The Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics is set to begin in London at 9:00 p.m. (3:00 p.m. in Jamaican 4:00 p.m. in the Eastern Caribbean). The production led by artistic director Danny Boyle and his team is inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest and will tell the story of a land recovering from its industrial legacy and looking to the future. The show which will be broadcast to an estimated four billion people “salutes and celebrates the exuberant creativity of the British genius in an Opening Ceremony that we hope will be as unpredictable and inventive as the British people”. Says Doyle.
START TIME: 9pm
END TIME: Midnight
RUNNING TIME: Two and a half to three hours
CAST: 15,000 performers – including 1,650 children from 25 schools in east London
NUMBER OF COSTUMES: 25,000
WORLDWIDE TV AUDIENCE: 4 billion (estimated)
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire)
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CEREMONIES: Steven Daldry (Billy Elliot)
DIRECTOR: Kim Gavin (Take That’s stadium shows)
MUSICAL DIRECTORS: Karl Hyde and Rick Smith of the electronic duo Underworld
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mark Fisher (stage sets for Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and U2)
CARRIBBEAN COUNTRIES IN 2012 OLYMPICS: Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, the BVI, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago,
Here is a description of what to expect at tonight’s (today for us on this side of the world) Opening Ceremony dubbed ISLES OF WONDER:
Act One: Green and Pleasant
At 9pm – moved forward from the original, and some might say apt, time of 20.12 as Boyle wanted the ceremony to be dark from the very beginning – Daniel Craig, the James Bond star (or a stunt man in his place) will abseil into the stadium out of a helicopter, and a 27-tonne bell will be rung to signal the start of the ceremony. The bell is inscribed with a quotation from The Tempest: “Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises”. Kenneth Branagh will then read extracts from the play.
A stage backdrop of hills, streams, meadows and a thatched cottage will evoke Britain’s rural past. The landscape will be dotted with live animals, including 12 horses, three cows, 70 sheep, three sheepdogs and a horse-drawn plough, along with milkmaids, picnicking families, an Edwardian village cricket team in flannels, caps and braces, and people dancing around maypoles.
At one end of the arena will be a recreation of Glastonbury Tor, with an oak tree on top and a festival “mosh pit” at its foot. At the other end will be a space for crowds recreating the Last Night of the Proms.
Boyle suggested he might even create artificial rain clouds for special effect, though these may prove unnecessary.
Background music is likely to include “Land of Hope and Glory”, The Jam’s “Going Underground”, and Chariots of “Fire by Vangelis”.
Act Two: Dark Satanic Mills
The arena is then expected to be transformed into a vision of the industrial revolution – the “dark Satanic mills” of one interpretation of William Blake’s Jerusalem – with performers dressed as weavers, miners, steel workers and engineers recreating the era when Britain was the workshop of the world.
Music is likely to include Lionel Bart’s “Food Glorious Food”, the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction”, and the Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant”
Act Three: Towards The Future
It is understood a third “act” of the ceremony will look at the post-war transformation of Britain, with models of Big Ben and other London landmarks, and a parade of dancing nurses and ancillary staff pushing hospital beds to represent the NHS and the Welfare State. Performers, musicians, actors and trapeze artists will celebrate our vibrant creative traditions. Dancers dressed in Sgt Pepper-style uniforms will stage a tribute to the Beatles. Members of the London Rollergirls and London Rockin’ Rollers roller derby teams and burlesque dancer Persephone Rex, 22, are among those taking part, alongside 12,000 dancers, drummers, skateboarders, acrobats, and actors dressed as British historical figures, such as Emmeline Pankhurst, the suffragette, and the Caribbean migrants who arrived on the Empire Windrush in 1948.
Other performers will evoke the multicultural face of the UK, as well as recent political upheavals, such as anti-bomb marches and industrial disputes.
Music is likely to include Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” and Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie.”
Short films will be screened showing children from Edinburgh’s Broomhouse Estate singing Flower of Scotland, a choir from England performing “Jerusalem”, Only Kids Aloud singing Cwm Rhondda, and a choir from Northern Ireland singing “Danny Boy”.
Sir Paul McCartney will end the opening ceremony.
The show will be followed by the traditional elements of the Games’ Opening Ceremony:
Receiving the Head of State
The Queen, as head of state of the host country, will be received at the entrance of the Stadium by the President of the IOC, Jacques Rogge.
March of the Athletes
The teams from the competing nations will enter in alphabetical order, apart from the Greek team, who will enter first and the team of the Team GB, who, as the host nation, march in last. The teams will parade round the arena, along an oval “M25” track. Among those carrying their nation’s flag will be Maria Sharapova, the Russian tennis player and former Wimbledon champion; the South African runner, Caster Semenya; and Laura Flessel-Colovic, the French fencer.
Speeches, Olympic Anthem and Flag, Oaths
Lord Coe, the Chairman of Locog, will give a speech, followed by Mr Rogge, after which they will invite the Queen, as head of state, to officially declare the Games open. The Olympic Flag will then be carried into the stadium and hoisted as the respective anthem is played.
A participating athlete, judge and coach from the host nation will stand on the rostrum and, holding a corner of the IOC flag in their left hand and raising their right, take the Olympic oath, vowing to compete and judge according to the rules of their respective sport.
The Lighting of the Cauldron
The Olympic Flame will be carried into the stadium and passed through the athletes to the final torchbearer – whose identity remains secret – who will light the Cauldron, indicating the start of the Games. This will be followed by a spectacular fireworks display and the final ringing of the bell, to signify peace.
The Guest List
The guest list for the Opening Ceremony includes some of the world’s biggest celebrities as well as more than 120 heads of state, in what will be the biggest gathering of national leaders ever held in Britain.
Michelle Obama, with her daughters Sasha and Malia, will lead the US delegation. It is not yet known if Mr Obama will attend as well.
Also taking their seats in the 80,000-capacity stadium will be Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian prime minister, and Yoshihiko Noda, the Japanese prime minister.
The cream of European royalty will also attend including Prince Albert of Monaco, who competed in the bobsledding event at five Winter Olympics, and his wife Princess Charlene of Monaco, who swam for South Africa in the 2000 Games, as well as Queen Sofia of Spain, who cancelled her appearance at a recent Jubilee lunch following a diplomatic row over Gibraltar.
Swaziland’s King Mswati III is almost certain to be there along with at least one of his 13 wives. However, Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has chosen not to attend, in a move that has infuriated the nation’s sports officials.
Every living former British prime minister has been invited, with Sir John Major and Tony Blair expected to attend. But outranking them all will be The Queen who will officially open the Games. Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, along with Prince Harry, are also expected in their role as 2012 Ambassadors for the British Olympic Association.
Among big showbiz names will be Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, David Beckham, who was among the ambassadors for the British bid to stage the Games in 2005, and Dames Helen Mirren and Judi Dench.
The number of heads of state expected to attend London 2012 will far outstrip the 82 presidents, kings, queens and sheikhs who went to the Beijing Games in 2008, and the 48 who travelled to Athens in 2004.
Caribbean heads of state of course are expected to be present especially Jamaica’s Portia Simpson-Miller whose team of sprinters comprises some of the games most talked about athletes.
By Patrick Sawer and Clare Duffin with additional reporting by Victoria Biscomb
Via [UK Telegraph]