I have looked forward to the world premiere of devised theatre company Ghost River Theatre’s Giant since I first heard about this latest epic by award-winning collaborators Eric Rose and David Van Belle. A boisterous alternative to the traditional biopic, the show tracks the life of wrestler André the Giant from his discovery in France to his rise to stardom in the early Coke- and cable-fueled days of the World Wrestling Federation, simultaneously examining his struggles with gigantism and otherness.
True to their aesthetically-driven points of view, the creators invite audiences to experience the spectacle and raw physicality of a wrestling match during the show. They masterfully integrate stunning imagery, as well as animated objects in an exploration of scale in composition. Calgary’s strong wrestling and puppetry cultures - unlikely bedfellows - will be merged!
During the process of working through André’s life and the hyper-masculine world of professional wrestling, it became apparent that a female lens, including the narrational perspective of André’s daughter, would best capture a multiplex view of André’s extraordinary life. Ultimately, Giant casts five female actors.
Recipient of a Canada Council New Chapter grant, Giant is the third GRT production in a loose trilogy, so to speak, of epic storytelling exploring ambition, tragic flaws, and what it means to be extraordinary, by Rose and Van Belle – following The Highest Step in the World and The Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst. Anticipation of Giant within the theatre community is evidenced by the many presenters trekking to Calgary to see it and the keen previews appearing in local publications – here are a couple which highlight different aspects of Giant:
Ghost River Theatre’s Giant runs March 12-24 at the Grand Theatre in Calgary, presented by the Festival of Animated Objects.