Giant audience, giant legacy for giant event
1 July 2012
Northern Ireland is catching its breath after the largest event of its kind ever staged here, Land of Giants, was performed in front of thousands of ecstatic audience members at the Titanic Slipways on Saturday 30 June.
The team behind the massive outdoor happening managed to keep quite a few surprises up their giant sleeves as an enthralled capacity-crowd followed every step of the epic story, despite the rain.
Throughout the 45-minute night-time extravaganza the central character, Grace, took the audience on a thrilling journey visiting fictional characters from Northern Ireland`s history, starting in 1869, while referencing the many giants visible in our cultural and natural heritage, such as Harland and Wolff`s, Samson and Goliath and Cave Hill`s Sleeping Giant - which is allegedly the inspiration behind Jonathan Swift`s Gulliver.
At one point the tiny star of the show took a dramatic charge from one end of the 150m stage towards the Titanic Building and after a breath taking leap, suspended from a crane barely visible in the dark skies, she appeared as an animated character on the Titanic Building which transformed into the pages of a massive storybook. The Titanic was also `raised` on the site where it was built using pyrotechnics and spectacular light effects – much to the delight of the wowed audience.
Throughout the show, snapshots of the lives and voices of the people of Belfast were narrated visually or in music, and the story touched on the hay day of the linen industry, the building of the Titanic, the First and Second World Wars – right the way up to the present year.
The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Gavin Robinson, said: “Belfast really shone last night and the show was everything we thought it would be: epic, exciting, colourful, breath-taking, and at times utterly moving; but most importantly it was about Belfast and its people who were the lifeblood of the story and the stars of the show.”
Moira Swinbank, from Legacy Trust UK, who part-funded the event, added: “The people involved in delivering this event, from the volunteer performers, acrobats, actors to the costumiers, production and operations teams, and many more, have gained invaluable experience that truly can`t be bought.
“The knowledge gained and contacts made will help develop their talents and prospects and ensure a bright future for events in Northern Ireland for many years to come.”
Land of Giants was delivered by a consortium which included Belfast City Council, Beat Carnival, Belfast Community Circus and Young at Art and was funded by Legacy Trust UK, with additional support from Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council and Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.
Ruth Mackenzie, Director of the Cultural Olympiad, said: “Well done Belfast for the stunning images of the London 2012 Festival – these will go round the world and be an amazing legacy for Belfast.”
Cian Smyth, London 2012 Creative Programmer with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “This is a new and exciting era for outdoor arts events in Northern Ireland. An event of this scale and calibre, involving so many people, has never been staged here before and sets a high standard for the sector. The development of our arts performance and events sectors as a result of the show can`t be underestimated.”
Culture and Arts Minister Carál Ní Chuilín added: "The success of last night`s show demonstrates our ability to stage large, world class events. I am sure this will be one of the highlights of the 2012 Festival. I want to congratulate everyone involved, and I know this was the result of many months of hard work. I am sure everyone who made it along to the Titanic slipway will have enjoyed the show and its mix of pyrotechnics, music and daring aerial performances."
Tourism Minister, Arlene Foster said: "People in Northern Ireland, whether locals or visitors, are just spoilt for choice over what to see and do at the minute. From the sell-out Irish Open and the Clipper Round the World Yacht race to amazing events such as the Land of Giants. We are continuing to show the world that we have so much to offer visitors and securing our place as a great country to visit."
Legacy Trust UK is an independent charity creating a lasting impact from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by funding ideas and local talent to inspire creativity across the United Kingdom.
Land of Giants was part of the London 2012 Festival, the spectacular 12-week nationwide celebration running from 21 June until 9 September 2012 bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK.
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