COMMONWEALTH GAMES: Lei Duffy does not believe she is the world’s greatest dancer, nor its most accomplished singer. She does, though, have one quality with which to dazzle a billion people at a major global spectacle – enthusiasm.
“I really hope to participate in the opening ceremony, it’s such an exciting event,” explained the Glasgow University business student. “I don’t know what I would do, but I just want to be a part of it.”
It was a sentiment shared by about 150 other hopefuls who gathered last night to audition to be among a cast of thousands tasked with telling Glasgow’s story to the world at the opening and closing ceremonies of this summer’s Commonwealth Games.
A cross section of the city’s population congregated outside the city’s Film City studio yesterday evening. With a misty drizzle cloaking everything on the Clyde’s southern banks, it seemed like an inauspicious place to find a generation of stars, but those in attendance were happy to brave the elements for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
There were students like Ms Duffy, office workers and even retired grandmothers (“This is the best thing that’s happened to Glasgow and I want to have a wee boogie in front of the Queen,” joked one).
Those who passed muster will join a cast of thousands for the opening ceremony at Celtic Park on 23 July as well as the closing ceremony at Hampden Park 11 days later. Performing before a collective crowd of more than 110,000 people in the stadia, they will be watched by a potential global television audience of more than one billion.
For mere mortals denied the chance to win a medal, it seemed like the next best option for being able to play a part in an event that is capturing the public’s imagination.
Last night’s auditions – one of several casting calls over the next week – were overseen by David Zolkwer, head of ceremonies and artistic director for the Games, as well as a team of choreographers.
Staff measured those auditioning, sizing them up for uniforms and outfits for the ceremonies, before watching them perform in groups. The mood was buoyant, although some of those turning up for an unrelated magic show casting unwittingly joined the Games fray.
Mr Zolkwer said they were looking for magic of another variety – “enthusiastic and talented” individuals with skills in a range of disciplines, such as singing, dancing and performance. Those who were successful can expect to take part in about four rehearsals a week – each up to four hours long – on the evenings and weekends between May and July.
Eileen Gallagher, chair of the Glasgow 2014 ceremonies, culture and Queen’s baton relay committee, said: “The opening and closing ceremonies of Glasgow 2014 will be a global showcase for Glasgow and Scotland and unforgettable nights for everyone who sees them.
“The auditions represent the first stages of the unique journey the ceremonies cast will share as they get ready to star on the international stage. “
It remains to be seen how Games organisers will deploy the 3,000 strong cast during the ceremonies. Details of both events are a closely guarded secret, but are intended to be “a celebration of culture and national pride”.
The shows will be broken down into segments and although some performers will be asked to pre-record performances to be relayed on big screens, the vast majority will be expected to perform live.