By Shelley Graham, dramaturg
There were have been several wonderful coincidences and years of hard work that made the American Premiere of Chariots of Fire a possibility at BYU. You may be familiar with the 1981 film that was the surprise Oscar winner for Best Picture. In fact most people, whether they have seen the film or not, can hum the famous opening theme by Vangelis Papathanassiou. Here is one artist’s take on the popularity of that opening number:
Mr Bean and the Chariots of Fire Theme
By Shelley Graham, Dramaturg
Chariots of Fire takes place in Britain from roughly 1920 to 1924, a time period in which established social mores were changing rapidly. Throughout the play we see the various social classes represented. As Britain emerged from the ravages of World War I (or The Great War, as it was termed then,) there was a major rift in those social classes. Throughout the twenties, the working class would see poverty growing at an alarming rate, while the middle and upper classes fought for cultural prominence.
Early in the play we see wealthy young men arriving for their first day of school at Cambridge University. They are confronted almost immediately with men of the working class. This was the population who was most adversely affected by the war, having largely served in the infantry. Many of the working class who were fortunate enough to make it back home had serious scars and injuries resulting from their service.
The middle classes fared a bit better, having had more opportunities for self sufficiency both before and after the war. Though many of them lost inheritances and had to start over, they had a culture of industry that helped them start over again. The Liddell family is represented in this class. Continue reading
By Shelley Graham, dramaturg
June 24, 1924. The headline of the Los Angeles Times reads: “Did You Know That Famous Scotch Sprinter Will Not Run in the Olympic 100 Metres Because The Trials Are Run on Sunday.”
The famous sprinter mentioned in the headline was none other than Eric Liddell, otherwise known as “The Flying Scotsman,” and his decision not to run in the Olympic trials for his strongest event in order to honor the Sabbath was a decision that was noticed around the world. The story of his commitment to spirituality, and his spirit of competition, is told in the 1981 film, Chariots of Fire. That film was adapted for the stage in 2012, and now makes its American premiere on the Pardoe Stage at Brigham Young University.
Eric Liddell’s story was told in newspapers across the world
In our 4th Wall Dramaturgy blog for this production, over the next few weeks you will learn how tricky it is to tell the story of Olympic runners on a stage that isn’t quite big enough to hold actual 100 m. races; how rewarding it is to explore the tales of faith and determination in running and religion; and how delightful it is to share those stories with the BYU community. We hope you’ll come back often in the days and weeks leading up to the opening of this American premiere, and that you’ll enjoy learning about the process of creating this athletic, theatrical spectacle. Continue reading