Staging the biggest show in Gold Coast history27 Nov 2017 by Fiona Self
When the GC2018 Ceremonies share the story of the Gold Coast and its people with the world, for two Queensland creatives, another tale will unfold.
A story of careers coming full circle.
Joining a cast of internationally-renowned producers, choreographers and directors, Nathan M. Wright has been announced as the Head of Choreography and Staging Director for the Opening Ceremony and Drew Anthony as the Head of Choreography and Staging Director for the Closing Ceremony.
Their stories started here in Queensland and in April 2018, their work will be performed in front of a global audience of up to 1.5 billion.
Anthony grew up on the Gold Coast and attended Palm Beach Currumbin State High School.
His ceremonies experience includes the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games, as well as co-producing the Flag Handover Ceremony at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
For decades Anthony has been travelling the world chasing his dream, but he’s ecstatic that GC2018 has brought him home.
“This is the first time in almost 30 years that I have had the chance to come home and work for an extended period of time,” Anthony told GC2018.com.
“The fact that this appointment gives me the chance to represent, in a theatrical and cultural sense, my home town is beyond exciting.
“I am incredibly honoured and proud to be part of this great team delivering the Closing Ceremony.”
Anthony’s personal connection to the coast will shine through the end product fans will see on Sunday, 15 April 2018.
While the ceremonies remain a closely-guarded secret, Anthony revealed the choreography and staging will have a distinctly Gold Coast flavour.
“I loved growing up on the Gold Coast and feel a strong heart connection to this city, so the choreography is very much inspired by my childhood and my feeling for my home town,” he said.
“Add to that my love of the self-aware Aussie sense of humour and the Closing Ceremony should have some subtle and some not-so-subtle irreverence.”
Anthony’s Opening Ceremony counterpart, Nathan M. Wright, grew up just down the road in Brisbane, but has called London home for the last few years.
Wright’s career in ceremonies has spanned continents, including the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and the London 2012 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Beyond the ceremonies arena, he has worked on films including The Great Gatsby and Happy Feet.
Being part of a Games in Queensland will be a career highlight.
“When this [opportunity] came up, how could I say no?” Wright told GC2018.com.
“I’ve done so many of these and to be part of one in my home state is something I could never say no to.”
Wright has seen the uniting power of a major Games firsthand and is nostalgic reflecting on the London 2012 Olympics.
“London absolutely united the city,” he said.
“It was the most incredible place to be in during the Games, it was phenomenal.”
London was the first time Wright had stayed in a city after the Games ended and the bonds created within the ceremonies team were so strong, it created a community that is still close today.
Wright was having dinner with a friend, also part of the ceremonies team, who announced she had POD – ‘Post Olympic Depression’.
“I said to her ‘look, I was thinking of starting a class for anyone that was involved with the Olympics, why don’t we try put on a weekly class and we’ll call it Pod,’” Wright explained.
“We launched it on Facebook and the Facebook site crashed.”
The class is still running today and Wright describes the Pod effect as an example of the influence an event like the Games has on all who are touched by it.
It’s a legacy Wright is very proud of.
“It changed people’s lives,” he said.
“It’s a feeling you can try to explain to people, but unless you’ve done it, it’s hard to articulate.
“What I loved about London was the people’s stories, the people who came to Pod afterwards and shared their emotional journey.”
The Games journey is an adventure Wright says the Gold Coast is ready for and he’s most looking forward to seeing its impact and legacy.
“I’m just excited for the Gold Coast to experience this,” he said.
“I think it’s definitely the kind of place that would embrace the wonderful diversity that’s going on here on the Gold Coast, I think that’s what I’m most excited about.
“Regardless of what’s going on in the world, and there’s so much going on in the world at the moment, it can unite everyone from different races, sexuality.
“It’s just a chance to embrace humans all over the world.
“I think it’s great for us as the Gold Coast to show to the rest of the world what great hosts we’re going to be for all of that.”
See the spectacular show live on Sunday, 15 April 2018. Tickets to the Closing Ceremony are still available.