The artistic director of the Gay Games opening and closing events, Ignatius Jones, has promised to deliver a pair of ceremonies that will be out, outrageous and on time.

Our ceremonies will showcase the incredibly rich, diverse, colourful and fabulous world that is our community, he said. We’ll have massed choirs, mass talent, national and international, marching boys, marching girls and everything in between. It will be the greatest party we’ve ever put on and you’re all invited.

Thirty-eight thousand tickets for the opening ceremony went on sale yesterday, and while the marketing pitch for the event is currently long on colour but short on specifics, Gay Games organisers are banking on a sell-out.

While Jones would not be drawn on the names of any guest performers (not even Kylie Minogue, who will be touring at the time of the Games), he told Sydney Star Observer that the opening ceremony would deliver value for money.

If you can think of three Mardi Gras rolled into one, that’s the kind of thing we’re planning to do, he said.

The opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games -“ of which Jones was a segment director -“ had helped give Australia the reputation of being a nation that did big events well, he said.

The opening ceremony of the Olympics redefined not only how the world thought about Australia, but also in a sense how Australians thought about themselves, and that result surprised us all. The tongue-tied blonde Anglo Aussie of clich?as nowhere to be seen. Instead we had a mad, multicoloured, multicultural Mardi Gras, that owed more to Oxford Street than to Anzac Parade, he quipped.

Although Jones said the Gay Games were very important from a human rights point of view, his vision for the ceremonies would appear to wrap polemics in a theatrical exterior.

I really think the best way to make a political statement is not to actually make it, he said. It’s to go out there and show how wonderful you are and how much fun you’re having. The minute you write something on a placard and shove it in somebody’s face -¦ you’ve lost half the battle. And that’s why the best theatre is not didactic, the best theatre is fabulous. That’s what I hope to bring to it.

Joining Jones in delivering the two ceremonies is a bevy of ex-Olympic and ex-Mardi Gras event specialists. Katrina Marton will produce the two events in association with Di Lynn and Brenton Kewley, while Jane Becker will direct the design elements and Virginia Ferris will direct the choreography. Musical direction for the ceremonies will be by Max Lambert, while indigenous artists Raymond Blanco and Idis Art will devise the welcoming segment of the opening ceremony.

An indigenous flavour will also be lent to the closing ceremony, Corroboree. A free event to be held at Fox Studios, Corroboree will have a relaxed and informal ambience, including a Big Barbie at 5pm.

We thought that two ticketed stadium events in one week was too much, Jones said. Moreover, what the closing ceremony is about is saying, -˜Keep in touch, good on ya, and haven’t we had a great time.’ So that’s what we’ve tried to make it. We’ve tried to make it a truly community event, a free event, one which includes every single person who participated.

Although the closing ceremony will include ceremonial aspects such as the handover of the Gay Games flag to Montr?, the accent will be on fun, Jones said.

We want the international contingent to go home with great memories. And our phone numbers, he said.

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