30 July 2012
Colin Teevan, creative writing lecturer at Birkbeck, has been commissioned to write a play for the Olympics by Radio 3.
Marathon Tales, written with performance poet Hannah Silva, starts with the original marathon runner, Pheidippides, who ran from Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory over the Persians in 490BC.
In the course of the play, Pheidippides finds himself racing alongside long distance athletes from mythology and more recent times, including Pan the shepherd god with whom he reputedly met on his epic run; Abebe Bikila, who ran the 1960 Olympic marathon barefoot and became the first African to win gold at the Olympics, Pan; Kathrine Switzer, author of Marathon Woman, the first woman to officially run a marathon and who campaigned for women to be allowed to run marathons; John Tarrant, the banned working class Yorkshire runner who became famous as 'the ghost-runner'; and Harold Abrahams, whose 1924 Olympic 100m victory was depicted in the film Chariots of Fire.
Each of the runners accompanying Pheidippides on his journey has a powerful story to tell.
Colin said: “I've long been interested in distance running, less as a sport, more as a philosophical space. Every run is a story and behind that, every runner has a story. And the modern marathon is form of secular pilgrimage in which we come to terms with our stories. So this is a sort of modern, irreverent Canterbury Tales of running.”
Co-writer, Hannah Silva, will be guest lecturing on Birkbeck’s BA Creative Writing programme in the next academic year.
The play will be broadcast at 21.15 on 11 August 2012.