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The Giant Marionettes of Royal de LuxeStreet Theatre


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#1 pherank

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 12:19 PM

Something I stumbled upon recently (so I guess I'm way behind the times) - The Giant Marionettes of Royal de Luxe theatre group:

http://www.theatlant...de-luxe/100293/
[You probably need to get past an advertisement first to see the article]

The group's website has a "picture wall" that allows you to view stills and videos of various past projects:

http://www.royal-de-.../pictures-wall/

When I look through the production photos and videos (which come at the end of the photo slideshows), I am instantly reminded of both filmmaker Terry Gilliam and the somewhat more infamous Mark Pauline of Survival Research Laboratories (based in the San Francisco Bay Area). The love for enormous, ungainly, Rube Goldberg devices, and the machinery of stage productions is self-evident: instead of hiding the ropes and wires that create the magic of the stage, the ropes, wires and contraptions become the aesthetic. The fact that all props and characters are colossal, and cumbersome, and the attending humans are rendered diminutive, seems to be the point here.

I'm curious how others react to this approach to art and theatre.

 

s_r27_0RTXP99N.jpg

 

s_r28_57545196.jpg

 

s_r38_03021036.jpg

 

Youtube has some live video from a show or two, but the art group's website has additional video...

 



#2 sandik

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 09:25 PM

Oh, Survival Research -- I haven't thought about them in ages!



#3 pherank

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 09:35 PM

Oh, Survival Research -- I haven't thought about them in ages!

 

I know, I know.  ;)  But very cool once upon a time.



#4 dirac

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 11:25 AM

I've nothing intelligent to add to the discussion at present but thank you for the links, pherank. My goodness.



#5 pherank

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 11:47 AM

I've nothing intelligent to add to the discussion at present but thank you for the links, pherank. My goodness.

 

You can cast your vote, Dirac: Just creepy? Or fascinating?

 

The images above kind of skew impressions - Royal de Luxe doesn't just create enormous walking marionettes.

To get a better idea of their range, on their website's "Pictures Wall", click on "The True History of France", or "The Mannequin's Revolt", or "Petits Contes Negres, Titre Provisoire" buttons to view various startling images...



#6 bart

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 09:44 AM

Thanks, phrank.  The photos posted with the Atlantic article are extraordinary.   I have to say that my reaction is similar to dirac's. 

I've nothing intelligent to add to the discussion at present but thank you for the links, pherank. My goodness.

 

I must have spent my life wandering in especially narrow cultural corriders, but Royal de Luxe is a phenomenon that I have not encountered until now.  I have the feeling that I HAVE seen the elephant, but I may be confusing memories with something inTerry Gilliam's work.  It would be wonderful to see them in real life -- to get a sense of the scale, the quality of motion, and how one sees (and does not see) the many puppeteers and their elaborate "ropes, wires, and contraptions."

 

The expressions on the faces of the on-lookers are amazing, especially in the photo in which they strain forward to pet the dog.  (More scarey is the photo of troops linking arms to hold back the crowds who push forward though only a few feet from the giant feet of the diver.)

 

There's so much physical tension in each of these photographs.  But the figures themselves -- as opposed to their surroundings -- are impassive and serene.  There's a spiritual lesson somewhere in that, but I can't figure out what it is.



#7 pherank

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 01:40 PM


There's so much physical tension in each of these photographs.  But the figures themselves -- as opposed to their surroundings -- are impassive and serene.  There's a spiritual lesson somewhere in that, but I can't figure out what it is.

 

My impressions have been very similar to yours, Bart -- I've been trying to figure out how to verbalize precisely what "art" this is. There are elements of performance art, environmental art and stagecraft in the RDL productions, but as you've noticed, there's an unusual quality to these out-of-proportion creations - people react differently to massive marionettes as compared to a typical puppet show. It's telling us something, but I haven't put my finger on just what.  ;)



#8 bart

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 05:33 PM

And that is made more complex by the fact that few in those large crowds can actually see the whole picture of the event -- i.e., what WE see when we look at photographs.  The live experience is visually more limited, but emotionally more complex and (for many whose faces are captured on film) intense. 

 

The social scientist in me wants to devise a survey and hand it out to all those  hundreds and thousands in the street.  "What did you see?  What did you feel?  What did this leave you with after it was over?"



#9 pherank

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Posted 25 September 2013 - 09:41 PM

And that is made more complex by the fact that few in those large crowds can actually see the whole picture of the event -- i.e., what WE see when we look at photographs.  The live experience is visually more limited, but emotionally more complex and (for many whose faces are captured on film) intense. 

 

The social scientist in me wants to devise a survey and hand it out to all those  hundreds and thousands in the street.  "What did you see?  What did you feel?  What did this leave you with after it was over?"

 Excellent idea, Bart, and I wonder if RDL has done any sort of survey similar to what you mention. They do have a message page on which people have left some very nice comments...

http://www.royal-de-.../messages-wall/

 

"I am 8 and I thought it was the most amazing thing ever my mummy cried but she was happy. I go to a rock climbing centre and one day I want to be a Lilliputian too…Can I?"
(presumably the Lilliputians are the marionette operators - makes sense)

"Dear Mr Courcoult and your amazing team
Thank you so much for bringing the most amazing thing I have ever seen in my life to Liverpool.  The whole weekend was magical from the moment the Uncle woke up and emerged from the Mersey to Xoxo licking bus stops and finally the beautiful reunion.  I can't describe how much excitement and joy you and your company brought to our city and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for choosing to visit us.  I love you all"

"absolutely brilliant, charming, dangerous and fun - I was a special effects supervisor in the UK for more than 30 years and your work is high class art and engineering combined, just fantastic."

"In an age of computers and everything done yesterday you stopped an entire city for 3 majestic days with a giant Punch and Judy. My children still talk about it now and amazement will be with me till the end of days."

 

I guess that means they like it.  ;)

I suppose that kind of explains why RDL do what they do - How many of us get that kind of reaction from the work that we do? It's fun to be a part of theatre.




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