CULTURE

Different kind of opening and closing ceremonies for Athens 2004 Olympics

“It is worthwhile to try to do something different, to bring about a reversal,» said Dimitris Papaioannou, who, along with his colleagues, has spent the past year and a half preparing for the starting and closing ceremonies of the 2004 Olympic Games. Papaioannou, who until recently had kept silent on the preparations, gave some indications about the aesthetic aspects of the ceremonies. He declined from making any further revelations, since apparently the element of surprise is part of the ceremonies. From his recent statements it appears that the 2004 Olympics will send across an entirely different message about how the ceremonies should be held. Volunteers only The press conference took place because of the Athens 2004 organizing committee and Papaioannou’s invitation to all the volunteers who wish to participate in the ceremonies. Papaioannou pointed out that only volunteers will take part, either famous artists, who will receive the «greatest promotion of their lives,» or simple citizens, who, according to Papaioannou, will be rewarded with unique and unforgettable experiences. He was very optimistic about the public’s response, not only because participation in the ceremonies is a big attraction in itself, but also because general volunteers who have already applied, have marked the ceremonies as their first option in the applications. Something different Papaioannou provided some information about what the public should expect. «Olympic ceremonies are usually shaped like music halls, shows and great spectacles. We don’t think that this is appropriate here. The show is, of course, intended for the whole world, but we will try to make Greece cast a modern gaze upon her past. Because this is the country that founded these Games in antiquity and was also the first one to organize them again in modern times. Therefore we ought to dare to bring about a reversal, an entirely different approach to the ceremonies. We are borrowing the aura of art to attempt this, and we hope that this aura will appear intact in some parts of the ceremonies.» «We are trying to make a remix of the incredible history of art that we have, and which bears witness to our country’s history,» he added. When asked whether the Greek public shared the need for something different in the ceremonies, Papaioannou replied that that remained to be seen. He added that for the time being, both foreign and Greek organizers of the Games felt that need very strongly. They are apparently thrilled with the general principles of the so-called «Papaioannou project,» but also with some of its details and with the particular bits of information that they often receive. He refused to reveal any of these details to the journalists, though. He only explained that the ceremonies will not be based on leading characters, like a star appearing on stage and singing a song or anything along these lines. «This is music hall tactic, and we need something different for the Athens Olympics. We will provide a variety of composers and sounds.» The complex issue of televised broadcasting is already being attended to, with the collaboration of Greek and foreign experts, who are carrying out a detailed decoupage on how to cover every moment of the ceremonies, while allowing time for events like the reactions of the audience in the stadium and the parade of the athletes. All the details of the ceremonies are being tested in rehearsals with dancers and athletes or tried out on the computer, and are reshaped according to the results. The collaboration with the English company Jack Morton, which has undertaken the production, is going ahead at full speed. «What we are experiencing is very exciting, but very hard at the same time,» said Papaioannou describing his team’s hard efforts. Journalists insisted on trying to find out more details about the ceremonies, and when asked whether any music by Hadjidakis and Theodorakis would be included in the ceremony, Papaioannou said that that was inevitable.