Olympic officials struggling to keep details under wraps
LONDON – The London Olympics opening ceremony will be a grand spectacle – but will it be a surprise?
In a word, no.
Director Danny Boyle wants the details to stay secret and games chief Sebastian Coe has pleaded for insiders to stop leaking details of the extravaganza. But in the age of camera phones and social media, with 10,000 performers in the ceremony, thousands of Olympic security and staff and more than 10,000 journalists already at the Olympic Park, not much can be kept out of the public domain.
“Part of the modern world means you can’t really do that,” Boyle acknowledged about keeping secrets as he showed journalists a mock-up of the set for the opening scene of the ceremony, weeks before the event.
So, a spoiler alert: Stop reading now if you want Friday’s opening ceremony to be a surprise. Stop, stop, stop.
But if you are as irresistibly curious as the rest of us, well, prepare for everything from James Bond to Lord Voldemort to a spoonful of sugar.
Boyle has revealed only selected details about the show, But since the performers started rehearsals in June at the Olympic Stadium – and an army of journalists started arriving to cover the July 27-
Aug. 12 games – a trickle of details about the 27-million pound ($42 million) opening ceremony has become a torrent.
The leaks became too much for Coe, who tweeted: “Share the frustration of volunteer performers and the public at Opening Ceremony being unofficially trailed. Let’s #savethesurprise.”
His imploring hashtag fell on deaf ears. Still more information emerged.
So what do we know?
The ceremony’s theme is “Isles of Wonder,” inspired by William Shakespeare’s play about shipwrecked castaways, “The Tempest.” An actor is due to recite Caliban’s speech, the one that runs “Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises.” Mark Rylance, who had been due to perform the lines, pulled out after the death of his stepdaughter. Kenneth Branagh is rumored to be his replacement.
Despite Boyle’s enchanted-island inspiration, few expect the man who depicted Scottish heroin addicts in “Trainspotting” and Indian slum dwellers in “Slumdog Millionaire” to deliver a sanitized image of Britain.
It sounds more like Isles of Wonder and Woe – with a big dash of British whimsy thrown in.
Boyle has said the show is “trying to show the best of us, but we’re also trying to show many, many different things about our country.”
Boyle’s spectacle is only part of the Summer Games opening ceremony, much of which is dictated by Olympic protocol.
There also will be a parade of athletes from the more than 200 participating nations, speeches by dignitaries – including the queen, who will officially declare the games open – and of course the lighting of the Olympic cauldron.
The identity of the torchbearer who will ignite the cauldron it is the most closely guarded secret of all – and so far, that has not leaked.