22 April 2012

Sea Odyssey - Giant Expectations for Liverpool

Friday 20 April saw a weekend long Sea Odyssey street theater event in Liverpool in the north of England.  The occasion was inspired by a letter written by a little girl to her father. He was a steward above the ill fated RMS Titanic which was registered in Liverpool.

The steward, William McMurray was not one of the lucky passengers and crew who survived the sinking of the ship.  The letter arrived after the Titanic had left on its first and final voyage and was eventually returned to his daughter. Sea Odyssey re-invents this sad tale with the girl (known as Little Girl Giant) traversing the streets of Liverpool on an undertaking.

She is in Liverpool to find out news of her father from her uncle who has taken it upon himself to dive to the wreck of the ship. While he goes to the depths she can do little but wait - and then wander in search of him when he does not show up.

While she awaits news, she does at least have company in the shape of her pet dog. He's a rather cheeky looking boy!

All told the giant marionettes have moved more than 40 kilometers through Liverpool since the event began.Yet none of this would be possible without the hugely skilled team of puppeteers who use their immense experience to breathe life in to their wards.

The vast models are the brainchild of Royal de Luxe which is based in Nantes, France. They got together with Liverpool City Council to organize this extraordinary commemoration of the centenary of the Titanic disaster. The Little Girl Giant is 9 meters high (that’s 30 feet) and her uncle is 15 meters (50 feet).

Over 100,000 people have so far lined the streets of Liverpool to watch the extraordinary journey take place. Sea Odyssey is the last event to make use of European legacy support from the Liverpool Capital of Culture year in 2008. It may be the final occasion that an event in the city is orchestrated as a result of the European funding it received four years ago but is just another example of the ability of a city once written off by politicians to re-invent itself.

Certainly the size of the marionettes could be seen as a visual metaphor for the cultural renaissance of Liverpool over recent years. What once appeared to be lost is found. Yet will the Little Girl Giant and her uncle be reunited? This titanic story has, at least, a happy ending. Here is the moment when they are finally reunited.

First Image Credit Corky Wirral