Play Reading in English – The Audience by Peter Morgan (2013)


HK English Speaking Union
  • Mon 16-03-2015 7:15 PM - 2 h

Colette Artbar

Free admission


For sixty years Queen Elizabeth II has met each of her twelve prime ministers in a weekly audience at Buckingham Palace, a meeting like no other in British public life. It is completely private and both parties have an unspoken agreement never to repeat what is said. However, Peter Morgan's play breaks this contract of silence by imagining that we can observe and eavesdrop, like a fly on the wall, on what is discussed between the Queen and her Premier during their weekly meetings. From Churchill onwards, after the young Elizabeth had just ascended the British throne, the custom became established for her to hold a regular confidential discussion about the current affairs and issues of the day - or rather, week. The audiences started because it was felt that the Queen was inexperienced in matters of state following her father's sudden death.


Morgan's imaginary meetings form a non-linear, non-chronological series of vignettes affording us a glimpse inside the private lives of some famous figures, both living and deceased, including the Queen herself, Churchill, Thatcher and current Premier, Cameron. However, in the episodic scenes we witness the less famous and successful prime ministers, particularly Wilson, Major and Brown, are portrayed as the ones with whom the Queen has most human empathy. Naturally the play is not a documentary but a work of fiction based on Morgan's thorough research. Nevertheless when Morgan was writing the screenplay for Stephen Frears's 2006 film, The Queen, he was advised to omit then Prime Minister Blair for fear of legal action, advice he chose not to follow. In his stage play 'sequel' to that film Blair is the only Prime Minister of note that he leaves out. After the play-reading we may discuss why he chose to ignore 'Teflon Tony' (Teflon is a no-sticking material used in making cooking utensils), a man who clearly saw himself as an important figure on the world stage.


Helen Mirren's virtuoso performance as the Queen in the earlier Stephen Frears film and subsequently in this stage production at the Gielgud Theatre, London won many critical plaudits, and the version of the play transmitted to Hong Kong cinemas last year was immensely popular, being sold out for every screening. Come and enjoy the play as a reading. All welcome. There is no need to read if you don't wish to. If you prefer, you are welcome just to listen. However, all who wish to read will have the opportunity to do so.


Facilitators: Julian Quail & Mike Ingham

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