The summer of 2022 was a huge moment for the city of Birmingham, as it played host to the 2022 Commonwealth Games, as well as the competing athletes from 72 nations. Taking place in the newly updated Alexander Stadium, the Opening and Closing ceremonies colourfully book-ended the largest multi-sport event held in the UK since London 2012, and was broadcast live to billions around the world, in addition to a 30,000 strong live audience.
Both productions delivered a high-octane, multi-genre and multi-cultural tribute to the history, culture, and pride within the region, featuring a now infamous 10m-tall mechanical bull, and musical performances from iconic West Midlands artists like Duran Duran, Dexy’s, Apache Indian, Beverly Knight, Goldie, Jorja Smith, Laura Mvula, Panjabi MC, UB40 and the one and only Black Sabbath.
Positioned to light the festivities was Al Gurdon of Incandescent Design, who called upon the PRG team once again to help deliver the technology and crew to achieve his vision. On assembling his team to deliver the lighting design, Gurdon selected “Richard Gorrod at PRG” for his “design associate in the planning stages…who put together and led a great team, as always, in the stadium.”
Director of Events and Special Projects Richard Gorrod worked closely with the Incandescent team to create a rig able to reliably withstand exposure to the elements for several weeks at the open-air stadium, all while delivering the power, reach and flexibility to deliver the spectacle the occasion needed.
To fit these criteria, PRG supplied a huge number of fixtures from the IP65 Elation Proteus range, including the Proteus Maximus, Proteus Excalibur, and new Proteus Rayzor Blade luminaires. Headed up by PRG Crew Chief Tim Probert, a team of twenty-nine lighting techs and operators joined the production, including local students looking for experience in our industry, to prep, install, and manage the equipment for over two months leading up to the two productions.
“Rich and the PRG team were fantastic throughout the process,” noted Birmingham Ceremonies Executive Producer, Zoe Snow. “They worked closely with us from early in the production planning stages, hosted an R&D session at the warehouse (not only lighting but supporting other FX departments and suppliers too) and were incredibly supportive to both Al and the wider technical team. Rich joined production meetings as needed and was integrated with the technical team throughout to ensure seamless planning and detail.”
On PRG’s experience at the Birmingham Ceremonies, Gorrod said: “Working with Al Gurdon and the design team is always great. The PRG team has a long working relationship with Al and his team, and this familiarity definitely helps us to deliver an exacting and adaptive service to them as a client.” “As with all Ceremonies” he adds, “the management and communication of the client’s developing needs is a great challenge, particularly when dealing with inevitable last-minute additions. The PRG team has the internal processes to adapt to these challenges well and quickly, from pre-visualise and asset management, to our expert Event Services and Operations teams.”
Based in Longbridge, PRG has also been extremely well placed to handle the massive logistical undertaking for both productions, providing quick transport, local talent and convenient rehearsal and filming space. Leading up to the colourful, nostalgic Closing ceremony, PRG’s new multi purpose rehearsal space, THE BRIDGE played host to a very special pre-record. The iconic Birmingham nightclub, The Rum Runner was beautifully recreated in the space, allowing the production to draw its audience into the depths of centre stage and through the doors of the New Romantic stomping ground. To enhance the illusion, PRG supplied a lighting rig of GLP x4s and Titan Tubes in-house, as well as a spacious Artist Dressing Room for the performers and a pre-visualisation studio in THE BRIDGE’s Gallery Space.
Looking back on his work with PRG, Birmingham Ceremonies Technical Director Gary Beestone concluded: “The PRG team were essential to the vision of these ceremonies, bringing world class kit and crew, vast experience in stadium environments but also bringing local people and resources to the production. Being rooted in Birmingham, PRG were able to showcase the local talent in the area and keep a major part of the technical execution rooted locally.”
It goes without saying that this project was a true honour for the PRG UK team to collaborate on. As a local business, we are proud to have invested our resources and talented colleagues to deliver a piece of history for the West Midlands with the Birmingham Ceremonies team.