I live in a small village, not the kind of place, I thought, to brush shoulders with people directly involved in the Summer Olympics. I couldn’t be more wrong. Since one of my ‘BT Olympic Storytellers’ poems appeared in the Parish magazine, I have connected with a dancer who is acting in the opening ceremony, a torch bearer, a member of the women’s wheelchair basketball team, a pair of volunteer timekeepers, a volunteer driver, two judo Olympians, and a volunteer whose job it is to ferry results from the athletics finishing line to the Press Contingent at the Games. Little by little I am making contact with each of them to get their stories.
I’m in the Opening Ceremony!
Alison Kirrage talks to me about about preparing to take part in the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony. Of course my first question was ‘ what is the theme..?’ All she is allowed to say about the theme is that it is historical, multicultural and about all things British, and in truth, I wouldn’t have wanted to spoil the surprise. She describes her role as physical theatre. As to the way she became involved, she was contacted by her agent at the end of 2011 to audition, and then, a week later was recalled. The second stage was to audition in front of Danny Boyle (of Slumdog Millionaire fame) , an amazing experience in itself. She was then pencilled in and heard nothing more for months…imagine her elation when she heard that she had made the final cut. Excited to work with someone of the calibre of Danny Boyle, Alison is impressed by his friendliness, his grin and that he always goes out of his way to thank everyone for their work.
Alison’s particular group comprises ten professionals, of which she is one, and twenty volunteers. When pressed all she would say is that their performance moves around the whole arena…not giving away any secrets, except to say that after their first rehearsal she couldn’t move for four days – obviously the emphasis is on physical! Their choreographer is Toby Sedgewick ( known for the stage production of Warhorse) and again Alison is astounded by his friendly approach to all of those involved – volunteer and professional alike.
‘Inclusivity is the byword,’ she says, ‘ there are all ages, all types, working together and everyone is immensely proud to be part of it.’
Rehearsals will now take place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until The Day, moving from a small rehearsal space to one of a similar size to the arena, and then , finally to the arena itself. Security, she says, is immensely tight, and even the letter she has to show to gain admittance to the rehearsals will become one of her keepsakes of this amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity.
Alison has promised to talk to me after the ceremony to try to sum up what it felt like to actually be there…and is not sure she will manage to find the words… but that is where me being a storyteller comes in useful.
My next post will be about James Toney, managing editor at Sportsbeat, and Chobham’s own Olympic Torchbearer…