Lovers of gigantic marionettes, street theatre, carnivals, and unconventional fun will surely have their heart strings tugged when the Giants of Royal de Luxe return to Antwerp this summer in a completely free outdoor show.
Royal de Luxe is a world-renowned street theatre ensemble akin to Cirque du Soleil. The weekend of 25-27 August, from 10 am, will see the fifth outing in Antwerp for this extraordinary company of inventors, stunt artists, poets and scrap-dealers, accompanied by their colossal creations.
1. Which giants will we meet?
Audiences are yet to find out for sure which giants they will be meeting this year in Antwerp’s streets and squares. Previous visitors include Big and Little Giant, Elephant, Little Giantess, and the giant Diver, who are all mentioned in a teaser flyer.
The company has taken its work all over the world. That includes archetypal figures such as 2014’s ‘Grandmother’, a 7.4-metre-tall ‘puppet’ weighing four tonnes and requiring 26 humans to move and operate her
A more recent creation that Antwerp spectators can expect to see is a pair of gargantuan dogs. ‘Bull Machin’ is described entertainingly on the Royal de Luxe website as follows: “One is as fragile as a packet of spaghetti, the other is denser and clumsier than hundreds of anvils on a small plate.”
Whichever characters come along, it is sure to be an astonishing and eccentric spectacle, thanks to company leader Jean-Luc Courcoult, an avant-garde figure who defies convention. Sheer exuberance meant he once jumped into Liverpool’s Mersey river and nearly died at the end of a show, while his giants sailed off on a boat.
Formed in 1979 with peers Courcoult met while studying theatre arts in Avignon, the company pre-empted today’s trend for outdoor theatre, ‘happenings’ and flashmobs. Courcoult had the prescient idea that it was easier to take a show outside to an audience, than persuade an audience to come indoors to them.
Ten years later, Royal de Luxe was offered a permanent home in a disused warehouse on the Loire river, by the Mayor of Nantes. Over the last 44 years, the company has gone from strength to strength touring everywhere from the USSR to Buenos Aires.
3. Emotion for everyone
It’s an incredible tale, and rightly so – because Royal de Luxe do not only deal in the sensational but in narrative. As their characters take to the streets, docks, bridges and waterways of Antwerp, audience members of all ages and predilections will be caught up in the unfolding storylines and emotion.
One head of culture in Liverpool, another port city which has welcomed the company, once told the BBC:
“My enduring memory of last time is seeing a guy in a high-vis jacket off a building site lean down and pat Xolo the dog. I saw older people brought out of sheltered accommodation with blankets over them, crying. It was a collective memory.”
Outdoor summer family entertainment at its best, the Giants of Royal de Luxe are not to miss.
For summer events, sun-drenched bars, and other key information on the summer season in Antwerp, download this flyer in English.
For accommodation in the city, check out the excellent recommendations on the Visit Antwerpen site.