Thursday, 30 August 2012 10:54 AM
The spectacular opening ceremony narrated by Professor Stephen Hawking, followed the theme of Enlightenment.
Continuing the theme of Shakespeare’s play ‘The Tempest’ seen in the Olympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies, the central character of the Paralympic Opening Ceremony was Miranda, played by disabled actress Nicola Miles Wildin and guided by a Prospero character played by famous British actor Sir Ian McKellen. Miranda led the audience through a journey of discovery inspired by the wonder of science and its power to transform perceptions.
Their journey looked out into deep space following a dramatic interpretation of the ‘big bang’ performed by 600 volunteers, before encountering a Stadium sized library where Miranda investigated the twin themes of the Ceremony ‘reason and rights’ and voyaged across a sea of ideas in a giant upturned umbrella boat.
In the best traditions of quirky British humour, the ceremony also involved the world’s biggest apple bite in a tribute to Sir Isaac Newton. The massive collective crunch took place in the appropriately named Gravity section of the ceremony and involved more than 60,000 audience members simultaneously taking a bite from thousands of apples that were given on arrival at the ceremony. TV viewers were also asked to bite an apple at home at the appropriate moment.
Royal Marine Commando Joe Townsend – an aspiring Paralympic triathlete – emerged with the Torch at the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit, just outside the Stadium, and descended on a zip wire in to the stadium where he handed it over to Margaret Maughan, Britain’s first gold medallist at the first Paralympic Games at Rome 1960, who lit the Olympic Cauldron.
Stephen Hawking’s final address provided a moving tribute to the athletes. He said: "The Paralympic Games is about transforming our perception of the world. We are all different, there is no such thing as a standard or run-of-the-mill human being, but we share the same human spirit. What is important is that we have the ability to create...Good luck to you all."
Jenny Sealey and Bradley Hemmings, Co-artistic Directors of the London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony said: ‘We wanted our Ceremony to be both spectacular and deeply human. Having worked together over a number of years we were determined that the Ceremony should speak from the heart, tell a story, showcase our world leading Deaf and disabled artists and rise to the emotional and historic occasion of the homecoming of the Paralympic Games.”
The Paralympic Games will feature a record 4,280 athletes from 166 countries who will compete in 20 sports.
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