SportsInTheatre

 

This list is totally unedited, and is the compilation of the members of the ASTR list.

I did not include the contributors' names, and probably should have.  I will try to review the emails and do so as soon as I am clear of a whopping pile of essays.

 

An article appeared this week on the Greenpage about “Magic/Bird” about the two famous basketballers and their relationship.  The comments on the article were very much “what a clever idea to do a play about sports.” And the one or two people that knew this wasn’t a new thing all cited “Lombardi” as if the first play about sports was written last year.”

One of my colleagues here at Carnegie Mellon sent me the message above and suggested a course on sports-related plays might be interesting, and I thought it would be an amusing holiday diversion for the ASTR list, if we defined “sports” as broadly as possible to include any kind of performance of athletic or martial skills as a central focus of the plot, but not including plays that merely make references to a sport. Here’s my list so far – I’d be happy to see anyone else’s ideas, especially from the more ancient periods:

THE CHIEF (Rob Zellers) - about the life of former Steelers owner Art Rooney Sr.
BROWNS RULES (Eric Schmiel/Bill Hoffman) - a musical comedy about the Cleveland football team
DAMN YANKEES (Abbot/Wallop/Adler/Ross) - baseball
FENCES (August Wilson) - baseball
SUCKER PUNCH (Roy Williams) - boxing
SING YER HEART OUT FOR THE LADS (Roy Williams) - British football
THE CHANGING ROOM (David Storey) - rugby
UP N’ UNDER (Jon Godber) - rugby
RED REMEMBERS (Andrew Guerdat) - about the life of Red Barber, announcer for the Brooklyn Dodgers
TAKE ME OUT (Richard Greenberg) - baseball
RUNT OF THE LITTER (Bo Eason) - autobiographical account by the former Houston Oilers safety

 

That Championship Season -- Jason Miller. Reunion of high school basketball team and their coach. 1972. 

 

Amazing how frequently the wheel gets reinvented.  Claire Conceison has taught a course on Sports and Theatre for years, latterly at Tufts; Noe Montez, now on the Tufts faculty, has also offered such a course.

 

A Night in November (Marie Jones) - the World Cup and "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland

 

Also add Bleacher Bums, about the Cubs.
There is also a baseball scene with song in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown.
And last year the ART did an original musical about the Red Sox. It was originally called Red Sox Nation but then the title was changed to, I believe, Johnny Baseball.

 

Johny Baseball - musical
http://www.americanrepertorytheater.org/events/show/johnny-baseball

 


Lee Blessing, Oldtimers Game -- set in the locker room of a minor league baseball team 

 

Tom Lysaght, Nobody Don't Like Yogi -- set in the Yankee clubhouse on the day in 1999 when Yogi returned to Yankee Stadium. Yogi, alone, remembers.

THE BEAUTIFUL GAME, by Ben Elton and Andrew Lloyd Webber – soccer

 

Cobb by Lee Blessing

The Fool by Edward Bond (uses boxing as a metaphor)

As You Like It (the wrestling match)

The first production of Brecht's The Measure's Taken was set in a boxing ring.

And of course Brecht's short essay, "Emphasis on Sport"

 

Damn Yankees (musical featuring Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, MO.)

 

The Sweetest Swing in Baseball - Rebecca Gilman

 

And if you stretched the definition about how sports is used, perhaps Beautiful Thing - Jonathan Harvey

 

Framji Minwalla wrote:
Oh, and Israel Horowitz, The One on One Basketball Game
 

Oh, and Israel Horowitz, The One on One Basketball Game

 

Damn Yankees, surely. Also, there was a one-person play about Babe Ruth called The Babe that starred Max Gail (of Barney Miller fame) on Broadway in the mid-1980s.

I know this isn't a play, but there's a monologue from Bang the Drum Slowly that's pretty popular as an audition piece.

Don't forget The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz

To You, The Birdie (Phèdre) by The Wooster Group [badminton]

Lombardi by Eric Simonson [Football]

 

Three Japanese plays that come quickly to my mind:

"Summer Runners" by Makino Nozomi. Baseball during the post-WWII black market .

"Tokyo Atomic Klub" also by Makino. Baseball as a metaphor for the Japanese attempt to build an atomic bomb during WWII.

"A Legend of Mermaids" by Chong Wishin(g). Boxing. A Korean migrant family struggles to make a living in Japan. 

The last two are translated in the series "Half Century of Japanese Theater"

 

Boxing 2000 by Richard Maxwell

 

"Mike Vanden Heuvel" <mvandenh@WISC.EDU> wrote:

 
Charles T. Vincent, "A Naval Cadet" starred Gentleman Jim Corbett (the reigning heavyweight boxing champion) and includes a gymnasium scene in which he demonstrates bag punching (while the actress Annie Blake swings from a set of rings in full evening dress...)

Dermot Bolger, In High Germany (World Cup football)

Shaun Dunne's very recent "I am a Home Bird (It’s very hard)" has a fantasy scene of the Irish 2002 World Cup team celebrating

 

Charles T. Vincent, "A Naval Cadet" starred Gentleman Jim Corbett (the reigning heavyweight boxing champion) and includes a gymnasium scene in which he demonstrates bag punching (while the actress Annie Blake swings from a set of rings in full evening dress...)

Dermot Bolger, In High Germany (World Cup football)

Shaun Dunne's very recent "I am a Home Bird (It’s very hard)" has a fantasy scene of the Irish 2002 World Cup team celebrating

 

Beautiful Burnout - created by Frantic Assembly and National Theatre of Scotland (played St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn last year)

 

All American - a new play by Julia Brownell, currently up at Lincoln Center Theatre's LCT3 

 

Bring it On! The Musical [competitve cheerleading] is currently in rehearsals for a Broadway production.

 

Frankel, David wrote ; Of course, The Great White Hope, by Howard Sackler. And Clifford Odets' Golden Boy. 

 

See 
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-dance/features/smash-hits-plays-about-sport-850319.html

 

Also Trafford Tanzi - Claire Luckham (wrestling)

 

Also Deb Margolin's Three Seconds in the Key: basketball.

 

Tomson Highway's Dry Lips Oughta move to Kapuskasing about 7 Native American men and (among other things) hockey.

 

How She Played the Game by Cynthia Cooper, a short play about Eleonora Randolph Sears, Althea Gibson, Gertrude Ederle, Sonie Hennie, Gretel Bergmann, and Babe Didrickson

 

And Tom Stoppard's <Professional Foul> (soccer & ethics),  -  Kate Kelly

 

You may also want to look at "Les Canadiens" by Rick Salutin.
 
http://www.canadiantheatre.com/dict.pl?term=Les%20Canadiens
 
Salutin has a fine old time using hockey and the "team to beat" as metaphors for the history of Quebec and Canada from the Battle of the Plains of Abraham to the election win by the Parti Québécois in 1976. In the initial production, the actors "skated" on sheets of metallic "ice" as they performed. The audience played along and soon, performances resembled Hockey Night in Canada. The work proved to be one of Centaur Theatre's biggest hits and most enduring theatrical memories, despite its vaguely pro-Quebec Nationalist tone.  -  Diana Manole, PhD
 

 

Spin Moves and The Catch by Ken Weitzman
Back Back Back by Itamar Moses
w She Played the Game by Cynthia Cooper, a short play about Eleonora Randolph Sears, Althea Gibson, Gertrude Ederle, Sonie Hennie, Gretel Bergmann, and Babe Didrickson 
John O'Connor
Fairmont State University

 

 

George a Greene, The Pinner of Wakefield (1593) turns around several bouts of staff-fighting that function as sport, a feature of numerous late medieval and early modern Robin Hood parish plays as well. I discuss the social contexts for and performance implications of these forms of athletic combat in the second section of an article I wrote a few years ago: Erika T. Lin, "Popular Festivity and the Early Modern Stage: The Case of George a Greene," Theatre Journal 61 (2009): 271-97.
Erika T. Lin
 

Did anyone mention Lee Blessing's COBB? I saw that in NYC about a decade ago - loved it!
 

A favorite of mine is David Storey's The Changing Room about semi-pro rugby in England circa 1970.  -  Don Eisen
 

I am not a teacher in theatre history but I think maybe it would be interesting to add to the theme
Theatre/Sports a cross cultural approach.

Sports in United States is one thing and sports in Argentina and Brazil is another. For example, a known
argentinian writer and director Ricardo Bartis had dealt with Sports, politics and theatre in a trilogy of
plays. El box is the latest one. He is writing one on football now. I am sure there are many cases in Brazil also.

Gustavo von Bischoffshausen

In Brazil: Chapetuba Futebol Clube, by Oduvaldo Vianna Filho (Vianinha). I
do not know if an English translation exists.
Claudia   On 11/6/11 5:01 PM, "gustavovon" <gustavovon@SPEEDY.COM.PE> wrote:

That Champion Season

What about August Wilson's Fences?  - Lindsay Cummings
Cornell University
Writing Workshop
lbc29@cornell.edu
 

David Edgar's Ball Boys.--
John O'Connor

You may also want to look at "Les Canadiens" by Rick Salutin.  

 

Also Deb Margolin's Three Seconds in the Key: basketball.
  Tomson Highway's Dry Lips Oughta move to Kapuskasing about 7 Native American men and (among other things) hockey.

 

How She Played the Game by Cynthia Cooper, a short play about Eleonora Randolph Sears, Althea Gibson, Gertrude Ederle, Sonie Hennie, Gretel Bergmann, and Babe Didrickson

 

George a Greene, The Pinner of Wakefield (1593) turns around several bouts of staff-fighting that function as sport, a feature of numerous late medieval and early modern Robin Hood parish plays as well. I discuss the social contexts for and performance implications of these forms of athletic combat in the second section of an article I wrote a few years ago: Erika T. Lin, "Popular Festivity and the Early Modern Stage: The Case of George a Greene," Theatre Journal 61 (2009): 271-97.

 

 

Baseball:

Ernie by Mitch Albom

Fences by August Wilson  

Rounding Third by Richard Dresser

Bang the Drum Slowly, adapted by Eric Simonson (someone mentioned a monologue, but there is a complete stage version by Simonson, who also wrote Lombardi and is currently working on Magic/Bird)

Honus and Me by Steven Dietz (adaptation of Dan Gutman's novel)

 

Boxing:

The Homecoming by Harold Pinter

Blade to the Heat by Oliver Mayer

Joe Louis Blues by Oliver Mayer

The Tooth of Crime by Sam Shepard

The Champion by Robert Gurik (translated by Allan Van Meer)

 

Football:

Wonderful Town by Comden and Green

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

 

Hockey:

Five Flights by Adam Bock

 

Horse racing:

Pure Confidence by Carlyle Brown

 

Tennis:

Ball Boys by David Edgar

 

Golf:

Yodellers by Michael Healey and Kate Lynch

One Under by Israel Horovitz

Let the Big Dog Eat by Elizabeth Wong

 

Wrestling:

Cementville by Jane Martin

 

In Brazil: Chapetuba Futebol Clube, by Oduvaldo Vianna Filho (Vianinha). I

do not know if an English translation exists.

 

Sports in United States is one thing and sports in Argentina and Brazil is another. For example, a known

argentinian writer and director Ricardo Bartis had dealt with Sports, politics and theatre in a trilogy of

plays. El box is the latest one. He is writing one on football now. I am sure there are many cases in Brazil also.

 

  And Tom Stoppard's <Professional Foul> (soccer & ethics),

 

Spin Moves and The Catch by Ken Weitzman
Back Back Back by Itamar Moses

How about Blade to the Heat (Apple Tree got a Jeff for that):
 
http://theater.nytimes.com/mem/theater/treview.html?res=9C04E7D9143EF937A35752C1A962958260

I saw a show once at Circle in the Square called “Diamonds” about Baseball.
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diamonds_%28musical%29

Here’s four more:
 
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-dance/features/smash-hits-plays-about-sport-850319.html

a couple more and a discussion of this idea:
 
http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/theatreblog/2010/apr/22/theatre-sport-human-drama

and some more, in an article that Google found on the Green Page:
 
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/28/theater/28bison.html?_r=2&ref=theater

and that’s just the first page of results on Google to “plays about sports”
 
db
 

 

See
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-dance/features/smash-hits-plays-about-sport-850319.html

Also Trafford Tanzi - Claire Luckham (wrestling)

 

Babe Ruth called The Babe that starred Max Gail (of Barney Miller fame) on Broadway in the mid-1980s.

 

I know this isn't a play, but there's a monologue from Bang the Drum Slowly that's pretty popular as an audition piece.

 

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz

 

To You, The Birdie (Phèdre) by The Wooster Group [badminton]

 

"Summer Runners" by Makino Nozomi. Baseball during the post-WWII black market .
"Tokyo Atomic Klub" also by Makino. Baseball as a metaphor for the Japanese attempt to build an atomic bomb during WWII.
"A Legend of Mermaids" by Chong Wishin(g). Boxing. A Korean migrant family struggles to make a living in Japan.
The last two are translated in the series "Half Century of Japanese Theater"

 

Boxing 2000 by Richard Maxwell

 

Charles T. Vincent, "A Naval Cadet" starred Gentleman Jim Corbett (the reigning heavyweight boxing champion) and includes a gymnasium scene in which he demonstrates bag punching (while the actress Annie Blake swings from a set of rings in full evening dress...)
 
 Dermot Bolger, In High Germany (World Cup football)
 
 Shaun Dunne's very recent "I am a Home Bird (It’s very hard)" has a fantasy scene of the Irish 2002 World Cup team celebrating

 

Beautiful Burnout - created by Frantic Assembly and National Theatre of Scotland (played St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn last year)

 

All American - a new play by Julia Brownell, currently up at Lincoln Center Theatre's LCT3 

 

 

Of course, The Great White Hope, by Howard Sackler. And Clifford Odets' Golden Boy.

 


Bring it On! The Musical
 [competitve cheerleading] 

 

Oh, and Israel Horowitz, The One on One Basketball GameFramji

 

The Sweetest Swing in Baseball - Rebecca Gilman

And if you stretched the definition about how sports is used, perhaps Beautiful Thing - Jonathan Harvey

 

he Fool by Edward Bond (uses boxing as a metaphor)As You Like It (the wrestling match)The first production of Brecht's The Measure's Taken was set in a boxing ring.And of course Brecht's short essay, "Emphasis on Sport"Framji

 

There are some scenes here and there, such as the long (and fictitious) speech in Sophocles’ ELECTRA about a chariot race. Aeschylus had a play, now lost, called ATALANTA, presumably about the mythical woman who would only marry a man who could defeat her in a footrace.
 
We can, though, add an adaptation, the soon-to-open on Broadway:
LYSISTRATA JONES, by Douglas Carter Beane and Lewis Flinn – basketball
 
I’ll also throw in:
THE BEAUTIFUL GAME, by Ben Elton and Andrew Lloyd Webber – soccer

 

Lee Blessing, Oldtimers Game -- set in the locker room of a minor league baseball team 

 

Tom Lysaght, Nobody Don't Like Yogi -- set in the Yankee clubhouse on the day in 1999 when Yogi returned to Yankee Stadium. Yogi, alone, remembers. 

 

 

Also add Bleacher Bums, about the Cubs.

There is also a baseball scene with song in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown.

And last year the ART did an original musical about the Red Sox. It was originally called Red Sox Nation but then the title was changed to, I believe, Johnny Baseball.

 

Stuart

 

A Night in November (Marie Jones) - the World Cup and "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland That Championship Season -- Jason Miller. Reunion of high school basketball team and their coach. 1972.


 

That Championship Season -- Jason Miller. Reunion of high school basketball team and their coach. 1972.
On Nov 6, 2011, at 9:07 AM, "Michael Chemers" <chemers@ANDREW.CMU.EDU> wrote:

Theatre/Sports My dear colleagues,


An article appeared this week on the Greenpage about “Magic/Bird” about the two famous basketballers and their relationship.  The comments on the article were very much “what a clever idea to do a play about sports.” And the one or two people that knew this wasn’t a new thing all cited “Lombardi” as if the first play about sports was written last year.”

One of my colleagues here at Carnegie Mellon sent me the message above and suggested a course on sports-related plays might be interesting, and I thought it would be an amusing holiday diversion for the ASTR list, if we defined “sports” as broadly as possible to include any kind of performance of athletic or martial skills as a central focus of the plot, but not including plays that merely make references to a sport. Here’s my list so far – I’d be happy to see anyone else’s ideas, especially from the more ancient periods:

THE CHIEF (Rob Zellers) - about the life of former Steelers owner Art Rooney Sr.
BROWNS RULES (Eric Schmiel/Bill Hoffman) - a musical comedy about the Cleveland football team
DAMN YANKEES (Abbot/Wallop/Adler/Ross) - baseball
FENCES (August Wilson) - baseball
SUCKER PUNCH (Roy Williams) - boxing
SING YER HEART OUT FOR THE LADS (Roy Williams) - British football
THE CHANGING ROOM (David Storey) - rugby
UP N’ UNDER (Jon Godber) - rugby
RED REMEMBERS (Andrew Guerdat) - about the life of Red Barber, announcer for the Brooklyn Dodgers
TAKE ME OUT (Richard Greenberg) - baseball
RUNT OF THE LITTER (Bo Eason) - autobiographical account by the former Houston Oilers safety

Thanks!

-Michael

--
Michael M. Chemers, PhD, MFA
Associate Professor of Dramatic Literature
Dramaturgy Program Director
School of Drama
Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
412-268-2399
Fax: 412-621-0281
http://www.drama.cmu.edu/


 A. R. Gurney's Big Bill is about the great tennis professional Bill Tilden.

 
Argentinean playwright / performer Eduardo Pavlovsky has several plays about boxing and boxers:
 
Ultimo round
Camaralenta
La muerte de Marguerite Duras
 
A version of Camaralenta was translated by Paul Verdier as Slowmotion.
 
And as pointed out by the earlier contributor, Ricardo Bartís currently has El box running and is working on the third part of that sports trilogy, the first being La pesca (Fishing) from a couple of years ago.
 
Jean Graham-Jones

Edvard Radzinsky's Jogging
Dr. Catherine A. Schuler


Hurl by Charlie O'Neill (about a team of asylum-seekers and new immigrants to Ireland who create a hurling team; done by Barabbas with some interesting sport movement segments)

Charlie O'Neill has another play in which the All-Ireland tournament is a backdrop for community unrest in regard to the Travelling community

A Little Bit of Blue by Alan Archbold (about a passionate Gaelic football fan in Dublin)

Alone It Stands by John Breen - about the Munster (Irish) rugby team's victory over NZ's All Blacks in the 1970s

and STUDS - by Paul Mercier - was made into a film about a local soccer team in the "depressed" Tallaght section on the outskirts of Dublin.

I have more examples - many in which sport is a backdrop to other issues. I wrote my PhD dissertation about the Irish sports of Gaelic Football and Hurling as performance.

Sara Brady


And to add to Sara's list, Macnas' excellent (semi-retelling of the Odyssey) "The Lost Days of Ollie Deasy." Deasy is a former, great hurler in this play.  -  Jay Ball


This list is not compltere without Richard Greenberg's _Take Me Out_ about a gay baseball player.  -  Michael Winetsky, Ph.D.


Sorry to come late to the sports party, but I noticed the general lack of hockey plays. And at the risk of perpetuating Canadian stereotypes, there are no shortages of hockey-centric plays in our national theatre canon:

Les Canadiens -  Rick Salutin – iconic play about hockey as a metaphor for Quebec politics
Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad -  Michael Melski – dramatic comedy about parents
The Big League - James Durham – Theatre for Young Audiences show about violence in sport and parental pressure
The Hockey Sweater – adapted from the Roch Carrier book – many versions of this in both English and French
Playing With Fire: the Theo Fleury Story – Kirstie McLellan Day – based on the real life of NHL all-star Theo Fleury, opening in 2012
Life After Hockey – Kenneth Brown – solo show
Mending Fences – Norm Foster – not hockey-centric, but the play’s action hinges on the father and son fighting during a game.
Hockey Dreams – David Adams Richards – trying to make the NHL
Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing – Tomson Highway – series of First Nations women discuss many topics, including hockey

A graduate student is working in this area, and I know he has collected more than 50 plays, including at least a dozen hockey versions of Shakespeare...

These are movies, but both were notable in Canada this year:
Score: a Hockey Musical – starring Olivia Newton-John – this opened the Toronto Film Fest
Breakaway – a Bollywood hockey adventure

These are non-Canadian shows that I have heard of, but have no information about:
Slam: the Rock Hockey Opera
The Loves of Wayne Gretzky, in which Gretzky leaves his wife for Mario Lemieux

Nicholas Hanson


BEAUTIFUL BURNOUT by Byrony Lavery     (Boxing)
National Theatre of Scotland production  at St. Ann's Wharehouse