Criterion to Host Series of Olympic Events and Plays, With Appearances by Stephen Daldry, Stephen Fry, Eddie Izzard
By Mark Shenton
The West End's Criterion Theatre, located at Piccadilly Circus and home to the long-running production of The 39 Steps, is to host a season called Playing the Games that will celebrate both artistic and sporting talent featuring emerging and established actors, comedians, musicians, playwrights and Olympians.
The season, which brings culture and sport together, will see past and present Olympians taking to the stage for a series of lunchtime discussions about their life and work, with interviews conducted by Stephen Daldry (Creative Executive Producer of Ceremonies for the 2012 London Olympic Games, and director of Billy Elliot onstage and also its prior film version), Stephen Fry and Clive Owen.
In addition Sam Hodges, producer of the Criterion Theatre, has commissioned two new plays by emerging British playwrights Serge Cartwright and Adam Brace in response to the presence of the Olympic Games in London. The season is co-curated by Stephen Fry, who will also join Eddie Izzard and Brian Blessed for Sporting Stories before Bedtime, a late-night reading of sporting tales.
The lunchtime interview series will see TV presenter and columnist Rick Edwards interviewing Kriss Akabusi, the 4 x 400 metre relay silver medallist, on July 30; Stephen Fry interviewing Edwin Moses, the 400 metre hurdle gold medallist, unbeaten for nine years, on Aug. 6; Stephen Daldry interivewing Haile Gebrseselassie, the two-time 10,000 metre gold medallist, on Aug. 7, and Clive Owen interviewing Adrien Niyonshuti, ex-child soldier and the first ever Rwandan to qualify for the Games in his event, who will represent Team Rwanda in Cross Country Mountain Biking at the 2012 London Olympics, on Aug. 10.
Hodges will direct Serge Cartwright's After the Party for a series of afternoon performamcnes, beginning July 28 and running at different times through Aug. 12. Sophie Cosson, David Fynn, Malcolm Hamilton, Kate Lamb and Richard Riddell will appear in the play, which revolves around Sean and Ray, who are best friends from Stratford. Once a promising DJ double act, now they're stuck in a rut: 30ish, unemployed but still clinging to a fantasy of making it in the music industry. With a baby on the way and the world about to arrive on their doorstep for London 2012, it could be the perfect opportunity for them to make something of their lives.
Charlotte Gwinner will direct Obi Abili and Paul Moriarty in Adam Brace's Taking Part for a series of afernoon performances, beginning July 27 and running at different times through Aug. 12. In the play, Lucky Henry, a Congolese security guard, has set his sights set on representing his country at the 2012 Olympics. There's only one problem; he's a terrible swimmer and his Russian coach wants to fly home on the first day of training.
There will also be appearances by stand-up comics Mark Watson (July 26), Alan Davies (July 29) and Stephen K. Amos (July 31).
Sporting Stories Before Bedtime will take place Aug. 10.
To book tickets, contact the box office on 0844-8471778, or visit www.criterion-theatre.co.uk for more details.
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