Oh Danny Boyle!

Elspeth Murray, 29 July 2012

It was the morning after the Olympic opening ceremony and I called this session because I wanted to talk about it. I had woken up thinking about it and was excited by the vision and quality of the spectacle.

Turns out there were plenty of people keen to share their thoughts and feelings about the event - all pretty much positive, some wildly so.

Who was there: Elspeth Murray, Kerry Napuk, Fiona Sturgeon-Shea, Joyce Mcmillan, Steven Kirschbaum, Thom Dibdin, Phelim McDermott.

So basically ...

Some folk were filling up recalling the tear-jerkingest moments of the night before. We made an attempt to fill Joyce Mcmillan in on the detail of what happened as she'd been experiencing it through her tweeters' exclamatory responses. I remember standing up to try and explain how the torch lighting bit went (perhaps not a part that bore Boyle's fingerprints but still) and saying something like: “And then they held their torches to the petals and then whoomph it's a huge ring of fire and then - f*** me! - the stems all rose up and you could see from underenath this amazing shot of the fire and the metal and oh my god it was like - uh!”

And we talked about the chimneys and the Mary Poppinses and the Queen and Daniel

Craig and the corgis, etc. etc. It probably had a lot in common with other conversations you've heard. But also:

There was consideration of the imaginative space that exists somewhere between the performers and what's allowed to happen for the audience.

There was recognition that this felt like a radical starting point for something - an acknowledgement that this is how it is right now. A magic moment.

There was talk about the strong narrative thrust of the piece - and how Boyle's film work had its roots in subsidised theatre.

Joyce Mcmillan quoted Quebecois playwright Michel Tremblay: “The more one is local, the more one is universal.”

And - with reference to the over-commentated-upon parts of the spectacle - I quoted Georgian puppeteer Rick Conte who, aged 5, told his mum not to say too much about a song he'd composed: “You don't have to splain it - it splains itself!”

At the end we each wrote on a tiny little tag, a note for Danny Boyle:

  • Use time - heals all wonders

  • Thank you! The best, most complete image of Britain ever!

  • Oh Danny Boyle - the water cooler chat is sparkling thanks to you!

  • For the beauty, liberalism, madness, ambition, excitement, pop, avant-garde, gorgeous theatre show - thank you.

  • Flawless.

  • You made me cry (with joy)!

  • Thanks for your courageous irreverence. The power of the trickster.

  • Thank you Danny!



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Comments: 2

Harry Giles, 31 July 2012

Wrote this a month ago, before it all actually happened. Thought it might be fun to post here. ;-)

Olympics opening ceremony details revealed


The Olympic Stadium will be transformed into the “British countryside” for the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Games on 27 July.

A cast of 10,000 unpaid workers will help recreate country scenes, against a backdrop featuring farmyard animals and landmarks like Glastonbury Tor.

The opening scene of the ceremony, which will cost the same as 1200 teachers’ annual salaries, will be called “Green and Pleasant”, artistic director Danny Boyle revealed.

He added the show would create “a picture of ourselves as one proud, undivided nation.”

“The best way to tell that story is through working with real people,” said Boyle, revealing that the ceremony will open with a parade of NHS nurses, Polish builders, traditional British civil servants and Scotch clansmen wearing their tartan regalia.

“We’re thinking about giving the audience scorecards, so that they can vote for their favourite national hero in the parade,” he added, a small trail of spittle involuntarily running from the corner of his mouth.

The set will feature meadows and hills, with families taking picnics, people playing sports on the village green and jolly farmers spraying the fields with industrial chemicals.

A river of sparkling gin and tonic will wind its way around the traditional British buildings in the set: a church, where a female vicar will be marrying specially selected gay couples; a village hall, complete with jam competition; and a working slaughterhouse, where the traditional farmyard animals will be turned into burgers and sausages for sale to the audience (£8.50 each).

One billion people worldwide are expected to watch the opening ceremony, and international news commentators are already practising sneering cultural superiority to compete with British coverage of previous years’ opening ceremonies.

The world’s largest harmonically-tuned bell will ring inside the Stadium to start the spectacle. “We’ve got real families to donate 900 pink-cheeked children from all the local boroughs,” said Danny Boyle, unsubtly readjusting his genitals inside his tight-fighting jeans, “and what plans we have for them!”

Among the other features will be two bear-pits filled with benefit claimants, who will compete for their weekly hand-outs through a series of inventive gladiorial combats using hand-crafted British weapons.

“We really want this ceremony to be for everybody,” the director said, clouds of sulphurous smoke puffing from his nostrils.

The set will feature real grass, an oak tree and teflon clouds held up by a human pyramid of beggars and prostitutes. Black blood seeping from his eye sockets, the director explained: “We really wanted to make sure we gave something back to the community by providing a role to all those who might not otherwise be able to take part in the Games.”

When asked if they were going to give people their houses back, he said “What do you mean. Ha ha ha.”

The home nations will be represented in the set by titanic blood-red phalluses topped with a thistle, a leek, a rose and flax.

“We’re trying to represent everyone’s dreams in this ceremony, and I personally hope it will be a proud reflection of every individual in this great country,” said Danny Boyle, tearing the last remnants of the latex mask from his face to reveal the skeletal visage of Azathoth, Archduke of Hell.

The ceremony will close with the launch of ground-to-air missiles from the houses surrounding Olympic Park, detonating in a co-ordinated display of coloured lights that will rain burning nuclear death on the indifferent population below.


Elspeth Murray, 31 July 2012

Ha ha! How prescient of you!

Interesting to see the post-opening-ceremony activities of this protest group, particularly around online censorship.