Jean Luc Courcoult will receive the highest accolade Liverpool can bestow
The creative director who wowed over three million people with Sea Odyssey, Memories of August 1914 and - the final act of the Giants trilogy - Liverpool’s Dream will receive a Freedom of the City honour at St George’s Hall this Thursday for ‘his outstanding contribution to the city’.
At the same time, the Nantes-based company he founded, Royal de Luxe, will be admitted to the Freedom Roll of Associations and Institutions.
The honour comes following last October’s Liverpool’s Dream event, which has been hailed as the region’s biggest and most successful-ever free event, attracting 1.3 million people and generating £60.6m for local economies.
The Giants’ third and final ever appearance last October saw the enormous marionettes (some as high as fifteen metres) roam the streets of both Liverpool and Wirral, manoeuvred by their army of puppeteer ‘Lilliputians’. Rapt audiences enjoyed the antics of the Little Boy Giant, the Giant, Xolo and marvelled at a surprise visit from the Little Girl Giant; with many describing the experience as highly emotional.
Jean Luc said: “I am touched and overwhelmed by this recognition. Liverpool holds a very special place in my heart. Audiences embraced our Giant family, and there was no other city where we wanted to do the final-ever show.
“I would like to thank the Mayor and the council for giving myself and Royal de Luxe this accolade - it is a career highlight and a memory I will treasure for years to come.”
Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “Seeing first-hand the impact of a major cultural event on people who live, work and visit this great city is always truly humbling. On three occasions, Royal de Luxe and the creative genius that is Jean Luc brought our city to an awe-struck standstill. The Giant family became part of our family - we welcomed them into our communities, explored city streets alongside them, cried with them and laughed with them.
“This city shone under the international spotlight and the Freedom accolade is a chance for us to say thank you for transforming our streets and transporting an audience of millions to a magical world with this world-class art.”
Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Christine Banks, said: “As First Citizen, I am massively proud to award the Freedom to both Jean Luc and Royal de Luxe. The creativity they have brought to our streets since 2012 is unforgettable – they have touched the lives of millions of people and been responsible for images of our city being beamed around the world.”
Liverpool and the Giant Spectaculars
Royal de Luxe first came to the city in 2012 with Sea Odyssey, a story inspired by the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic. The adventures of the Little Girl Giant, her playful canine companion Xolo and the Diver attracted crowds of around 800,000 and brought in £32 million to the local economy.
The Little Girl and Xolo returned in July 2014 for Memories of August 1914. This time they were joined by a Grandmother, whose stories brought to life the impact of preparations of the First World War had on the city. It is widely regarded as the city’s biggest ever event, attracting one million people and bringing a £46 million boost to the local economy.
The Giants made their final return to Liverpool last autumn in Liverpool’s Dream; an event supported by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and Arts Council England. This marked their final ever appearance after decades of globetrotting since 1993.
The Hearts of Giants, a limited edition souvenir book chronicling the Giants’ life is now available.
Royal de Luxe
Royal de Luxe is considered the world’s leading street theatre company. Founded in 1979 by Jean-Luc Courcoult and based in Nantes, the company is seen as a pioneer creating original theatrical forms. His ethos was that theatre should be accessible to all ages and should be free. Royal de Luxe is now acknowledged ‘National Company’ by the French Ministry of Culture.
The company has played in front of more than 24 million spectators; with around 1,500 shows in more than 172 cities, in 40 countries across five continents. Find out more about its story on the website.
While the Giants are now retired, Royal de Luxe is looking to work on new and different projects in the future.