ROYAL de Luxe - and specifically its creative force Jean Luc Courcoult - have been to Limerick several times on scouting missions to establish the ‘Limerick story’ for the Giant’s Journey.
The story is set, with the theme that the Grandmother has “fallen from the galaxy, into a field in Munster”, and, having been cared for in the countryside, has been sent by train to Limerick.
Courcoult explained: “As soon as she arrived at the railway station, she was greeted by thousands of people, who had come from all over Ireland. As her language was even more incomprehensible than the most ancient form of Gaelic, a translator who had some knowledge of the language, was located.
“By chance, her personal safe, which had fallen from the sky onto a car in town, which contained the memories of Limerick, enabling her to tell the legends of stories of great battles, endured in past centuries, that had fallen into oblivion a long time ago.”
The woman tasked with managing this giant logistical undertaking is Iseult Byrne, project director for City of Culture.
She has lived, slept and breathed this project for months, particularly in the last weeks and days, with Royal de Luxe rehearsing intensively here.
“Royal de Luxe have been coming to Limerick on repeated visits, technical visits, research visits - they have been in Limerick a lot,” she says.
“They love the city, they have had a great time when they visited, but have also worked very hard, they have met with historians and playwrights and archivists.
“The people of Limerick that they have met, some of them in bars and restaurants, some on the street - to just learn more about Ireland, about Limerick, not just its history because it is not a historical show, but just its influences.
“The idea behind the whole thing is that the Giant comes to town and visits a city like anybody would normally visit - so the Giant is walking around the roads and visiting things that we would see as well,” said Iseult. “We have said it all along, Limerick is the smallest city that the Giant - any giant - has ever been in to.
“I think we are in a situation where we are doing a bit more lapping than we would do in bigger cities, but it is very exciting that the Giant is coming down and around O’Connell Street and up to the Barracks.”
Included in the show is a massive truck with huge speakers that blast out the specially composed soundtrack.
At various points the Granny will stop to interact with the crowd, to spit, to fart - vanilla essence - and to wee on the street!
She is propelled by an army of Lilliputians, and the idea is both that the watching crowds will forget that they, and yet also that they will be distracted by their theatricality interwoven into a specially tailored story fabricated for each city’s performance.
“We are wearing bright red, and are shouting, but we still get people to this day saying ‘so how does she move’? You still get it, even though we are really visible,” says Margot Courcoult, Jean-Luc’s daughter.
“I think it is something - because we are not trying to hide it, you sort of forget that. And also, to give a puppet its soul, you have to take the soul of all the operators and I think it is one of the reasons the giants are so powerful.
“So it is really something that is important that we are shouting and are present, but yet you almost don’t see us.”
Actors Meg Hennessy and Louie Lovett will play key roles, while 12 ‘Irish Lilliputians’ have been recruited.
A number of local musicians are also involved: Cathal Clohessy, Denis Carey, Catherine Clohessy, Éamonn Costello and Eoin Coughlan.
“It is a privilege for us as musicians to perform with Royal de Luxe,” they said.
“This is an experience we all agree is one that will be to the fore of our musical journeys. It is compliment for any musician to be considered for such a role and we are relishing the opportunity to bring our music to the Irish and international audience that witness the extravaganza.”
The stage is set, it should be a Giant show that creates a lot of memories.