Theatre Providing Sporting Thrills by Mervyn Weir

The Olympic Games is an event I’ve followed with passion since childhood, perhaps because it has always seemed to me to be one of the few arenas in which Black people are allowed to excel with freedom. As Jesse Owens proved, the running track is a level playing field, where success is down to pure raw talent, not money or access.


The London Games stirred me to use this unique opportunity to explore through theatre the intriguing and inspiring stories of the lives of Olympians, whose personal journeys resonate with audiences far beyond the realm of sport. They touch all of us. This is the reason that the Apostle Paul’s use of athletic metaphors in the Bible is so effective. As Nelson Mandela once said, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair.”


This summer, my production, Beyond Gold, will be performed at theatres across London. It blends a spectacular mix of dance, drama and gospel music to tell the true and inspiring stories of some of the world’s greatest athletes, including Marion Jones, Derek Redmond and Eric Liddle. It is a celebration of the spirit of the Games, featuring a talented cast of singers, dancers and actors; with music arranged by Celia Wickham-Anderson, who has performed with Take 6, Vicki Winans and Alvin Slaughter; and music by the Jason Thompson band, who has played for CeCe Winans, Oleta Adams and the London Community Gospel Choir.


The play engages the audience with stories of faith and determination, as well as the successes and failures that provide the backdrop to the epic quest for Olympic glory that brings participants so much more than a medal. By looking at the personal, intriguing stories of Olympians, Beyond Gold explores the exhilarating and often painful journey towards Olympic success. The drama uncovers the extraordinary parallels between the Christian experience and the Games, as well as Christianity’s contribution to the culture of the Olympics.


The London Games are a great opportunity for all Christians – and especially for the Black Church – to ‘let our light shine’. Don’t allow this opportunity to share in a once-in-a-lifetime experience pass you by. Be uplifted, challenged and inspired as Beyond Gold is performed at theatres across London from 15th to 29th July.


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