Gloucestershire-born Olympian Howard Timms believes that many people have the potential to compete in the Olympic Games. His own story reveals a boyhood dream of athletic glory that came true by accident. Howard first previewed this true tale as a solo play at the Playhouse Theatre, Cheltenham, in April, 2012, going on to perform it at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August.
Having learnt to perform, and run, at Cheltenham (Pate’s) Grammar School, Howard acted as an amateur in Croydon, then back in Cheltenham. Professionally, he acted in and directed talking books, dramatised documentaries and training videos. Ten years living in Chicago added professional stage acting and play writing to his performance activities. His first produced musical, Good as Gold (Chicago, 2008), had an Olympic theme. Howard’s solo musical play Let The Lady Sing was in the Chicago Fringe Festival of 2011, at Cheltenham Playhouse in March 2012 and, as In Tune With Dementia, in Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2013.
Fitting these Olympic times, a former participant tells the story of his life. Mishaps, accidents and tragic diagnosis have not made him less funny, entertaining and life (and sport) embracing. His childhood dream is to compete and this plan is overthrown by shattered knees, but opens the way to compete in another discipline. The narrator’s conclusion that a new door opens for every one that closes is proved by many incidents in his life, and the monologue is spiced up by voice recordings, jokes, sarcasm and wit. An interesting aspect of this story was to see what normal lives most Olympic athletes lead. Being part of it is the point, not the success. Topical, and well-presented. Three Weeks rating 4/5 | [Veronika Kallus] –
‘Howard is a born raconteur and kept his audience gripped for nearly an hour . . . both hilarious and poignant anecdotes . . . The message was that we should try to see the humour in a situation where possible and hold on to our fighting spirit, no matter how adverse the circumstances.’
Avril Hemingfield, Gloucestershire Echo, April 2012
Performances of Accidental Olympian
“Mistakenly detained in American Immigration as a terrorist suspect — because I accidentally burnt off my fingerprints — I reflect on the mishaps in my life. I hope my missing fingerprints won’t destroy my chance to watch the 2012 London Olympics, forty years after competing in the ill-fated Munich games. No-one had been more surprised than me when a road accident that destroyed my knee eventually catapulted me into the Olympics. Other mishaps punctuate my story – one, after making friends in a marathon race, even saved my life.” Howard Timms
Directed by Caroline Young, Accidental Olympian first previewed (without mishap!) on Friday, April 13, 2012, at the Playhouse Theatre, Bath Road, Cheltenham. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe premiere was in August 2012.