A floating opera written by Monty Python star Terry Jones and impromptu Shakespeare recitals on the Tube by award-winning actor Mark Rylance are among the cultural events that will run alongside the Olympics in London this summer.
Every borough in the capital will host free arts events between July and September, Mayor of London Boris Johnson said yesterday, at an announcement timed to mark 150 days to the start of the games.
The cultural programming will include live music, arts, performance and pop up events on London high streets, town centres parks and other locations. They are designed to provide “an extra layer of cultural activities” for Londoners and visitors to the capital during the Olympics, Mr Johnson said, adding that while London “won’t have all the pyrotechnics” of Beijing, the capital could compete in other areas, especially culturally.
Former Python Terry Jones has worked with composer Anne Dudley and the Royal Opera House to stage a new work inspired by the Owl and the Pussycat, which will be performed on London’s canals.
As part of the “pop-up performances” Mark Rylance, who won Olivier and Tony awards for his role as Johnny Byron in Jerusalem, will bring Shakespeare’s sonnets and speeches to central London.
Mr Rylance said: “The idea is to take the beautiful language of Shakespeare and put it in a real situation. It could be in the middle of the street or stepping into a Tube carriage. Some might be confrontative, some might be intimate, but it will be out in the street and for free which is the wonderful thing about this.”
The English National Ballet are set to perform on three of London’s lidos while an arts group called Red Earth install sculptures on Northala Fields, four hills created out of waste from building the new Wembley Stadium.
The team behind the extraordinary club site Shangri-La during the Glastonbury festival are to create the London Pleasure Gardens at the Royal Docks.
Ruth Mackenzie, director of the London 2012 Festival, said: “London and the UK's creative industries are world-beating and the London 2012 Festival will show them off to the world.