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My National

Art and sport collide at London

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Olympic ambassador Stephen Fry. Pic: Jonathan Short / AP Photo
Olympic ambassador Stephen Fry.  Pic: Jonathan Short / AP Photo

The Olympics are still in the first week and already there have been more tears and tantrums than backstage at an Elton John concert.

It is all high wire, high emotion stuff so it makes sense that London’s theatre scene should embrace, and be embraced by, the sporting world.

The London 2012 Festival is part of the whole Olympic circus going on in the capital right now, bringing together stars of sport and theatre in some of the most famous venues in the city. Earlier in the week I went along to Playing The Games at the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly, home to a series of Olympic-themed talks and comedy as well as the world premier of two new plays.

As part of this series and before the Games end, Stephen Fry, the Olympic ambassador, will sit down with the 400 metre hurdle gold medallist Edwin Moses; the Billy Elliot director Stephen Daldry will chat with the two-time 10,000 metre gold medallist Haile Gebrselassie and the actor Clive Owen will interview the first ever Rwandan mountain biker to qualify for the Olympic Games, Adrien Niyonshuti.

Their disciplines may be very different but perhaps the heart-stopping anxiety of the starting block is not so very different from lights-up in a theatre. And all of them must know what it’s like to play out victory –and defeat – in front of the world.

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