¨¨¨°º the adventures of choklit chanteuse º°¨¨¨


Le Scaphandrier ~ The Giant Diver

I'm thoroughly enraptured by the work of French performance art and puppetry troupe Royal de Luxe. Their May 2006 performance in London, The Sultan's Elephant, was nothing short of genius ~ I can't even imagine the glory of being in attendance at the event, which included a little girl Giantess, a wooden rocket-ship, and a 50-ton mechanical elephant.

Photo by cocobeloeil

And now I've just heard that they've done it again... Writer R.J. Evans posted a blog about a new performance that took place starting June 6th in Nantes ~ the birthplace of Jules Verne ~ that involved a giant deep-sea diver, Le Scaphandrier in French.

Photo by chilirv

I've always been a lover of puppets and marionettes, so to see a 30-foot-tall diver hauled out of the water by a team of frock-coated puppeteers, and then sent out adventuring, just blisses me out.

Photo by Stéfan Le Dû

And there's a beautiful and complex mythology, too, for these amazingly emotive characters, that's been unfolding around Europe for years in various performances - about how the Diver is searching for his niece the Little Giantess, a character from the Sultan's Elephant performance. With the help of Google's nifty translation engine, you can read more about the back-story on Stéfan Le Dû's blog.

Photo by Stéfan Le Dû

The company is rather mysterious and rarely releases information before a performance, adding to the intrigue. But you can find some jaw-dropping YouTube videos, along with a Flickr pool filled with lovely images from the performance.

Photo by Stéfan Le Dû

It's one of those things that makes me happy to be alive, that there are people out there creating such things. We humans may be making war, and reality TV shows, but we're also making street spectacles with grand mechanical creatures, simply for the sake of wonder and magic and art.

Photo ©2009 by Stéphane Lerouge ~ Nantes

Also keep an eye out for the off-shoot company of brilliant fabricators La Machine. They built the original sultan's elephant, and they were also the ones who sent a massive wooden and steel mechanical spider called La Princesse marauding around Liverpool in a post-apocalyptic frenzy, to the delight of onlookers, for week in September 2008 before moving on to Yokohama.

Photo ©2009 by Charlie Charlton

La Machine also built the permanent exhibition Machines of the Isle of Nantes at its workshop, which is open to the public, features the elephant giving rides, and includes a mechanical squid.

Glorious. Simply glorious.


Myke Amend said...

That would certainly be the most incredible show ever.

This just goes to show, the further you get from the midwestern states, the more awesome things are.

squadratomagico said...

I've seen videos of their work before and find it so incredibly inspirational. Wish I'd been able to see the elephant! So amazing!

One of the members of my circus-cum-performance-art troupe is a professional crafter of giant puppets, so we use them often in our shows. But they're nothing near that kind of scale -- ours usually take only 3 people to operate.

Sarah Dungan said...

I had heard rumors....but OH the photographs. I may need to go on a quest to meet the creator of the giant puppet squid.

Hexotica said...

wow I had never heard of these..how amazing! you cover the most extraordinary things! I get excited everytime I see you have a new post!

Lexie said...

I fucking love your blog. What a truly fantastic thing, thank you so much for sharing this.

And if you like marionettes, I highly recommend the children's book, "Poppy's Puppet". The illustrations are to die for, and I think, pretty steampunky. The story is wonderful as well. It just might be my all time favorite.

Pamela said...

I have loved everything I have seen from these folks! Thanks, darling Choklit, for putting them together into this lovely collection. And I agree with Indy about the squid! ;)

Dr Chewbacca said...

Great article !
A few things I can add :
- a direct link to the automatic translation of the Scaphandrier's backstory
- "Télé Nantes" (local tv channel) made a 52min video about the event. They're covering the 3 days of the event and show images of the most important moments. The only problem is that the comments are in French... You can see it here.
- the squid at the Machines of the Isle of Nantes is actually a part of a future merry-go-round which will have 3 levels (one of which should be underground) and should features 30 creatures or marine vehicles. Details here, but in French again...

PS: I'm Stefan from Flickr

Karin Alisa said...

Thank you ever so much for sharing this magic. I feel transported, lost in time and space; transformed, a lilliputian.
The worlds that you live in and lovingly share here are nothing short of surreal bliss.

squadratomagico said...

Some friends of mine just altered the dates of their tickets to Berlin this Fall in order to be able to see the next performance of these puppets. I can't wait to see pix!

. c h o k l i t . said...

Squadratomagico.... SWEET! Please tell me when they have pictures! How did they even know there was an upcoming performance in Berlin? I wonder if the calendar is posted secretly somewhere...