“The Art of Swimming” is a play that chronicles the story of Mercedes Gleitze, the first woman to swim the English Channel. It also profiles how the writer, Lynda Radley, was influenced by her during the writing of the play. It is also an exploration of how the nature of celebrity affects a person whose goal is to do something incredibly solitary.
In 2005 in a Cork library, Lynda Radley came across a photograph of Mercedes Gleitze. Inspired by her life, this solo performance thus contains two stories, not just that of Gleitze, whose success propelled her to stardom and further extraordinary swimming feats before she gradually faded from public view, but that of Radley’s obsession with her. In essence this is about the loneliness of the long distance swimmer. Radley conveys the sometimes desperate solitude of swimming and the way one’s sense of self is subsumed within both the seemingly infinite currents and depths of water and the abject physical exertion.
“A beautifully written and performed piece about a modest, strong-willed woman produces an hour of quiet, gentle delight. It was my first show this year but I know already that it will prove to be one of the gems of the fringe.” – On Stage Scotland – Edinburgh Festival 2007
“The Art of Swimming,” from the young Irish theatre company Playgroup, opened in September 2006 in Glasgow and Edinburgh to rave reviews. It was awarded Best Fringe Award in the Dublin Fringe Festival 2007 and nominated for the Total Theatre Award in Edinburgh. It was performed in The Netherlands during the Amsterdam Fringe Festival 2008. After seeing the production, STET (Stichting The English Theater) invited Playgroup to perform it in the very special surroundings of the Museum Beelden aan Zee (Sculptures at the Sea).
The location of this museum, in the Scheveningen dunes, guarantees a unique dialogue between the play and the sculptures. Tony Cragg, the most exhibited sculptor in the world, is currently showing several works there and these stunning sculptures create an incredible background for this delightful show.
The Museum Beelden aan Zee is located at Harteveldstraat, Scheveningen. The play will be performed on four nights in April, 22 -25, at 8:15 p.m. (doors open at 7:30 p.m.). Tickets cost €18.50 and can be ordered online at: www.theenglishtheatre.nl [in English] or by calling 06-300-50018.