#21 Abolish the Olympics by Ben Winspear
#21 Abolish the Olympics by Ben Winspear

The city has been taken over.  A group calling itself The Committee is now in charge.  There will be changes.  Beautiful things are promised to the people, parades, light shows, awe inspiring ceremonies, and incredible feats of engineering and demonstrations of the pinnacle of human achievement and spirit.  The eyes of the world will be turned this way.  But there are conditions, there is a plan, a formula for the transformation the city must undergo.  It is an honour to have the attention of The Committee focused on the city.

First the city will be made safer.  The police will be issued with a new class of weaponry, and trained in their use.  Laws will be introduced so that the deployment of these weapons in an urban setting will be permissible.  It is necessary to secure the transformation.  These new powers are a legacy that will belong to the city forever.  The police will be assisted by the introduction of a mass surveillance system, supported by AI capable of recognising unwanted faces in crowds of thousands.  This is so that freestyle BMX can be safely appreciated by all.

In exchange, the people of the city will give their open spaces to The Committee, who knows better than the people what to do with them.  These spaces will be made beautiful, and things will be built there that will allow beach volleyball to happen where you never would have expected it.  It might mean that some neighbourhoods where the houses are small might have to be bulldozed, but competitive international break dancing needs a dedicated auditorium, which will belong to the people of the city long after The Committee has moved on.

Visitors to the city will be keen to appreciate the work of The Committee, and won’t want to be distracted by things like people with nowhere to live, so they will be put on busses and sent away to somewhere outside of our thought.  Instead, giant plush mascots will roam the streets, making exaggerated hand gestures and waving for photographs on pavements that have been polished to a shine.

White water rapids will appear in place of the commons, and stalls selling collectible badges will be everywhere.  It is a chance for business owners to become officially attached to the work of The Committee.  They will require official soft drinks, hamburgers and ice creams, which will in turn need launches and activations of their own.  All this is pivotal to building excitement.

It might be rumoured that your city paid for The Committee to come, that the people’s money had been used to send The Committee’s children to school, to hospital, or on holiday, and that is why the city has been chosen over others.  But flags going up poles and anthems over loud speakers will drown out these rumours.  Other cities are desperate for The Committee’s attention, and are jealous that they have come here.  These other cities also want handball medallion ceremonies, and synchronised activities in swimming pools that have encountered unexpected cost blowouts.

All the incredible moments of daring, grit and courage that the people of the city have been promised in return for their future are performed by elite, highly trained representatives, who may suffer disproportionally from mental health problems, but who swear that they will never and have never taken any exogenous anabolic androgenic steroids, or any endogenous anabolic androgenic steroids, or any erythropoiesis-stimulating agents, or beta-2 agonists, or any diuretics, and certainly no hormone antagonists or modulators.  Their blood will be extracted and frozen so that the scientists of the future will be able to verify the truth of these oaths.

The city will become a proving ground, where nations will demonstrate their superiority over others, and armies of wealthy citizens will make the journey to support their country’s efforts by chanting and the waving of tiny flags and the wearing of officially sanctioned track suits and baseball caps.

The seven effects of waste, militarisation, debt, unsustainability, corruption, displacement and nationalism that the city will be subjected to will be compensated by the seven values of friendship, excellence, respect, courage, determination, inspiration and equality that The Committee will import.  These are excellent values, and lots of golf and equestrian and trampolining demonstrations will stamp them on the city’s character for eternity.  The takeover has brought many changes.  The city, the people, and the future will never be the same.

Ben Winspear

As a director Ben has steered a number of new productions for Sydney Theatre Company, where he was Resident Director for three years including Morph, These People, This Little Piggy, Metamorphosis and Thyestes.  He also co-directed Victory for STC, ran numerous play readings and developments and judged for the Patrick White Award and Young Writers Award.

As Associate Artist for Griffin Theatre he was Associate Director on Gloria, and for three years was responsible for running the artist development programmes there.

As assistant director, Ben has worked with Barrie Kosky (on three productions, Oedipus, Women of Troy and La Grand Macabre), Robyn Nevin (Don Parties On), Howard Davies (The Cherry Orchard), Garry McDonald (Stones in His Pockets), and Jean Piere Mignon (The Miser).

Most recently he produced and directed the sellout seasons of The Bleeding Tree by Angus Cerini re-opening The Theatre Royal and Venus and Adonis at St David’s Cathedral during the pandemic. In Tasmania, he has also directed Monkey for Big Monkey, The Gardens of Paradise with Ten Days on the Island, Twelve Times He Spoke for Blue Cow, and Gruesome Playground Injuries for Tas Theatre Co.

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