Nikki Charlesworth on creating the opening ceremony of the World Cerebral Palsy Games

Date published: 8 Aug 2015

Posted by: Joe Pick

Silk with 'Be Happy' painted on it

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Nikki Charlesworth is an undergraduate Theatre Design student at Nottingham Trent University. In this blog she talks about her involvement in the Nottingham 2015 CPISRA World Games.

In September 2014, I attended a meeting that would lead to me joining the creative team producing the opening, closing and medals ceremonies of the World Cerebral Palsy Games.

It seemed unlikely that an event would occur in my hometown that encapsulates three of my main interests – theatre design, large-scale theatrical production and disability arts. I was born with cerebral palsy, so to have a creative role in the ceremonies of an international sporting event that celebrates the achievement of people with CP feels like a perfect combination of circumstance and skill.

I was encouraged to get involved by my tutor, Sean Myatt. Before starting University I had created a set of puppets with Cerebral Palsy. When I showed them to Sean he arranged for me talk to City Arts about a student placement on the ceremonies team.

Your chance to achieve your own personal greatness

There have been loads of opportunities for me to contribute: I’ve led workshops, turned giant paper oak leaves into wreaths, designed costumes for the actors to wear in the opening ceremonies, and supported other artists working on the project. Yesterday, Si Tew and I listened to recordings of local school children talking about their aspirations – which were turned into bold, vivid silk paintings to be displayed in the opening ceremony- and they were brilliant, really fun. There was a great positive energy circulating the room, which is essential to have on a project like this. Si is producing the music for the ceremonies.

One of the workshops was a silk painting session for people involved in the National Citizen Service, the results of which will be used in the opening and displayed throughout the games. It was really exciting: I explained cerebral palsy to over two hundred students – I felt like a lecturer!

Actors wearing costumes

Whilst it doesn’t sound exciting I’ve learnt a huge amount from sitting in at technical meetings – it’s helped me understand how an event of this scale is realised.

One of the best features of the games is that disabled people are represented in all areas, as members of the creative team and the organising committee, not just as athletes. I have a few friends who are competing and it’s cool that I can say that I’m part of this as well, in my own field.

Overall, I hope that working on such a high profile event will be a step towards me becoming more involved with the disability arts community. It has been a fantastic opportunity.

I’m most excited about the last couple of days before the opening ceremony kicks off, when things start to get a little panicked (I hope I don’t regret saying that!), as so far I’ve seen all the different elements in bits and pieces – I can’t wait to see it all come together.