Boyle’s Olympic opening: Green and Pleasant or Spinal Tap?

Jun 12, 2012
Jonathan Harwood

Sheep, horses, chickens and a cricket match to appear in the Olympic opening ceremony

THE OLYMPIC opening ceremony will feature 70 sheep, a dozen horses, various chickens and sheep dogs, a model of Glastonbury, a village cricket team and the athletes will be forced to parade around a running track done up to resemble the M25, according to artistic director Danny Boyle.

He lifted the lid on plans for the ceremony at an east London studio and unveiled a model of the pastoral scene that will mark the start of the Games next month.

Boyle's vision also includes giant maypoles, ploughs and clouds supplying artificial rain, if required. The extravaganza will also feature two "mosh pits" at either end of the stadium.

The show, entitled ‘Green and Pleasant’, has been inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest, but will be scored by electronic dance act Underworld.

"Boyle's quirky sense of humour is evident in the ideas for the ceremony," says The Daily Telegraph. "Boyle said he hoped that the show would be unveiled like putting a puzzle together, with the main puzzle being the site and method of lighting the [Olympic] cauldron. However, nowhere on the model of the set is there a clue to the cauldron's location."

"The director has ignored the age-old maxim about never working with children or animals," notes The Guardian.

"While the show will open with a rural pastoral vision that evokes William Blake and Jerusalem, it is expected to evolve to take on a more urban hue. Boyle said he would not reveal how the 'puzzle fits together' as the show evolved."

The Independent reports: "The show is expected to be a celebration of Britishness and British history, but not, no doubt to the relief of many of London's Olympic guests, a full compendium of the last thousand years."

However, that has not stopped the Daily Mail getting excited about some of the historical events that will be featured. Earlier this week it proudly trumpeted: "Britain's triumph over Nazi Germany will be commemorated during a patriotic opening ceremony at the Olympics next month."

The plans promoted a mixed response from commenters on the internet. Some welcomed the unusual ideas but others likened the concept to the cringeworthy scene from Spinal Tap, in which dwarves dance around a tiny polystyrene model of Stonehenge.

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Why? My daugher would give anything to perform, and in the words of a profesional, she was born for ballet. A sheep has no desire to perform in an opening ceremony, nor will they ever. Why not let children with promise, people who will never get a chance again to perform do this, and leave the sheep alone.