An unlikely protest pin-up for the summer's Olympic Games

 

Protesters will not be allowed to ruin the Olympics, organisers vowed after Trenton Oldfield's Boat Race invasion. But the role of civil disobedience in British history could itself be hailed with a theatrical tribute to the suffragettes at the London Games' opening ceremony.

Details of the inaugural ceremony, devised by the Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, are tightly under wraps.

Titled "The Isles of Wonder" after a line spoken by Caliban in Shakespeare's The Tempest, the £27m show will celebrate the best of Britain.

One radical idea currently being prepared is a section dramatising the role of the suffragettes, the militant activists whose often-violent actions forced the British establishment to confront the question of votes for women.

It is understood that suffragette outfits have been commissioned for use in the ceremony, and consideration has been given to performers re-enacting the death of Emily Davison, the campaigner killed when she ran in front of the King's horse during the 1913 Derby.

The suffragette sequence will be further considered following the protest by Mr Oldfield, a self-styled "anti-elitism" campaigner. He has called for protesters to "do something similar to Emily Davison" during the Games, after successfully disrupting the Boat Race.

Yesterday, protesters angry about the corporate nature of the Games threatened to bring disruption to London's streets by blocking special traffic lanes reserved for athletes, sponsors and VIPs.

Boyle, the Slumdog Millionaire director, said his opening ceremony featuring a cast of 12,000 volunteers, and expected to be viewed by a worldwide audience of one billion, would capture the "essence of Britain" and depict a land recovering from its industrial legacy.

One sequence will be cast from NHS nurses and children from the London Olympic boroughs. The show, performed to a musical accompaniment from the techno group Underworld, will also celebrate the "unique" British sense of humour, Boyle said.

The 27 July event will begin at 9pm with the sound of the largest harmonically tuned bell in Europe. Produced by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, it is two metres tall by three metres wide, and weighs 23 tons. It will be inscribed with Shakespeare's line "Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises" from The Tempest, as well as "London 2012".

An Olympics spokesman declined to comment on the suffragette preparations, but said the show would "celebrate the best of British while representing all the regions".

The intrigue surrounding the opening ceremony is likely to fall away only when a full dress rehearsal is held in front of a capacity crowd of 80,000 in the Olympic Stadium, which will be fitted with a million-watt sound system.

The Government has doubled the budget for the four Olympic and Paralympic ceremonies to £81m. But the £27m that Boyle has to play with is well below the £65m lavished on Beijing's spectacular opening show in 2008. A more "intimate" event is promised as a consequence.

The 12 August closing ceremony, titled "A Symphony of British Music", will feature the songs which have come to define the nation in the decades following the Second World War. An invitation to the Sex Pistols to represent the punk explosion has been declined.

The Musicians' Union has complained that a large proportion of the vocal tracks and music used in the shows will be pre-recorded, leaving rumoured performers including Take That and Sir Paul McCartney performing little more than a "karaoke" role.

The organisers said the technical complexities of staging the show in a large, bowl-shaped arena, such as sound delays, meant that the use of pre-recorded music was unavoidable.

Race is on to be 'worst sponsor'

Lord Coe's claim that London 2012 will be the greenest Olympic Games in history is "corporate spin", say human-rights groups, who today launch a campaign to highlight the environmental record of three multinational sponsors.

BP, Rio Tinto and Dow Chemical Company are respectively providing fuel for the Olympic fleet, metal for medals and an ornate stadium wrap. But the "Greenwash Gold 2012" campaign will be presenting "medals" to the companies in July based on the outcome of a public vote for the "worst corporate sponsor".

Nina Lakhani

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee