by Tim Ghianni
Things were looking up in Berlin as residents celebrated the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the Berlin Wall with an enormously entertaining bit of street theater.
The Berlin Reunion – A Giant’s Tale played out over four days as two massive marionettes walked through the once divided city. It was a heart-tugging story of a man and his niece, separated by a wall for many years, finally seeing the wall crumble and reuniting. Thirty members of France’s Royal de Luxe street theater troupe took their places on a crane and on foot to maneuver the heavy wire cables of the 50-foot, 2.5-ton Big Giant through the streets. The Little Giantess, a mere 25 feet tall had 22 manipulators.
The Little Giantess traveled through Checkpoint Charlie — the iconic and formerly armed gateway between the two halves of the city — and visited the spot where the Nazis had book-burnings. When The Big Giant was raised by the wire-pullers from the River Spree, he was near the spot where a 24-year-old East Berliner was shot in 1961 as he tried to swim to freedom.
The drama ended with the marionettes meeting and hugging at the monumental Brandenburg Gate, which was off-limits to East and West while the Wall stood.
More than 1.5 million Berliners watched the tall tale unfold, reacting with (naturally) very big smiles.