The Tempest, by William Shakespeare, will provide the creative storm for the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games this July, Danny Boyle, the Oscar-winning director, told the media today.
A speech by the monster Caliban from the British bard's 400-year-old play will form the basis for the £27 million Olympic ceremony. Boyle described the speech as "one of the most beautiful" written by Shakespeare, who created Caliban as a creature who believed he, and not the resident magician Prospero, was rightful ruler of a mystical island.
Caliban's speech, from Act 3, Scene 2 of The Tempest featured in the 2010 film The King's Speech, an Oscar-winning production in which Lionel Logue, King George VI's speech therapist, recited it to his children.
The Opening Ceremony will start with the ringing of a giant 27-ton bell, the biggest in Europe. It is being built by Whitechapel Bell Foundry of Tower Hamlets, a company listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest manufacturing company in Britain. Indeed, the firm dates back to 1420, nearly 200 years before Shakespeare penned The Tempest.
"You sit there when you start this process and you think, 'What is unique about us?'...and you're trying to capture some of that," Boyle told reporters at the media briefing. "When you see it it will make sense, I promise."
London had a tough task on its hands when it came to matching the spectacular Opening Ceremony staged at the Beijing Olympics four years ago, Boyle said. He avoided noting that his production will not require legions of military personnel to wear giant nappies because they would be trapped in places where they had no access to a toilet for long periods of time for the sake of ceremony.
"You are standing on the shoulder of giants when you do this kind of job because you cannot but live in the shadow of your predecessors," said Boyle.
Praising Beijing and Athens, Boyle said that he would take his cue from the 2000 Games in Sydney, where all things Australian were represented at the Ceremony. "Sydney has inspired us, because Sydney got the feel of a people's Games right," Boyle noted.
More than 10,000 performers have already been recruited for the Ceremonies and more are being sought, up to a wish list that extends to 80,000. Up to 900 children, aged seven to 13, from the local Olympic Host Boroughs of London will also feature in the Opening and Closing.
Organisers hope to keep the opening down to three hours of show, but the speeches and walk-past of athletes are likely to keep the clock ticking, while athletes in the stadium will be looking at three hours or more on their feeds the day before battle begins, a fact that will keep the bulk of swimmers with a shot at the podium away from the pomp in readiness for the plunge the next morning.