To help provide a warm and uniquely Brummie welcome to this summer’s Commonwealth Games, a special ceremony will be performed by local students and Birmingham based theatre professionals when the 6,500 athletes and team officials from the 72 nations and territories arrive at the three Birmingham 2022 campus villages located across the region.

Multidisciplinary performance company LYNNEBEC and students aged between 16 and 18 from Birmingham Ormiston Academy, BOA Stage & Screen Production Academy, will present ‘A Thousand Welcomes’ which will offer a colourful welcome to competing athletes and team officials.

Celebrating Birmingham’s innovation, community and diversity, the welcome ceremonies will showcase the city’s heritage of dance and cuisine, as well as share stories that have inspired the people that make Birmingham their home.

The 30 minute performance will include a dance party, featuring Birmingham’s famous rag markets and Bullring, unsung heroes of the city, iconic Birmingham dishes and a fusion of physical theatre and traditional dance. The welcome ceremonies will reflect the diversity and youth of the host city and region, delivering a fun and fully accessible experience (which includes audio description for visually impaired audience members), ending in an invitation for the athletes to join the party. 

The ceremonies will take place at one of the campus villages and will include a welcome speech from the Chef De Mission (the team leader) and the raising of the nation or territory’s flag whilst their national anthem is played.

Performing the ceremonies will be 28 students aged between 16 and 18 from BOA Stage and Screen Production Academy, who are studying acting. Students will also work on the set design, stage management, props and costume for each performance.

Performing students will be accompanied by a cast of five professional dancers including Birmingham born, Vidya Patel, a former finalist of the BBC Young Dancer of the year competition. The professional dancers will help support the students to develop their talent and expertise.

A Thousand Welcomes is set to be a wonderful celebration of joy and connection
Louisa Davies, Senior Producer for the Birmingham 2022 Festival

Louisa Davies, Senior Producer for the Birmingham 2022 Festival, said: “A Thousand Welcomes is set to be a wonderful celebration of joy and connection for visiting nations and territories of the Commonwealth and all of the teams will receive a very warm welcome from the local people involved.

“The two Birmingham based companies delivering the welcome ceremonies have created something that is vibrant, full of energy and representative of the host city and we are delighted to involve young, local students to be part of the Games in this way.”

Michael Painter, Principal of BOA Stage & Screen Production Academy, said: “We are extremely excited to have this opportunity to contribute to the Commonwealth Games, which are going to be fantastic for Birmingham, the region and our creative and cultural industries. For our students this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, yet at the same time, working with LYNNEBEC reflects nicely the work we are doing with other professional production companies across the sector at the moment. Very exciting times for all involved!”

Cat Butler/ Jess Barber, Co-Founder of LYNNEBEC, said: “We are incredibly honoured and privileged to have been invited to deliver the team welcome ceremonies. For LYNNEBEC, it’s a dream to be creating a show of this scale, sharing a slice of what makes Birmingham and the Midlands so special with an international audience. 

It’s been a joy re-creating what makes a brummie welcome so unique. For all the creatives and young people involved, we are really proud and excited to welcome the athletes to this street party.”

The welcome ceremonies will be private events for the competing nations and territories and will be held at the three campus villages that are being set up for the Games. These are located at the University of Birmingham, the NEC and the University of Warwick.