London 2012 – The Opening Ceremony – Community Theatre on a massive scale?

Upon leaving school Danny Boyle began his career at the Joint Stock Theatre Company, before moving onto the Royal Court Theatre in 1982. At the same time he also started directing for TV, but his roots lie firmly in theatre. His most recent notable theatrical production was Frankenstein at the National Theatre in London in 2011.

So – the big question – was the Opening Ceremony an example of Political, Community, Applied, Agitprop Theatre? Here’s what Mark Lawson thought…

Why the Olympic opening ceremony was a triumph of agitprop theatre

You thought it was innocent family entertainment? Wrong. Danny Boyle’s political production would have made Joan Littlewood and the leftwing Theatre Workshop proud……Boyle’s approach can be justified by the fact that the 2012 Olympic bid was initiated and successfully executed by Labour governments at both national and London level. More importantly, the ability to choose what to say, free of political influence, is a fundamental British value, and so merited expression in a show that celebrated the nature of the nation. Following a Beijing ceremony that had to say exactly what the country’s government wanted it to, the Boyle event pointedly delighted in saying things our rulers might dispute.

The Opening Ceremony reviewed as a piece of *** theatre by The Guardian

Guerilla Ritual: Olympics Ceremony

Essay: How are the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games like theater, aside from origins in Greece? Amy Martin on spectacle, performance and keeping the flame alive.

published Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Extract from a review in The LA Times

Aristotle in the “Poetics” informs us that spectacle and song are the least important elements of good tragedy. For Olympic opening ceremonies, however, they take priority over his all-important plot.  Narrative just has a hard time getting heard above the din, and it’s too bad the social media romantic saga of Boyle’s production wasn’t ditched.


Danny Boyle and his connection to Applied Theatre

Boyle is a trustee of Dramatic Need

In an article for The Times in the United Kingdom on 11 November 2008, Dramatic Need trustee Danny Boyle described the charity’s aims:

For children – and for many adults – art plays a vital role in helping them to express feelings and difficulties that they aren’t otherwise able to articulate. Its importance is never greater than in post-conflict conditions. Of course, water, food, and first aid are essential during a crisis, but none of these things can restore human dignity to a person dying from disease or help a rape victim to cope with their outrage. To suggest that the only things that maintain our humanity are those that serve our biological needs seems to me palpably incorrect. We are not just what we eat. We are also what we feel, what we fear, what we love and what we hate. Unexpressed tensions find their strength in violence….If there is not a means to move beyond the hatred of the past, we will never move past violence.[2]

About La (Paula) Mor

La (Paula) Mór is a theatre teacher and director. She has taught and directed in the UK and internationally for 20+ years, both at Secondary and University level. La is currently working on Jeju Island in South Korea at Branksome Hall Asia where she develops original, contemporary theatre with her students and continues research into the applications of the Viewpoints in Theatre Education. La has been trained in Anne Bogart's 9 Viewpoints by SITI Theatre Company and Zen Zen Zo and delivers international Viewpoints training to young people, undergraduates, performers and lecturers. Academic background: BA(Hons) Bristol University; PGCE Leeds University; MA Applied Theatre, Central School of Speech and Drama.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s