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The Summer of Twenty One Two

April 13, 2011

This week I attended a very interesting event on that very subject. As most people know, 27th July until 5th September 2012 will see the Olympic and ParaOlympic (Para as in ‘Parallel,’ not ‘paralysed’ or ‘paraplegic’ or whatever many think it is) Games will take place some 11 miles from the West End theatre district.

Like many who work in the theatre industry, I was feeling that we could face an uphill task trying to blend sport and arts. It always failed at school (as one of my earlier blog entries related), it doesn’t work on TV (you should hear my language when a favourite TV programme is delayed by an over-running game), and I guess I carry the stereotypical image of countless bone-headed sports interviews where neither athlete nor interviewer display much in the way of appreciation of anything outside their sweaty worlds.

The bigger fear, though, is that the summer will put off regular theatre audiences, who’ll skip London on the grounds that we are overcrowded, with higher than usual prices and just plain going to be uncomfortable for artistic souls for 14 days.

The message I took home from my event was, “tell everybody it isn’t true.” So I am.

The facts are that the games happen well away from the theatre area. Two thirds of events will happen at times when no shows are on – during the day. Going by previous Olympic experiences, as one fellow delegate observed, last-minute hotel rooms were never cheaper! Plus, you get a free travelcard with your sports ticket, so you have the freedom of the network AND London’s transportation will never have worked better, they promise.

While the athletes may have other things on their minds (and not just competing – records show phenomenal numbers of, well, you knows, being used at the last games in the athletes’ village… indicating horizontal jogging is a popular warm-down exercise) all athletes have an entourage and – one golfer aside – they may well be mixed enough to wish to take in a show.

It may take time and imagination to put something together, but there’s no real reason why London’s most famous ticket selling industry can’t feed off London’s newest one. Remember, the sports only last 14 days, but for 10 weeks either side, it’s going to be a heck of a warm-up and warm-down party… you’d be daft to miss it!

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