Cows star in Olympic opening show
The Olympic Stadium will be turned into a meadow complete with real animals, grass and clouds that will rain down for the opening ceremony.
Artistic director Danny Boyle revealed a glimpse of what the world can expect from the £27 million spectacular, saying: "The opening scene of the July 27 ceremony represents a traditional and idyllic view of the British countryside. It is a green and pleasant land because it is something we are really proud of."
There will be families having picnics and sports being played on the village green in what London 2012 is describing as "one of the largest sets ever built".
The audience of about 62,000 in the stadium in Stratford, east London, and a billion people watching worldwide will also see farmers tilling soil while animals graze. These include 12 horses, three cows, two goats, 10 chickens, 10 ducks, nine geese, 70 sheep and three sheep dogs.
In a nod to the big festival events that Britain is famous for, there will also be mosh pits where members of the public will be. This is a nod to the Glastonbury festival and the Proms, Boyle said. It is likely that the lucky members of the public who nab a spot in the mosh pit will be from the east London Olympic host boroughs.
The 10,000 volunteers, cast and crew have been rehearsing day and night to make the opening ceremony a success. Installation of all the equipment needed will begin in the Olympic Stadium soon. These include 1,200 automated lamps, 1,000 conventional lamps and 500 LED fixtures. There will also be a million-watt sound system using more than 500 speakers and 50 tonnes of associated gear.
Circling the meadow will be a strip made to look like water that will act as a parade ground where the competing athletes will walk during the ceremonial sections of the opening. There will be a mesh of wire above the stadium that will be used for "equipment and individuals - there will be plenty of that going on", Boyle said. "We are rehearsing all of that as much as you can but you cannot really rehearse all of that until you get into the stadium." This is due to happen in the coming weeks.
The giant bell, the largest harmonically tuned bell in the world, which will ring out to start the ceremony is already in place in the stadium. The show kicks off at 9pm and then "hopefully the bell will be rung again at midnight or more likely half-past midnight," Boyle noted.
There is an hour of culture at the beginning. Then there is the parade of athletes followed by the lighting of the cauldron and the fireworks. The athletes will be the only ""unknown" factor" in the ceremonial show which welcomes the world to the start of the Olympics, according to Boyle. He said there would be British humour and that the country's history would be represented but "not in a box ticking way". The show will reflect "parts of our heritage but looking forward as well," he added. A troupe of NHS nurses will appear in one sequence but Boyle said the show would not be overtly political.
Boyle also teased there would be "real clouds" hanging over the stadium but remained tight-lipped on any further details. He said: "They will be real clouds that will be hanging over the stadium. Work that out if you can. We know we're an island culture and an island climate. One of these clouds will provide rain on the evening, just in case it doesn't rain."