Commonwealth Games opener will be on par with London 2012, says director | Commonwealth Games 2022

The Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Birmingham “has a broadcast ambition never before imagined” and will be comparable to the London 2012 Olympics ceremony, according to the show’s artistic director.

The two-and-a-half-hour performance in front of 30,000 spectators at the Alexander Stadium is expected to attract a global audience of one billion people when it airs on Thursday evening.

It has been almost 10 years to the day since the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, which was widely acclaimed.

“I don’t feel at all in the shadow of the Olympics. I feel like we have a comparable and massively entertaining, moving and thought-provoking show to share with the world,” said Iqbal Khan, the theater director who created the show. “The Olympics have been amazing for this country, but we refuse to let that overwhelm us. We take that as our inspiration.

Duran Duran returns to his hometown to conduct the ceremony, which will also feature Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Led by creative director Martin Green, the team behind the show includes Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight and Hamish Hamilton, who has run the Super Bowl halftime show every year since 2010.

Green, who was ceremonial master at the 2012 Olympics, said: “It’s Birmingham’s turn on the world stage and I’m delighted that the rich musical heritage that is deeply woven into the fabric of this place is at its heart. of this generation – defining spectacle.

There are 1,800 volunteers from across the region taking part in the show, which will follow 72 young people representing Commonwealth nations and territories as they embark on a journey through old and new Birmingham.

“Volunteers are in the DNA of the whole show,” said Khan, associate director of Birmingham Repertory Theatre, who grew up in the city. “Their spirit has been overwhelming. I think it’s a joyful sight and there has never been a greater need for joy than now.

Khan said he was keenly aware that the show was one of the UK’s first opportunities to showcase itself on the world stage post-Brexit.

Weightlifter Emily Campbell and diver Jack Laugher, both Olympic medalists, will be the flag bearers for the England team. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA

“We have been through a period of unprecedented division in this country, so having the opportunity to celebrate the beautiful things of living with difference seems like a very necessary and joyful thing to do,” he said. “But I don’t do a diverse show because it’s cool or because that’s our message, I do it because that’s what this place is about.

“This city was created from the voices of Commonwealth children and we want to celebrate that Birmingham is now, I think, the number one Commonwealth city in the world.”

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The Opening Ceremony will feature the official declaration of the start of the Games, marking the start of 11 days of sport in the city, with 19 events across 16 venues.

Diver Jack Laugher and weightlifter Emily Campbell, both Olympic medalists, will be the flag bearers for Team England at the event.

Commonwealth Games Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “London 2012 brought spectacles like this to a whole new generation. Ten years later, this ceremony will connect a new global audience and showcase the best of Birmingham and the whole of the UK.

Khan, who has worked on the show for 18 months, said he was confident it “would not disappoint with the scale of its theatrics and the scale of its ambition”, as well as its presentation of Birmingham.

“There’s an iconic phrase the Brummies use here, which is we pride ourselves on being modest, and it’s lovely and it’s a slightly subversive joke. But I think there’s a growing desire to really make some noise about ourselves,” Khan said.

“We have designed this show as both a spectacle of unparalleled excellence for live audiences but as a show in terms of broadcast that has an ambition that has never been conceived before.”

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