September 23, 2009 / 10:55 AM / 9 years ago

Giant puppets to tell tale of German reunification

BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - Giant puppets up to 15 meters (50 feet) tall will roam the streets of Berlin at the start of October to enact a fairytale based on German reunification.

French street theater company Royal de Luxe will perform “The Reunion of Berlin” between October 1 and 4 as the two puppets, which weigh 2.5 tonnes each and are taller than a house, go in search of each other on the capital’s boulevards.

Organisers hope the extravaganza, which costs around 1.6 million euros, will draw more than a million spectators.

“We wanted to bring something extraordinary to Berlin for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Wall,” said Joachim Sartorius, chairman of the Berliner Festspiele organisers.

A giant girl marionette will awake outside the city’s town hall in the former East on October 2. The next day her uncle will emerge from the river Spree in the western part of the city dressed as a deep sea diver.

Both puppets will wander past historical landmarks in search of each other before being symbolically reunited at the Brandenburg Gate on October 3 — German Unity Day.

“It’s a story for the heart and at the same time a story for mankind,” Jean Luc Courcoult, the company’s founder, told a news conference, clad in a pink jacket and outsize glasses.

Up to 52 helpers on the ground and in cranes control the movements of the lifelike models via a complex system of pulleys. The giant puppets, made of steel, wood and horse hair can dance, blink, roll their eyes and even breathe.

The girl will also carry a post sack containing letters and postcards written during the Cold War that were intercepted and read by the former East German communist secret police.

Organizers have been planning the mammoth spectacle for three years. Hundreds of workers will be on hand to help the giants on their way.

Royal de Luxe, founded by Courcoult in 1979, has staged previous spectacles in London and Santiago de Chile. The company is currently rehearsing behind closed doors in an old airline hanger at the Berlin’s former Tempelhof airport.

Editing by Steve Addison

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