13th June, 2012
The Olympic Stadium will be transformed “into the British countryside” for the opening ceremony of the Games on 27 July, which has a £27m budget.
A cast of 10,000 volunteers will help recreate country scenes, against a backdrop featuring farmyard animals and landmarks like Glastonbury Tor.
The opening scene will be called “Green and Pleasant”, artistic director Danny Boyle revealed.
He added the ceremony would create “a picture of ourselves as a nation.”
“The best way to tell that story is through working with real people,” said Boyle, who has reserved a role for NHS nurses in proceedings.
There have already been 157 cast rehearsals and Boyle added: “I’ve been astounded by the selfless dedication of the volunteers, they are the pure embodiment of the Olympic spirit and represent the best of who we are as a nation.”
Europe’s largest bell will ring inside the stadium to start the Shakespeare-inspired spectacle, featuring 900 children.
One billion people are expected to watch the opening ceremony.
Boyle, best known for directing Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting, said the show was inspired by The Tempest and would be about a land recovering from its industrial legacy.
The Stadium’s 27-tonne bell was cast at London’s Whitechapel Foundry, where 13.5-tonne Big Ben was cast in 1856, and is inscribed with a quote from The Tempest’s Caliban: “Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises”.
It will hang at one end of the stadium, and Boyle said he wanted people to hear it “for hundreds of years”.
A full dress rehearsal will be held for a capacity crowd of 80,000 in the Olympic Stadium, which will be fitted with a million-watt sound system.