Melpomene’s First Run


at Northern Stage, Newcastle

‘It’s 1896 and marathon runner Stamata Ravithi is given the nickname ‘Melpomene’ (Muse of Tragedy) when she tries to run in the first modern Olympic Games. One woman’s determination not to be put down by men has inspired generations of female athletes to compete at the highest level. This modern Greek tragedy explores the relationship between sport, art and human potential.’

Up-and-coming playwright, Fiona Veitch Smith (yes, that’s me) has been shortlisted for no less than three theatre writing awards in 2007 – including the People’s Play Award. This is her second staged reading at Northern Stage and she hopes to develop ‘Melpomene’ into a full production in anticipation of the upcoming Olympic games.

‘Many people think that Art and Sport have nothing in common,’ says Fiona. ‘I don’t agree and neither did the ancient Olympians. Theatrical performances were an integral part of the sporting celebrations, both seen as an expression of human potential and a worthy sacrifice to the gods.’

Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic movement also believed in the connection between art and sport. The chairman of the first IOC, Demetrios Vikelas, was a poet, and both men hoped that the Olympics would be a celebration of art as well as sport. You will meet these two men in ‘Melpomene’. And while they did not approve of female participation in athletic events, they must still be credited with heralding the greatest sporting spectacle the world has ever seen.

A staged reading of the first 20 minutes of ‘Melpomene’ will headline an eclectic showcase of new talent on Wednesday 6 February at Northern Stage‘s ‘First in Three’ evening, starting at 7.30pm. It will be directed by Northern Stage’s resident director, Annie Rigby, who says: “This timely play combines the iconic and the human in a really exciting way. It tells a story about inspiration, about how sparks are lit inside us, and it has the capacity to speak to audiences in a very direct and motivating way.”

Tickets are £3 and can be booked at the door.

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One comment on “Melpomene’s First Run

  1. Suzanne Lieurance on said:

    Hi, Fiona,

    Wow! Congratulations. How exciting!

    Suzanne Lieurance
    The Working Writer’s Coach

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