I saw “The King’s Speech” in theaters and absolutely loved it. Not only was it awesome to see vocal techniques we learn in Voice and Speech being done by Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth on the big screen, the story of a man deeply examining his inner life was also resonant with the experience of going to school in the arts. I thought it was awesome that this kind of story was receiving such widespread attention and that his journey to find himself while becoming a strong leader was very important.
This background, The King’s Speech On Stage on the screenwriter and the story now being put in play form makes me like it all the more. Turns out the writer, David Seidler, is 74, has never had a project close to this magnitude, and grew up with a stutter. When writing the movie he felt overwhelmed, and based off a suggestion from his wife he wrote the play to help himself focus on the essential relationships and their anchoring of the piece. This is very important to note when considering the significance of the film’s success, it has superb sound design, editing, cinematography, and art direction (indeed it was nominated for an Oscar in all of these categories) but what carries it is the story and human connections (won oscars for best picture, screenplay, direction, and actor). Focus on technology is driving story and character from film, and I hope lessons can be taken from the success of a film like this. Audiences have been seduced by the scale on which film can tell story but the industry is so consumed with expanding that scope it’s forgetting the story. The physical limitations of theatre focus the attention on story, relationships, and characters in the same way that anchors the most successful films.
Seidler remarks, “In my mind, the films’ function was to give me enough money to help me get the play done.” There’s great honesty here, it remind me of the what Michael Maso said that Kate referenced in her last post as well, that a theatre with money can focus on theatre, a theatre without money focuses on money.” I said in my last post that sometimes I feel there is an aversion within the arts to being accessible, and I think the same is clearly true of making money as well. But as this example shows, that for the most part for art to be expansive and influential it has to consider the playing field.