The stage version of The King's Speech finished its latest UK tour in June 2015. The play and film have helped give people 'permission' to talk about stammering. BSA member Amanda Littleboy sent a final message to the cast and production team of the tour:
To the production team and all the cast of The King’s Speech, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you have done through this production to not only entertain audiences with your wonderful performances in this amazing play but for making such a valuable contribution towards raising awareness of stammering. Also for making it possible for the British Stammering Association to promote the cause of what is all too often a misunderstood, frustrating and lonely condition for many.
I’m sure you’ll be aware by now that The King’s Speech is more than just a play. It has never been “just a play” in the same way that the film was never “just a film”. It has been a pivotal experience for countless numbers of people, opening the door to discussion, giving hope, renewing confidence, and changing many lives for the better, including my own.
Even though I’m not there to share the last performance with you, nor managed to make it to every venue on the tour, I have been with you in spirit every step of the way, egging you all on and wishing you every success. It has been a great privilege to have shared this journey and been made to feel part of The King’s Speech Family over the past few months. I am proud to have met you and I will never forget how much it has meant to me to be involved.
It was heart warming to know that for the first time this young man would have a chance to speak openly and honestly about his problems with those closest to him
Having been to several performances, it can be very moving to find out how individual members of the audience can be affected personally by seeing the play, and I had a number of interesting conversations while representing the British Stammering Association at various venues. At Chichester I spoke to a lady who told me that her 15 year old grandson has a severe stammer and how as a family they have never discussed the subject, always afraid to bring it up in case they made things worse for him. She had never heard of the BSA and was greatly relieved to know that there is help and support available for her grandson. She went away vowing to end the silence in her family surrounding the subject and it was heart warming to know that for the first time this young man would have a chance to speak openly and honestly about his problems with those closest to him and, hopefully, learn to move forward in his life in a positive way. There are many such stories to relate and we will never know how many lives have been affected by coming to see a performance of The King’s Speech. Bless each one of you for the part you have played in making this happen.
In 1939, King George VI spoke these famous words in his Christmas broadcast to the nation:
I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.’
In its own way, The King’s Speech has also given people who stammer the opportunity to tread safely into the unknown, to step out of fear, step out of shame and limitations, and to aim for goals they would never have imagined themselves reaching. It is directly because of The King’s Speech that I found my voice and I am now helping others to find theirs. Whatever you all go on to do and achieve, always remember that you have been involved in something profoundly special and that you have made a difference in ways that you might never understand, but I can promise you that you have.
With grateful thanks once again and my fondest wishes to you all.
Your friend Amanda
About the 2015 tour
In this production the King's speech therapist Lionel Logue was played by Jason Donovan, with Raymond Coulthard as King George VI. The tour visited 14 venues round the UK, starting in Chichester.
The 2010 film starring Colin Firth was adapted from the play. The play originally toured in 2012 with Charles Edwards (interview) as the King and Jonathan Hyde as Lionel Logue.
You can find interviews with Colin Firth, his voice coach Neil Swain, Charles Edwards, and more, under the King's Speech tag.