Paralympics 2012: Five Things to Know About the Opening Ceremony
LONDON - The London 2012 Summer Olympics closed only a couple of weeks ago, but the British capital is getting ready for another big sports event.
The opening ceremony for the 16th Paralympic Games takes place Wednesday night. It will air at 8pm London time on U.K. broadcaster Channel 4, which is hoping to make a big splash with its coverage.
Film director Stephen Daldry is leading the creative team of the opening ceremony that will kick off what are already the most successful Paralympics ever in terms of ticket sales.
Here is a look at five things to know about the opening spectacle for the Paralympics, which run from Aug. 29 until Sept. 9.
1. The theme is "Elightenment":
The opening ceremony, overseen by artistic directors Jenny Sealey and Bradley Hemmings, is entitled "Enlightenment" and will celebrate Britain’s history of science and discovery.
"We want our ceremony to be both spectacular and deeply human,” Sealey and Hemmings have said in a statement.
Sebastian Coe, head of the London Olympics and Paralympics organizing committee, has called the show "more thoughtful" than the action-packed opening ceremony, dubbed "Isles of Wonder," that Danny Boyle put together for the Summer Games. But organizers in online promotions still promise such things as "acrobatic performances on a 35 meter-high rig above the stadium floor."
"It focuses on that extraordinary period in European history and the great intellectual revolution that took place between 1550 and 1720," the Guardian quoted Coe as saying about the Paralympics opening. "Everything from Newton making sense of gravity and motion to Napier with logarithms and Harvey with blood circulation."
Organizers have said that the event will not only pay tribute to the likes of Netwon, but also Stephen Hawking.
Added Coe: "It's really about ceilings, about human understanding, about limitations and the importance of knowledge. Within that period some quite profound things were being said about the rights of man. You can probably gather what it's trying to say."
2. Shakespeare's "The Tempest" is one key inspiration:
Just like the opening ceremony of the Summer Games, the Paralympics event will quote William Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
A young actress will play Miranda, the main character from the famous writer's play, and lead the audience through the ceremony.
According to the Daily Mirror, the proceedings will kick off following a fly-over by Aerobility, a charity that trains disabled people to become pilots, with the famous lines: “O wonder! How many goodly creatures there are here!"
Most talk in the U.K. has focused on the Paralympics closing ceremony, which is scheduled to feature a performance by Coldplay, while the opening ceremony score has drawn less attention.
Organizers have said little beyond the fact that the opening event will be a mix of classical and dance music. Most observers have highlighted that whatever music is used, the ceremony will not be the broad display of British music royalty that the Summer Games opener was.
In addition to music entertainment, the ceremony will feature the typical opening remarks from Coe and Philip Craven, the president of the International Paralympics Committee, the lighting of the flame and the Paralympics anthem.
4. Thousands of volunteers and athletes will make it happen:
The Paralympics opening celebration will feature more than 3,000 volunteers and 100-plus professional artists, as well as more than 4,000 athletes.
Among the performers are 50 disabled people, including non-competing Paralympians and rehabilitating soldiers, who learned skills from scratch for a circus act.
The athletes will come in earlier than during the Olympics opening ceremony. They will then sit on the track to form part of the audience.
5. The Summer Olympics cauldron will return:
The cauldron that was used to display the Olympic flame during the Summer Olympics will be back in use for the Paralympics.
While the cauldron has 205 petals - one for every nation participating in the Summer Games, it will this time only have 166 inscribed as fewer countries compete in the Paralympics.
Like the Summer Games, the torch relay for the Paralympics has involved some celebrities, including singer Charlotte Church.