I think Danny Boyle at the Opening Ceremony created a new genre – called ‘Epicality’. He managed to show the UK with its authenticity and detail, on an epic scale. The imagery will stay with me for a long time.
I was thrilled that he used theatre and performance as the way to communicate. The Victorian pioneer Brunel was played by Kenneth Branagh, who in the spirit of anachronism, recited the great speech of Caliban’s from The Tempest which talks of dreams:
And it was in the spirit of dreams and imagination that Boyle got us to the truth of the event. In the country scenes where small groups of people ‘acted out’ how life used to be, we got to know ourselves again as a nation – where we’ve been, where we are going.
The Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Martin Roth, commented that Boyle needs to be congratulated on his risk taking because risk taking is a venture into the unknown. It is often the unknown that rewards and that takes us into a more truthful realm than the so-called known.
Akram Khan, who had a powerful dance slot during the ceremony, talks about the stage as a place for unmasking. It is a place to be truthful, to be oneself (I note the winner of ITV’s ‘Superstar’, Ben Forster, was told by Andrew Lloyd Webber that he was a great actor but had the rare talent of being himself at the same time – a quality needed I think to make the stage, especially as the character of Jesus).
The Movement Director of the Ceremony, Tony Sedgwick, said to the volunteers ‘You must never show what you are doing, you must just BE it.’ And I think that goes for the whole event – volunteers from all walks of life came out to showcase the UK – through the genre of performance. And that genre gave them permission to take risks which made for a very real and meaningful event. It started the journey for all the sports women and men taking part – to take risks and be truly who you can be.
Danny Boyle should be saluted as ‘going for gold’ for the human spirit.