“I’m almost happy,” he admits. “I’ve never actually come this close to real happiness before.”
Behind the dark glasses, you can see his eyes are sparkling. Just back from Santiago, Chile, where he showed off his amazing machines (a "little" giantess 9 meters high and a 30 tons rhino) Jean-Luc Courcoult’s mind is still full of fond memories of the trip.
For four days, 1 million Chileans watched the super show he devised for them, and fell in love with his oversized contraptions. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet even took part, donning a costume and drinking coffee with the giant marionette.
After London and Anvers, it’ll soon be Reykjavik’s turn to encounter the little giantess. The show was born in Nantes, like most of the Royal de Luxe troupe’s creations, ever since they came to stay in 1990.
Courcoult’s inventions are a labor of love, a feeling the Nantais people have returned in a big-hearted way. The first giant arrived here in 1994. Its African son, accompanied by giraffes, followed in 1998 and 2002, and were recently succeeded by the little giantess, her elephant and an Indian sultan. With each appearance, hundreds of thousands of Nantais converge on their city center to follow their favorite largerthan-life characters as they lumber through their streets.
Courcoult says the giants were inspired by Jules Verne, a local boy, who sparked a love of machines, their conception and inner workings. “What we’re inventing here is a new form of theater,” he tells you, “a story that travels across time.” Success of his new art form is based in large part on his ability to surprise and regularly renew the spectacle. Courcoult is already at work on his next creation, to be called Revolt of the Dolls. For 10 days in 2008, in the city’s shop windows, 100 mannequins, unable to bear their existence any longer, will rise in rebellion. The show promises comic effects, surrealism and poetry combined.
Will it play in Nantes? Despite his past success, Courcoult takes nothing for granted, and won’t be sure until he sees the streets lined with the crowds who have cheered his previous efforts. Those masses represent every age, social standing and walk of life Nantes can offer. Their spontaneity and participation always move him. Says the designer, “Each person comes with their own emotions, and projects them onto the machines, which brings them to life. What strikes me most are the thousands of hands that wave to the little giantess as if she could see them and communicate with them.”
Nantes has become his living laboratory. The ongoing, outdoor saga he has given his adopted city is forming a collective memory and spreading joy that’s shared by all Nantes. And who knows - it might even make Jean-Luc Courcoult completely happy one day.