novels, Royal de Luxeâ€™s shows really are a spectacle worth seeing. To check out where theyâ€™ll be appearing, and for more details, please see their website and Facebook page.