“The body of the wrestler, like a seed, contains the whole fight.” - ROLAND BARTHES: From “The World of Wrestling” (1957)
From the minds behind The Highest Step in the World, Tomorrow’s Child and The Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst comes a new show of epic proportions. GIANT is the amazing story of professional wrestler André the Giant, one of the most recognizable and beloved public figures ever, told from the perspective of the one person he left behind.
Packed with captivating imagery, animated objects, and the raw spectacle of a wrestling match, GIANT unfolds as a boisterous alternative to the traditional bio-pic. A cast of five women tells the story with a raucous high theatricality that bodyslams professional wrestling’s hyper-masculine culture. Ghost River’s trademark collaborative approach to theatre means that design, direction, script and performance all work together to stage an unstageable protagonist (7’4” and 520 pounds!), using the language of theatrical scale to express the extraordinary life of a person of extraordinary size.
GIANT makes full use of the inherent theatricality of professional wrestling, bringing an audience ringside while they simultaneously discover the details of André’s giant-sized life. The show traces his discovery in France by Québécois promoter Frank Valois, his early days at the Montréal Forum and his rise to superstardom in the coke-and-cable-tv-fuelled early days of the World Wrestling Federation. It also examines his struggles with acromegaly—a form of gigantism that made him a spectacle, destroyed his body, and drove him to alcoholism and an early death.
Created in a city with deep roots in the culture of professional wrestling, GIANT is a show designed to engage both wrestling aficionados and those who knew him only as the beloved giant Fezzik in Rob Reiner’s classic film, The Princess Bride.
Oh, and there’s also the true story of him being driven to school as a boy by Samuel Beckett.
Proud recipient of the New Chapter grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.
Premiered in Calgary at the Grand Theatre as part of the Festival of Animated Objects March 12-24th, 2019.
Co-Creators / Playwrights: David van Belle and Eric Rose
Director: Eric Rose
Stage Manager: Sara Turner
Assistant Stage Manager: Meredith Johnson
Dramaturg: Vicki Stroich
Puppet / Set Designer: Robert Leveroos
Sound / Lighting Designer: Anton deGroot
Costume Designer: Patrick Du Wors
Fight Director / Wrestling Choreographer: Brianna Johnston
Puppet Consultant / Coach: Peter Balkwill
Apprentice Director: Lindsey Zess-Funk
Production Manager and Technical Director: Marc Lavallee
Puppet Builder: Stephanie Elgersma
Puppet Builder: Juanita Dawn
70’s Strut Choreographer: Deanne Walsh
Photos by Tim Nguyen / Citrus Photography
Additional Credits for the May 2018 Workshop:
Production Manager and Technical Director: Thomas Geddes
Stage Manager: Beth Grieve
Assistant Stage Manager: Michael Luong
Lighting Programmer / Operator / Crew: Patrick Fitzsimmons
GRT Artistic Intern / Graphic Design: Savanna Harvey
Puppet Builder Intern: Andy Brown
Special Thanks to the Calgary Boxing Club