2016-2017 Season,  Chariots of Fire

Birth of the Actor Athlete

By Amelia Johnson, Assistant Dramaturg

What did it take to be a cast member of this show? Time, hard work, and a lot of sweat. But, that is to be expected when your show is about Olympic runners. When you have a passion for something, you strive to be as good as you can at it. When your passion is acting, sometimes you learn new skills in order to play a part. Our actors embraced this and became actor athletes.

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In addition to learning their lines, blocking, and working to understand their characters, our actor athletes took part in training to get in the physical shape of a runner. They were given training schedules for every day of the week and met together at 6:00 AM  twice a week to exercise together.

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But how does all this work translate to the stage?

Choreographer Becky Phillips gives us some insight into her process.

She says “I tried to watch running on youtube and watch track meet clips and watch the movie and take the movements that runners use to abstract them. With the movie there are slow motion clips and we can’t do that, but you have to play with space and time to make that happen.”

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“The performers are part of the process. They are helping to create it because I can’t really do everyone’s part and see if I like it without experimenting with them and seeing how it works.”

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“Even just a simple movement has this power when they all do it together. It can be just a simple step or move, but when you have all these bodies and all of their energy, it’s really powerful even though it’s simple.”

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“We have people in the cast that are dancers to so they can really do movements that aren’t just running. In the opening we want to showcase the things that they can do. They can tumble, they can leap, and do things that show their athleticism and we are abstracting images from other sports into that opening sequence. We want to celebrate the athleticism of these performers and capture that spirit of the athletic training and celebrate what the body can do”.

With the physical exercise, the dance choreography, and the demands of character creation, these actor athletes have had quite a task before them!

See this celebration of sport, dance, and physicality starting March 31st!


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