AT the 2012 Olympic Games it is inevitable that some world records will be broken demonstrating how successive generations of athletes seem to be able to push the boundaries to better performances.
A new play opening in the Crucible Studio next week, LeanerFasterStronger, will explore the limits of human attainment. It will examine the themes of enhancement, new science and bioengineering and ask the question, how far would you go to be the best?
Written by award-winning writer Kaite O’Reilly and directed by Sheffield Theatres’ Creative Producer Andrew Loretto the play will be performed by four actors with real-time film projections designed by interactive media artist, Shanaz Gulzar.
LeanerFasterStronger forms part of Extraordinary Moves, an arts and science partnership between Chol Theatre, Sheffield Hallam University and iMove, Yorkshire’s Cultural Olympiad programme.
Dr David James from the Centre for Sports Engineering Research at Sheffield Hallam University, said that they and Huddersfield-based Chol had both taken part in an event in Dewsbury in 2008 at the time of the Olympic handover and the idea of working together on a larger project was hatched.
“Theatre is not natural territory for me. We have done lots of public engagement work looking at the scientific aspect of sport and I welcomed the idea of using art as a medium to encourage people to look at some of these issues.”
“We are about arts engagement,” says Susan Burns, director of Chol Theatre, co-producers of the show with Sheffield Theatres. “We perform street theatre and arts events in places like shopping centres and football stadiums.”
Doing something about the Olympics was a good fit for them as was another aspect. “Diversity is our niche, bringing together people from different backgrounds and giving them creative opportunities.”
Before coming to Sheffield Theatres Andrew Loretto had worked with Chol and was keen to bring the project to the Crucible and it was he who brought Katie O’Reilly on board as writer.
“We introduced her to the whole realm of sport – the rules, the ethics and all kinds of other aspects and she produced the first draft about a year ago,” said James.
Added Burns: “It has a clear story. It looks at contemporary and the future of sport, the limits of what your body can do and how that reflects on both able and disabled athletes. It asks how far would you go to be the best.”
“The context is a conference debate and it consists of personal narratives of different sports people,” continued James.
“I love sport but there’s an underbelly in all sorts of areas which we sweep under the carpet and this play shine a light into some provocative areas and will leave audiences with questions as well as giving them a joyful experience.”
LeanerFasterStronger will première in the Crucible Studio Theatre on Wednesday, May 23, and continue to June 2.