- Date: 5 April 2012
- Region: North West
Sea Odyssey. Credit: courtesy of Liverpool City Council
Anticipation is already mounting around what will be one of the biggest street theatre spectaculars in the whole of the UK this year and which will take place in Liverpool from 20-22 April, marking the centenary of the colossal construction and dramatic disaster of the massive Titanic ocean liner in 1912.
In Sea Odyssey, the celebrated thirty-foot tall Giant Little Girl (who first made an appearance in the UK with The Sultan's Elephant in London in 2006) will be towered over by her fifty-foot tall Giant Uncle (whose appearance shall remain a tantalising mystery until nearer the time) in a moving and breathtaking super-sized marionette show on the streets of central Liverpool and in some of the suburbs to the north. Sea Odyssey has been commissioned by Liverpool City Council to mark the city’s special place in the legendary story of the iconic ship.
Sea Odyssey is an enchanting and moving story of how the human spirit could triumph over tragedy. One of the most complex events the city has ever staged, the visually stunning spectacle will involve hundreds of people in its planning and execution and is set to attract perhaps a quarter of a million visitors to the city. Members of the public have been given the chance to be part of the show as volunteers, some of them even operating the huge machinery which animates the gigantic marionettes.
The story around why the two giants are here is secret until a few weeks before the event. However, the creators have promised a moving story of love, loss, family and emotion which reaches across the decades to celebrate feeling, humanity and love. Though not intended to be a factual re-telling of the Titanic story, it will take audiences on an emotional journey through Liverpool’s maritime history via the love of a father and daughter – with the city’s streets as the stage.
Liverpool City Council has been in talks since 2006 about how to bring this coup to the city, following a visit to Liverpool by Jean-Luc Courcoult, the Artistic Director and founder of celebrated and world-renowned massive-scale French street theatre company Royal De Luxe. While here, Jean-Luc was inspired by an emotional letter he read in the Mersyside Maritime Museum, written by a young girl whose father was a steward on the tragic maiden voyage of the Titanic. As a result, Liverpool’s ‘Sea Odyssey’ was born.
Liverpool City Council, with partners, brought the giant spider to Liverpool’s city centre during its capital of culture year in 2008. With Sea Odyssey, for the first time in the city’s event history, around half the action will focus on North Liverpool, with the stars of the show wandering around areas including Stanley Park, Walton Lane, Vauxhall Road, Everton, and Anfield. It is hoped that Sea Odyssey will be a transformational event for this part of the city, beginning to showcase the potential development and investment opportunities in an area which faces some of the greatest health and social inequalities in the country. The event forms part of the Liverpool Plan which aims to change perceptions of the city and to bring partners together to promote Liverpool in a positive light. It is estimated the event will attract an audience of around 250,000, and as a result engender pride among local residents, inspire creativity, and build community cohesion. It should be a shining beacon of Liverpudlian pride and togetherness.
Funding will be a mixture of public and private investment. We have invested nearly £200,000 in Sea Odyssey through our National Lottery funded Grants for the arts scheme. Other sources of support include the European Regional Development Fund, and Sea Odyssey is the final event which will use European legacy funding from the city’s Capital of Culture year in 2008.
Liverpool City Council leader, Councillor Joe Anderson, said: "Sea Odyssey will be a seminal event for the city and a staggering piece of theatre, the likes of which many people will never have seen before and will once again showcase Liverpool’s outstanding credentials when it comes to mass participation, outdoor events. The air of mystery surrounding the event is only adding to the anticipation."
Jane Beardsworth, Regional Director of Arts Council England, commented: "We are very happy to be supporting this event and enabling this world renowned company to bring their work to Liverpool.
"We applaud Liverpool City Council's vision and ambition in recognising the benefits that the arts can deliver to communities and to the economy and we are pleased to be working in partnership with them to ensure those ambitions are realised.
"Liverpool is at the forefront of outdoor performance events in the UK and Sea Odyssey promises to be an extraordinary, spectacular and - given the links to the Titanic anniversary - moving experience."
The action starts at Stanley Park at 10am on Friday 20 April 2012.