A show with an Olympic tinge

Media briefing for the opening and closing ceremonies of the June 5-16 SEA Games hosted in Singapore at the Sports Hub, on 15 January 2015.

SINGAPORE - The sky is the limit for the organisers of the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games opening ceremony, which will take place at the National Stadium on June 5.

This is the first time in 22 years that Singapore is hosting the region's biggest multi-sport event, which will be held from June 5 to 16.

Helmed by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Artillery formation and supported by a creative team led by director Beatrice Chia- Richmond, the organisers intend to put on a spectacular opening show, while being careful not to replicate the fanfare and patriotic displays characteristic of National Day Parades (NDP).

Lim Teck Yin, chairman of the Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee Executive Committee (Singsoc), said yesterday the opening ceremony would contain elements about Singapore, as well as South-east Asia.

Speaking at a media briefing, the Sport Singapore CEO said: "I think the biggest challenge for the creative team is how to tell a story that resonates with the audience in Singapore primarily and also one that resonates with the region, who will be watching on television.

"It's a different story and, in this case, we need to reach out to 600 million people and to help them understand the story we are trying to tell."

Preparation for the opening ceremony began as early as October 2013 and more than 5,000 performers and volunteers have been roped in.

Organisers claim the ceremony will be the largest and most spectacular extravaganza held at the new National Stadium at the Singapore Sports Hub, in a year when the nation also celebrates its 50th year of independence.

Chia-Richmond revealed that her creative team had referred to many opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games to come up with a plan on how to approach and conceptualise the show for this year's SEA Games.

"We wanted to create a show on that level," said Chia-Richmond.

"We wanted to create a show that would be beautiful, inspiring and, most importantly, something that all of us can connect with and ultimately be proud of."

The creative director said there were two big secrets for the opening ceremony, one of which was the design of the cauldron.

As for the other secret, she said: "It's who's going to light the cauldron."

VISUAL FEAST

This year's audience will be treated to a visual feast, she added, with the audience interaction system set to be one of the highlights of the show.

Each audience member will be given an LED medallion to wear and form part of a giant LED display.

Multimedia projectors will turn the floor of the stadium into a high-definition screen.

Other highlights include a sound, light and pyrotechnics show. There will also be performances by children from the 11 South-east Asian nations, as well as local artistes like Charlie Lim and The Sam Willows.

While Lim declined to reveal the budget for the opening and closing ceremonies, he said the amount allocated was comparable to the budget for the NDP (estimated at around $17 million in 2011).

Priority ticket sales opened yesterday, while the public can purchase tickets from Jan 22. They will be priced from as low as $12, with concession prices available.

Lim emphasised that the committee aimed to keep the Games affordable and accessible to everyone.

"We're not looking to make money from the SEA Games," he said.

"What we want to do is present Singapore with the best birthday present."


This article was first published on January 16, 2015.
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