Olympic Dreams in Staging

Posted on August 19, 2016 in News

As the Olympics come to a close in Rio, we can’t help but think about the event’s scenic design and staging execution. Every production company hopes to one day have the opportunity to bring the best of what they do to a global audience, but only a few have had the honor.

2004 Athens Summer Olympics
A number of teams worked under the direction of Artistic Director Dimitris Papaioannou to bring the sea-and-sky theme together. The resulting show took everyone on a journey through the history of civilization, from Greek Mythology to the discovery of DNA, emphasizing the threads that have joined humanity through the ages. Lighting designers Eleftheria Deko and Robert Dickinson joined with David Zolkwer of Jack Morton Worldwide to present this inspirational and innovative show.

2006 Turin Winter Olympics
Production design for Turin’s famed presentation was done by Mark Fisher of Stufish. It featured more than 900 moving heads and almost 1,000 LED fixtures and 400 dimmers. It was all in the lighting that year, and two billion people tuned in to watch. Lighting was by Durham Marenghi, who had previously done the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and Roger Waters’ 1990 Berlin presentation of The Wall, among other events. The theme that year, “Passion Lives Here,” was chosen to celebrate the various regions of Italy and showcase Italian designs. The 4,000-meter stage was shaped like a human heart.

2008 Beijing Summer Olympics
The opening ceremony was divided into sections to celebrate China’s accomplishments over the centuries, from calligraphy and philosophy to The Silk Road and The Great Wall, with a healthy dose of Tai Chi. The show featured the production design and direction of Zhang Yimou, with lighting design by Sha Xiao Lan, stage design by Mark Fisher of Stufish, and video content by Andree Verger. Some consider this the most elaborately staged Olympic opening ceremony ever.

Is staging the Olympics’ opening ceremony on your bucket list? Ours too.