Sila Sveta and Katara Studios collaborated for AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 Opening Ceremony stage design

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AFC Asian Cup Qatar

On 12 January, the main show of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 opening ceremony took place at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar, commissioned by our partner, Katara Studios. Sila Sveta was responsible for developing the stage design and all the visual content. This ceremony was unique and differed from the usual concepts of AFC Asian Cup Qatar, resulting in a blend of a complex setup, stage elements, and heightened theatricality.

“We created a concept where each stage design element intertwined history and culture. At the heart of the stage concept for The Lost Chapter of Kelileh & Demneh show was the idea of unity between the East and Asia. The script was dedicated 
to a Sanskrit collection of fables popular in the Arab world. Dunes symbolized the Arab world, while pink petals paid homage to the magnolia and sakura, symbols of Asia”, said Magrifa Kamiyeva, Sila Sveta’s producer of the show.

The dunes were made from a lightweight material to facilitate their quick assembly on a football field, akin to a puzzle. To make the dunes look realistic, we projected images and contour lighting onto them, creating voluminous and unusual shapes adorned with sparkling animations and glitter.

“We didn’t just create a texture that mimics real sand, but we also utilized the geometry of the dunes and took into account the laws of physics to ensure that the wave projections on them looked as they would in real life,” Arthur Kondrashenkov, Sila Sveta’s Creative Producer responsible for the show, told in an interview.

A key design feature was the use of shell-shaped screens. This choice was deliberate: they served as a bridge to the past, reminiscent of the times when pearl diving was the main industry of Qatar itself. “The show was designed to look beautiful from any point in the stadium, not just from one side of the stands. Five screens enabled a 360-degree view, corresponding to the number of regional federations that make up the AFC”, Magriga adds.

The content on the screens matched the plot of the musical Kelileh & Demneh, performed by the actors on stage. The narrative focuses on the main character’s journey to accept his flaws alongside his virtues, aided by magical animals. “We turned this self-acceptance into an allegory, using imagery from the song lyrics. The content did not just copy what happened on stage but metaphorically showed the story,” Arthur explains.

A mascot was chosen for each of the 24 national teams participating in the cup – an animal representing the respective country. These images were brought to life by artists in costumes of anthropomorphic animals. For instance, the symbol for Qatar was the Arabian oryx, a saber-horned antelope playing a crucial role in the local ecosystem. The panda, often mentioned in Chinese literature and art, represents China and is part of the country’s natural heritage. Indonesia’s symbol was the Komodo dragon, the largest lizard species on the planet, only found in the wild there.

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