14 May 2007

busy city

Now that the daylight has gone into overdrive, Reykjavík blooms with activities, people, and energy. I returned to Iceland just in time to experience the thrill of enormous French puppets traipsing through the streets of the city in a multi-day extravaganza that sprinkled itself all over the city. There are still pieces remaining, in the form of a city bus sliced half open with a knife, a car with a tree through it up near Hallgrímskirkja, another car impaled by a huge fork down by the sea, and various other cars that sustained peculiar damage from very large objects.

On Friday night, one puppet slept down by the harbor in an enormous bed. On my way to rehearsal on Saturday, I came across the other puppet asleep near the national museum, its chest heaving gently as it slept, fingers undulating slightly. On the way back from rehearsal, I joined the procession after it woke up, winding through the streets back to the harbor. These things were a marvel of engineering and human power- breathing, blinking, and walking, thanks to the airborne exertions of the dozens of puppeteers.

The troupe staging this performance, Royal de Luxe, has been putting on these large-scale theatrics for almost 30 years, but rarely abroad (says their French Wiki page), so we were particularly fortunate to witness it here. Reykjavík is a good scale for this kind of thing, since all the other elements were within easy walking distance. I hope they travel further to the west so the US can experience it, because it was one of the coolest public art performances I have seen. I loved the unexpected previews of all the mutilated cars, the enormous silverware, and the thoroughness of the younger puppet's movements (she showered! She licked lollipops!).

The weather has been agreeable of late as well. Perhaps not the warmest temperatures, but clear and golden. The cafes are at full hum, and the bike paths that interlace the city are clustered with people. This is Reykjavík at its most glorious, the time we all suffer through the gray days of January to be able to enjoy. And on that note, I'm heading out for yet another rollerblade along the topaz sea.


cK said...

Those puppets are awesome! I'm jealous, and I'm going to link to this post tomorrow.

dtw said...

Those were inspiring. We walked for the whole time with the puppets with a friend on Saturday. There was something so human in them that it was both fascinating and a little frightening.

And the band that was following them was fantastic! We were basically dancing and jamming our way forward along with the crowd masses. Lovely.

Creative Commons said...

"Giant puppets showering and licking enormous lollipops, chest heaving, car impaled, fingers undulating, with a marvel of human power, de Luxe, Royal... and French!" I am afraid they won't go west soon... It's still winter here. It will be for a while. The Potomac has been flooding again the long awaited awakening giant. It feels like mud everywhere - which I wouldn't mind if brains where impermeable.

I need to leave soon for the emerald sea of the isle. I'll wave from accross.

Anonymous said...

awesome puppets. I never imagined such a think would exist, and it's cool that they take over the town :-)

ECS said...

ck: they were pretty cool! Maybe they'll make it to the US soon too.

dtw: I totally agree about the music- it's what drew me in on my way back from rehearsal in the first place.

CC: Winter artistically or seasonally? I can imagine some places liking it, especially since there's already a bit of a tradition for huge puppets. I am, after all, from the land of Bread & Circus.

Plo: nice to see you in the comments! I've been reading your adventures diligently (via RSS, so I am one of the unseen masses). They were pretty cool, and I hope that US audiences will someday get to see them. I'm amazed they made it this far with all those huge props.