Owen, Izzard et al Join PLAYING THE GAMES

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. Tickets for Playing The Games are now on sale.

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 leading arts personalities. In addition Sam Hodges, Producer of the Criterion Theatre, has commissioned two new plays by emerging British playwrights Serge Cartwright and Adam Brace in response to the presence of the Olympic Games in London. Late night events will include performances by leading comedians. Stephen Fry, Chairman of the Criterion Theatre, has co-curated Playing The Games along with Hodges.

Sam Hodges said: “As well as welcoming Paper Cinema to the Criterion for their West End debut, we are delighted to announce that Richard Riddell and David Fynn will lead the cast in Serge Cartwright’s After the Party and Paul Moriarty and Obi Abili will perform Adam Brace’s two hander, Taking Part. In addition Stephen Daldry, theatre and film director and Creative Executive Producer of Ceremonies for the 2012 London Olympic Games, will interview Haile Gebrseselassie as part of our Lunchtimes series and actor and film star Clive Owen will interview Adrien Niyonshuti. Eddie Izzard will join Brian Blessed and Stephen Fry for Sporting Stories before Bedtime.”


Each lunchtime at 1pm a leading arts personality will interview a world-renowned sporting legend or Olympian on the stage of the Criterion Theatre. Tickets are £10 - £35.00.

Monday 30 July - Television presenter and columnist RiCK Edwards will interview Kriss Akabusi the 4 x 400 metre relay silver medallist.

Monday 6 August - Actor and presenter Olympic Ambassador Stephen Fry will interview Edwin Moses, the 400 metre hurdle gold medallist, unbeaten for nine years.

Tuesday 7 August – Film and theatre director and Creative Executive Producer of Ceremonies for the London Olympic Games Stephen Daldry will interview Haile Gebrseselassie, the two time 10,000 metre gold medallist.

Friday 10 August – Actor Clive Owen will interview Adrien Niyonshuti, ex child soldier and the first ever Rwandan to qualify for the Games in his event. He will represent Team Rwanda in Cross Country Mountain Biking at the 2012 London Olympics.


After the Party by Serge Cartwright

Sam Hodges will direct Sophie Cosson, David Fynn, Malcolm Hamilton, Kate Lamb and Richard Riddell in the world premiere of Serge Cartwright’s After the Party playing at the Criterion. Designs are by James Cotterill with lighting by Emma Chapman and sound by Gregory Clarke.

Performances of After The Party are - previews Saturday 28 July at 1pm, Sunday 29 July at 3pm, Monday 30 July at 2.30pm (press performance), then Tuesday 31 July at 4.15pm, Thursday 2 August at 2.30pm, Friday 3 August at 4.15pm, Sunday 5 August at 5pm, Monday 6 August at 4.15pm, Tuesday 7 August at 2.30pm, Thursday 9 August at 4.15pm (captioned performance), Friday 10 August at 2.30pm (audio described performance) and Sunday 12 August 5pm. Preview tickets are £7.50, then £7.50, £10.00 and £15.00.

Sean and Ray are best friends from Stratford. Once a promising DJ double act, now they're stuck in a rut: 30ish, unemployed but still clinging to a fantasy of making it in the music industry. With a baby on the way and the world about to arrive on their doorstep for London 2012, it could be the perfect opportunity for them to make something of their lives.... After the Party is a fresh, comic take on an everyday Londoner’s attempt to go from rank outsider to out and out winner.

Sophie Cosson’s (Chelle) theatre credits include The Changeling for Southwark Playhouse, the international tour of Much Ado About Nothing, Two Women for Theatre Royal Straford East and Greenwich Playhouse’s production of The Comedy of Errors. Cosson also starred in the BBC Radio 3 radio drama The Wire and has also had roles in BBC Radio 4’s The Archers, Doctor Who and Call the Midwife where she played Ingrid Mason.

David Fynn (Ray) has recently been seen in She Stoops to Conquer at The National Theatre. His other theatre credits include 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee for the Donmar Warehouse, Mojo for the Royal Shakespeare Company and All My Sons for Leicester Curve. His film credits include Sonambulists and Leap Year. On television he has been seen in Big Bad World, Game of Thrones, Life's Too Short, Manfred, Pete Versus Life, Doctor Who, Black Mirror, Peep Show and The Inbetweeners.

Malcolm Hamilton (Keith) has most recently been in Theatre Alibi’s The Crowstarver. His other theatre credits include Bristol Old Vic’s The Morpeth Carol, Digits at the Tobacco Factory and Reckoning at the Ustinov Studio, Theatre Royal Bath. He has appeared in the radio plays Chess Girls, Beasts on the Lawn, Shy Baby, Paradise Place and Beyond Black, all for BBC Radio 4.

Kate Lamb (Natalie/Carmela) is making her West End debut in After the Party. She has previously been seen in How to be Happy and The Conspirators both for the Orange Tree Theatre, Water’s Not So Thick for the Tobacco Company and has performed at The Royal Court Theatre’s Genesis Foundation Gala.

Richard Riddell (Sean) has most recently been seen in Michael Attenborough’s production of Filumena at The Almeida Theatre. His extensive stage credits include The Homecoming directed by David Farr and Rupert Goold’s production of The Merchant of Venice, both for the Royal Shakespeare Company as well as The Comedy of Errors and Titus Andronicus at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. On film his credits include The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus in which he playEd Martin, Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, Weekender, Act of God and recently Blitz. On television Riddell has been seen in A Warriors Tale, Misfits, Merlin, Waking the Dead and Fanny Hill.
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, produced over 25 plays internationally and launched the Old Vic Tunnels. 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. Hodges wrote the award-winning short film Player, starring Pete Postlethwaite and Celia Imrie, and wrote and directed Double Take, a short dance film commissioned as part of the Big Dance programme for Channel 4.

Taking Part by Adam Brace

Charlotte Gwinner will direct Obi Abili and Paul Moriarty in the world premiere of Adam Brace’s two-handerTaking Part. Designs are by James Cotterill with lighting by Emma Chapman and sound by Gregory Clarke.

Performances of Taking Part are - previews Friday 27 July at 1pm, Sunday 29 July at 5pm, Monday 30 July at 4.15pm (press performance), then Tuesday 31 July at 2.30pm, Thursday 2 August at 4.15pm, Friday 3 August at 2.30pm, Sunday 5 August at 3pm, Monday 6 August at 2.30pm, Tuesday 7 August at 4.15pm, Thursday 9 August at 2.30pm (captioned performance), Friday 10 August at 4.15pm (audio described performance) and Sunday 12 August at 3pm. Preview tickets are £7.50, then £7.50, £10.00 and £15.00.

Lucky Henry, a Congolese security guard, has set his sights set on representing his country at the 2012 Olympics. Only one problem; he’s a terrible swimmer and his Russian coach wants to fly home on the first day of training. Everyone loves an underdog – think Eddie the Eagle or Eric the Eel. Follow Henry’s journey from deep end straggler to Olympic hopeful as the two men try to fulfill their dreams at the London games. Taking part is a funny, timely tale of true grit, self belief and canny opportunism.

Obi Abili (Henry), who played Paul in Six Degrees of Separation at The Old Vic and Iarbus in Dido Queen of Carthage at National Theatre, has also been seen in Play House at the Orange Tree, The Brothers Size at the Young Vic and Angels in America for Headlong Theatre and Lyric Hammersmith. On television his credits include Strikeback II, Foyles War, Kingdom, Afterlife, Moses Jones and Ten Days to War. Film credits include World War Z and Gambit.

Paul Moriarty’s (Grigory) more recent theatre credits include Titanic for Belfast MAC, Translations for Leicester Curve, 1984 for Manchester Royal Exchange and Rosmersholm, Richard II, Coriolanus all for The Almeida Theatre Moriarty has also worked extensively for The National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. His screen credits include Ashes to Ashes, Holby City, Jack of Hearts, Eastenders, A Touch of Frost, The Knock, Murder Most Horrid, Pride and Prejudice, Shine on Harvey Moon and Hidden Agenda.

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.
Charlotte Gwinner was Associate Director at The Bush from 2009 - 2011 where she directed Our New Girl, Little Dolls, both by Nancy Harris, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover and The Knowledge by John Donnelly, Further directing credits include: Benefactors as part of the Michael Frayn season at Sheffield Crucible, Knives and Hens at the Ustinov Bath Theatre Royal, The Confederate for the Trafalgar Studios, Men Should Weep for Oxford Stage Company/The Citizens Theatre,The Blood of Others for the Arcola, The Country of The Blind for the Gate Theatre. She is Artistic Director and Founder of award winning company ANGLE Theatre, most recently producing its second season "ANGLE at the Bush" at the Bush.
During the Playing The Games season some of the UK’s leading stand-up comedians will take to the Criterion stage for one off performances. Tickets are £15.00 - £25.00.

Thursday 26 July - Award winning stand-up and novelist Mark Watson is one of Britain's best loved comedians who year on year plays to sold-out crowds at the Edinburgh Festival and throughout the UK.
Sunday 29 July - writer, comedian and actor Alan Davies performs a one off West End gig, his first UK stand up appearance in 12 years.
Tuesday 31 July – Comedian Stephen K Amos, who regularly performs his show worldwide, appears at the Criterion following a major sell out Australian tour.

AND …..

Friday 10 August at 10.30pm - Sporting stories before bedtime – Brian Blessed, Stephen Fry and Eddie Izzard will read from a collection of literature’s funniest and most iconic sporting tales. Tickets are £15 - £35.

Brian Blessed has worked extensively in theatre, on film, on television and on radio. In addition to his acting achievements, Blessed is an active mountaineer. He conquered Mont Blanc at the age of seventeen, has climbed Kilimanjaro and Aconcagua and currently holds the record for being the oldest explorer to reach the North Pole on foot. Actor, screenwriter, author, comedian, television presenter and co-curator of the Playing The Games Season, Stephen Fry will play Malvolio in Twelfth Night later this year at the Globe and Apollo Theatres. He has appeared in many critically acclaimed and much loved documentaries as well as many appearances on film and on television. Award-winning stand-up comedian and actor and Eddie Izzard completed 43 marathons in 51 days for Comic Relief for which received a special award at BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2009 for his achievements.

Sunday 12 August at 1pm – Paper Cinema: The Odyssey - Homer’s epic adventure brought uniquely to life in 70 minutes through puppets, live cinema and a three piece band. Tickets are £15 (£10 concessions). This is Paper Cinema’s West End debut.

Raging storms and supernatural forces prevail over one man’s almighty quest to get home. Immerse yourself in a journey through the high seas, soak up the adventure and encounter danger and exhilaration. Homer’s cornerstone of literature is vividly told with beautiful illustration and masterful puppetry. Cinematic projection and cunning tricks transform a suitcase full of cut-out paper puppets into an array of living characters and striking landscapes.

The Paper Cinema, founded in 2004 by Nicholas Rawling, perform a unique form of live animation to an original music score, touring bespoke pieces around Britain and internationally. The Paper Cinema has played venues including: Tate Britain, The V&A, The Barbican, Traverse Theatre (Edinburgh), Glastonbury Festival, Latitude Festival, Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival, Edinburgh Forest Fringe, Rotterdam Film Festival, BBC Film Festival, CCB Lisbon and Festival & Co., Paris.

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