Australia has been regarded as a country that does things in a particularly large way, from rugby to the size of their Foster’s lager cans as examples. So it should come as no surprise that the city of Perth organizes one of the world’s biggest arts festivals annually. This year’s festival includes one lofty addition that has gained a good deal of attention.
The Perth International Arts Festival opens today, and the undisputed central attraction of the three-day event will be The Giants. The Giants are two massive marionettes: a little girl who checks in at 19 feet tall and a diver who stands in at over thirty feet tall in height. The two marionettes lie at the heart of a unique story put together by the French company Royal De Luxe and their artistic director, Jean-Luc Courcolt. This tale weaves together both the heritage of the city of Perth and the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings Australian and New Zealand (ANZAC) soldiers made in World War I.
The little girl is meant to be a representation of the storied young girl of Breaksea Island who waved farewell to Australian troops headed off to Gallipoli in children’s books. The little girl begins her trip throughout the streets of Perth from the city’s river edge, seated in a small boat while decked out in a raincoat. This parade began at 7:00 A.M. their time. As she sat within the boat carried by a team of 70 people, cars that drove alongside sprayed water to mimic sea spray. Another set of cars had drummers stationed atop them, their music adding more backdrop to the scene. Meanwhile, the diver marionette was resting over by the train station, set to ‘awaken’ and begin his travels on Saturday morning. The diver represents those who went underwater to retrieve the bodies of those soldiers lost off the coast of Gallipoli during the battle. In the tale, the little girl – herself a Giant because she had fallen from the sky years before – looks for the diver who has also become a Giant over time to welcome him home. The two marionettes will search for each other until their meeting on the last day of the festival, which is Sunday.
The Giants have been well-traveled, appearing at celebrations honoring the centenary of the Titanic sailing from Liverpool and at festivities marking the fall of the Berlin Wall. In conjunction with the local government, directors at the Perth International Arts Festival have made sure that as the Giants walk through the city’s central business district that many can see them and not have to worry about traffic. More about the giants and other information can be found on PIAF’s website.