At one point on Tuesday evening, as Michael Scott-Mitchell was speaking about the challenges he faced designing the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, the suspense was almost unbearable, my heart was in my mouth. The incredible scale of of the projects Michael has undertaken had already wowed me into a state of awe, but, as H.H Sheikh Mohammed Al-Thani, the Emir’s son, rode the Australian purebred Arabian stallion called Monty up the 26⁰ incline to light the Asian game’s cauldron I was literally on the edge of my seat. This event, along with many other examples from Michael’s work, confirmed in me just how great – great design can be; The atmosphere, the excitement, the magic created when a large scale event is well designed cannot be valued highly enough. The senses of well-being, awe, pride and enthusiasm generated by being witness-to a well designed event has the power to change lives. These are the kinds of moments recollected time and again over a lifetime by millions of people. Michael spoke about designing the lighting of the Sydney 2000 Olympic games and the internationally acclaimed Der Ring Des Nibelungen staged in Adelaide 2004. He spoke of the difficult but essential task of sticking to a good idea despite nay sayers declaring it impossible. And, as Michael spoke, he revealed a calm demeanor, an attention to detail, an eye for beauty, a quick wit and a humble ability to acknowledge the teams of people he works with – giving special mention to Carson Andreas. It was a fascinating presentation not in the least because it illustrated what kind of character is able to take on the responsibility of designing staged events on such a massive scale and do it so well. Michael is currently Head of Design at NIDA and is designing Dr Zhavigo, the musical, which will open in February 2011. The APDG would like to thank NIDA for their support and for hosting such a wonderful evening. Watch the lighting of the Asian Games cauldron on YOUTUBE here.
Article by Peter Sheehan