from sports in Rio to theatre in Edinburgh – two cities with the world inside them
Here at tiata fahodzi we’ve been overcome with Olympic fever – and the 2016 Rio games only started at the beginning of the week. We’ve been watching the African nations win the opening ceremony fashion wars, getting ourselves excited for the prospect of medals in the events we’re traditionally good at (hello, track and field events next week), and cheering enthusiastically at the African atheletes surprising us, like 14 year old swimmer Kaya Adwoa Forson. The Olympics and Paralympics – especially in a country like Brazil – might not be without controversy, but there’s one thing I’m sure we can all agree on: for a few selective weeks, and likely for the only time while we’ll be alive, Rio de Janeiro is hosting the very best sportspeople in their fields.
On a similar note, next week we’re tearing ourselves away from our obsessive Olympics viewing to head up to Edinburgh to catch some of the best theatre the world has to offer. It might not be as sunny as Rio (!) but Edinburgh has its own charms, and we’ve got no doubt that they’ll be as apparent when walking around the city as Rio looks through the telly screen. Funnily, the more we’ve thought about the Edinburgh festival and began planning our trip, the more similarities we’ve seen with the Olympic Games:
Both events showcase the very best in their fields. Both showcase talent from all over the world, and both have a variety of people within each group – there’s a mix of people of all different colours, classes and cultural backgrounds, people with money and without it, people with natural ability and people who just work every single day to be the best. There are people who are there for the first time and people who are long term veterans. Some Olympic athletes, like Edinburgh artists, have huge sponsorship deals, and perform in the flashiest arenas with the largest crowds and a waiting media.
But for every well-known superstar, every Michael Phelps or Youssou N’Dour, there are dozens of people with hardly any profile at all. Hundreds and thousands of people at both the Olympics and in Edinburgh this summer are spending their own money to do the thing the love most in the world, knowing they’ll only get one chance to shine, and knowing they probably won’t get an exciting write-up in a huge mainstream publication. Behind both the athletes and the performers are huge teams, huge groups of people to get one person ready for a feat that is both mental as well as physical. In Brazil, they’ve got strict coaches, helpful teammates, and supportive family members; in Scotland there’s the rest of a cast, the crew behind the scenes, the booking agents and flyering teams and people letting you sleep on their sofa for free. If there’s one thing that both the Fringe and the Olympics are teaching us, it’s that no person is an island.
And then, of course, there are there audiences. Your Olympic appearance or Fringe performance might be the best in the world, but if there’s no-one there to watch it, it ultimately means very little. Every athlete and performer might want to be the best for themselves, but they’re also giving their all fro another reason – us. As an audience, we have a responsibility to give our all as well, to commit to seeing what we can and supporting from afar when we can. So here at tiata fahodzi, we’re asking for a promise. A promise that whether you’re watching the Olympics on your sofa or a play at a theatre, you’ll acknowledge how lucky you are to be a part of it, even if it’s only in a small way. It’s incredible that the world is in one city for such a short time, and we’re all so privileged enough to have access to both sports and the arts. We might have Olympic fever but our Edinburgh excitement is building every day, and we’re so, so grateful to catch a glimpse into both worlds. As far as we can tell, everyone else is too.