Special Olympic moments inspire BYT performances

The Borders Youth Theatre at Galashiels Arts Centre rehearsing for some street performances to be held around the Borders.
The Borders Youth Theatre at Galashiels Arts Centre rehearsing for some street performances to be held around the Borders.
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FROM Sir Steve Redgrave defying his diabetes to win a fifth gold medal, to sprinter Jesse Owens infuriating Adolf Hitler with his incredible four-gold haul at the 1936 Berlin Games, the Olympics are full of iconic moments that trascend their particular sports.

And Borders Youth Theatre are currently trying to relive a few of them in a series of outdoor performances across the region this week.

Rehearsals began on Saturday for the Street Olympiad shows involving around 30 budding actors aged 12 to 25.

And displaying a turn of pace Usain Bolt would be proud of, the cast had just four days of practice before performances began yesterday in Kelso, with further shows in Eyemouth today, Melrose tomorrow, Galashiels on Saturday and Peebles on Sunday.

BYT chair David Bisset told TheSouthern: “We are always trying new things for the youngsters to experience, which they would not get at a school or another drama company.

“This was an ideal opportunity with the Olympics just weeks away.

“BYT has been going for 23 years, yet we have noticed people saying to us at some of our shows recently ‘We have never heard of you’.

“Performing on the street is a great way of getting noticed and maybe some young people will want to join us after seeing our performances.”

Included in the BYT Olympic-inspired street showcase will be the story of Redgrave’s five gold medals at consecutive Games from 1984 to 2000, leading to the 50-year-old earning the title of Britain’s greatest ever Olympian.

His feat was all the more incredible after the rower was diagnosed with diabetes in 1997, three years before his final appearance at the Sydney Olympics.

And BYT’s actors have also learned about the incredible tale of Owens, a black American sprinter whose four medals in Nazi Germany damaged Hitler’s attempt to hi-jack the Games to promote his ideologies.

David told us: “We want to focus on events such as Jessie Owens’ golds at the Hitler Olympics. We want to remember Olympic events which were important beyond sport, and certainly Owens’ gold medal haul was one of those.

“It is not a case of learning your lines like a normal production, it will be physically challenging roles for the children.

“This is a very complicated project, not least because of the difficulty for young people of getting from town to town around the Borders.

“But we are grateful to local bus companies, Buskers, First Bus and Munro’s of Jedburgh, who are offering participants free bus travel during the project. These types of street performances are a very common sight abroad and I know the Entertainment in Melrose Square shows have proved very popular with tourists.”

The Great Moments of the Olympics performances also mark a return of BYT to a favourite venue.

David added: “Rehearsals have been held in Mac-Arts Centre, the former St Andrews Arts Centre in Bridge Street, Galashiels.

“It was the home of BYT for many years and the site of many happy memories for hundreds of Borders schoolchildren before it was closed by Scottish Borders Council a few years ago.”

Street Olympiad is held in Eyemouth from noon today, Melrose at 11am and 2pm tomorrow, Galashiels at 11am and 2pm on Saturday and Peebles on Sunday at noon.

Visit www.bordersyouththeatre.co.uk for more information