Programme For Playing The Games At The Criterion Theatre

Posted on 26 April 2012

From 26 July - 12 August 2012, the Criterion Theatre will present Playing The Games, a programme of work which will celebrate both artistic and sporting talent featuring emerging and established actors, comedians, musicians, playwrights and Olympians. The star-studded programme is led by Kriss Akabusi, Alan Davies, Rick Edwards, Stephen Fry, Edwin Moses and Mark Watson.  

Bringing culture and sport together, past and present Olympians will take to the stage for a series of lunchtime discussions about their life and work, interviewed by television and stage personalities.  In addition, Sam Hodges, Producer of the Criterion Theatre, has commissioned two new plays in response to the presence of the Olympic Games in London by emerging British playwrights Serge Cartwright and Adam Brace. Late night events will include performances by leading musicians and comedians.  Stephen Fry, Chairman of the Criterion Theatre, has co-curated Playing The Games along with Hodges.  
Further artists and Olympians involved in Playing The Games will be announced shortly with tickets for the season going on sale on 23 May 2012.
Sam Hodges, Producer at the Criterion Theatre, said:  As the Artistic Director of the HighTide Festival, I was privileged to develop and produce the work of some of Britain’s most exciting new voices. Now that I’m in the West End, it’s a thrill to take some of those talented artists with me and champion their work at a time when the eyes of the world are on London. To be working with Stephen Fry to put together a programme with some of history’s finest athletes and comics, whilst commissioning new work at the same time, is a great honour. I look forward to the Criterion Theatre becoming full of the Olympic spirit for just over two weeks.
Stephen Fry
, Chairman of the Criterion Theatre, said:  “As Chairman of the Criterion Theatre, I am very proud to announce a programme like none other across the West End to coincide with the Olympic Games. We want the Criterion Theatre to be at the very heart of London’s cultural goings-on for tourists and Londoners alike. It’s unheard of to be commissioning and producing new plays by unknown writers especially for a West End theatre – and Playing the Games puts them at the very core of what we do, with world-famous comedians, sportsmen and women, and musicians thrown in for good measure.”
Each lunchtime at 1pm a leading performer will interview a world-renowned sporting legend or Olympian on the stage of the Criterion Theatre.  Tickets are £12.50 - £25.00.  
Monday 30 July - Television presenter and columnist Rick Edwards will interview Kriss Akabusi the 4 x 400 metre relay Silver medalist.
Monday 6 August - Actor and Olympic Ambassador Stephen Fry will interview Edwin Moses, the 400 metre hurdle Gold medallist, unbeaten for nine years.  
Further sports champions who will take part in the series include the 10000 metre Gold medallist Haile Gebrseselassie.  Dates and interviewers will be announced shortly.    
After the Party by Serge Cartwright
Sam Hodges will direct the world premiere of Serge Cartwright’s After the Party playing at the Criterion.  Confirmed dates, casting and further members of the production team will be announced shortly.
Sean and Ray are best friends from Stratford. They were once a promising UK Garage duo - DJ Slinky P and MC Sting Ray - but now they're stuck in a rut: 30ish, unemployed but still clinging to a fantasy of making it in the music industry. Everything around them is changing. The world is about to arrive on their doorstep for London 2012. It could be the perfect opportunity for them to make something of their lives, but for that to happen they'll also need to uncover a few home truths about themselves and each other.
Serge Cartwright worked as a television journalist in London before spending a year in Moscow with an English-language television station backed by the Kremlin.  His play, Moscow Live, produced by HighTide in 2010, was a response to his time in the capital.   Now working in London, Cartwright continues as a broadcast journalist.  His most recent play, The Matter in Hand, was long-listed for the Bruntwood Prize.
Sam Hodges is the Producer at the Criterion Theatre.  Before joining the Criterion last year, he was the Artistic Director of HighTide Festival Theatre, which he founded in 2006.  For HighTide he programmed five festivals and produced over 25 plays internationally and launched the Old Vic Tunnels.  Hightide also became a member of the National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England during his Artistic Directorship. For the Criterion, in October last year Hodges launched Criterion Presents, a series of shows, events and panel discussions that run alongside The 39 Steps.  He also conceived and directed the Stories Before Bedtime series which featured Mark Gatiss, Tom Hiddleston, Russell Tovey, Andrew Scott and Billy Boyd.  He directed live ‘foley’ performances of Tom Stoppard’s Artists Descending A Staircase with James Fleet and Katherine Parkinson.  Hodges wrote the award-winning short film Player, starring Pete Postlethwaite and Celia Imrie, and recently wrote and directed Double Take, a short dance film commissioned by BAFTA and Big Dance for Channel 4.  
Taking Part by Adam Brace
Playing the Games will present the world premiere of Adam Brace’s Taking Part.   Confirmed dates, casting and members of the production team will be announced shortly.
Kompolo is the first Congolese swimmer ever to qualify for the Olympic Games. Grigory, his Russian coach, is well past his glory years and doesn’t hugely rate Kompolo’s chances, but is determined to do something to win back the admiration of his son. Everyone loves an underdog – think Eddie the Eagle or Eric the Eel. But what happens when the underdog gets too wise?
Adam Brace’s first full length play, Stovepipe, was presented at HighTide Festival Theatre and transferred to London in collaboration with the Bush and National Theatre.  His other writing includes Midnight Your Time, also for HighTide, Jimmy McGhie’s Artificial Intelligence, The Four Stages of Cruelty, Because It’s There and Fran Moulds’ Curtains.
During the Playing The Games season, on Friday and Saturday late nights at 10.30pm and Sunday nights at 7.30pm comedians and musicians will take to the Criterion stage.  Stand-up comedian and novelist Mark Watson and writer, comedian and actor Alan Davies are confirmed for the season with dates and other performers to be announced shortly.