Share Your Story contest: Jeannette Winner of Week 9!
Congratulations to Jeannette for talking about her time in the city of Nantes where she discovered the spectacular Giants of Royal de Luxe, a world-famous French marionette street theatre company.
My junior year in college, I spent seven months as an international student in Nantes, France at the École de Design Nantes Atlantique studying Industrial Design. Having prior education in the language, I was placed in a curriculum taught entirely in French, which helped me improve my French language and challenged me in the culture.
The culture of Nantes is one of the most colorful and artistic societies I have ever encountered. The city is known for being the greenest city of France and for their love of puppetry. Spring of 2011, I was lucky enough to witness one of the grandest spectacles of public theater, the Royal de Luxe.
The Royal de Luxe is an international traveling street performance based in Nantes. That year, the street performers were inspired to create two new characters influenced by the culture of Mexico. They had built a puppet named Le Géant de Guadalajara and his dog El Xolo, a Mexican dog-god, who were featured with a past character La Petite Géante.
Each character was introduced in a very particular way. With advertisement plastered all over the city, the people of Nantes were expecting the puppets to make an entrance but not quite the way that they anticipated. The first puppet to arrive was La Petite Géante. She appeared on one of the main streets near the city center having “fallen from the sky” and “hit” by a public transit bus. This was a sign that the performance date was approaching. The second puppet, El Xolo, was encased in a giant block of ice placed in front of the steps of the Cathédrale Saint Pierre et Saint Paul in the center of the city square. It would take a three days time for the ice to melt and for El Xolo to “wake up”. Lastly, a mural depicting the story of the puppets also “fell from the sky”, near the ports of Nantes on the opening date of the event.
The day of the event was magical. A container ship arrived at the main port of Nantes and a large shipping container was lifted onto shore. The puppeteers erected the shipping container vertically and used a large crane to reveal Le Géant de Guadalajara. 600,000 spectators flooded the streets of Nantes for a day to walk beside the giants.
This day will forever be ingrained in my mind. Royal de Luxe became a big influence on my career path. With a passion for building and street performance, this experience led me to pursue my current position as Assistant Arts Administrator at Opera-Matic. A Chicago theater and installation group bringing moving visual art to the streets.
Jeannette (Chicago, Illinois)
Jeannette and her international group of friends (from left to right) from Australia, France, Chile, England, Spain, Italy, Lithuania, Canada and America.
Viktorija Todorovska, Wine Instructor, French Wine Scholar & Sommelier, presents Jeannette with her prize, a bottle of 2011 Pernand-Vergelesses - Grand Vin de Bourgogne from the Château de Pommard, Pommard France and her latest book "Provence Food and Wine: The Art of Living."
• Tourism in France: go to rendezvousenfrance.com