Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The Prize – New Play Using Olympic Athletes’ True Stories

The Prize is a new play being played at the Live Theatre featuring testimonials of 23 people who have in some way been affected by the Olympics or the Paralympics.
The aim is to represent a wide range of athletes and share their experiences with the Olympic games.  The creators, Steve Gilroy and Richard Stockwell run a theatre company called Murmur. Richard explained their reasons for using the Olympics as inspiration by saying, “I thought all around the country there are athletes preparing for this big thing and some will get there and some won’t.  I thought there must be some stories that are worth telling.”
Those whose stories feature in the show include Olympic silver medal-winning runner Roger Black, Paralympian thrower Stephen Miller and diver Charmian Welsh, who became the youngest Great Britain team member (age 15) at the Helsinki Olympic Games in 1952.
The five cast members will voice the 23 athletes’ stories on stage and play multiple people.  The cast includes Chris Connel, Helen Embleton, Serocca Davis, Melissa Johns and Carl Kennedy.  Carl will play Roger Black along with Nick Beighton, a British Army Officer who lost both his legs. He will compete in the mixed double sculls at the Olympics this year.
The hope is that The Prize will give a more genuine portrayal of how the Olympics can affect people from many different walks of life.  Each athlete involved was interviewed for an average of 2 hours, which differs from the quick conversations we normally see with athletes after an event.  It is hoped to give more insight into their goals and desire to win.
Chris Connel who will play Norman Strike and Paralympic powerlifter Ali Jawad echoed this by saying, “One of the things we’ve discovered in doing this piece is that the prize (of the title) is different for some people.”
The Prize seems a great way to get to know the athletes as people, rather than just a name we associate with a sport. This is another example of where the Olympics and culture have collided, in the likes of Chariots of Fire as well as the arts in general being popular and promoted during the Olympics.

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