Epidaurus v MCG


The ancient theatre at Epidaurus on the left. The newly renovated Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on the right. Spot the difference.

OK. In true Roman ampitheatre style, the MCG is round or oval-shaped and normally plays hosts to spectator sports, whilst the theatre at Epidaurus is semi-circular and once played host to performances of some of the greatest plays ever written.

But at last night’s opening ceremony for the XVIII Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, an estimated 85,000 spectators inside the MCG were transformed into a massive audience of theatre-goers.

Depending on the type of show, when I go to the theatre, I:

  • use my imagination
  • am entertained by storytelling
  • watch people perform characters
  • listen to music
  • look at costumes on people appropriate to their role
  • appreciate the beauty of dance
  • am sometimes dazzled by colour and movement
  • see how lighting can be relevant to the action, create atmosphere or enhance the performance
  • am often bewildered by the use of technology in performance
  • see set pieces and props
  • watch characters successfully communicate non-verbally through movement

Last night”s opening ceremony was a wonderful theatrical event. There is no doubt it was theatre. Every item listed above, common to various theatre forms, was in this very contemporary opening ceremony.

Yesterday the Melbourne Cricket Ground just became the largest theatre in Australia.

And what a show it was! (Not quite as spectacular as the 2000 Sydney Olympics opening ceremony, though).

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