Figures of Speech

A series of short films produced for the Almeida Theatre which are based around famous, or in some cases infamous, political speeches.

Bringing together the most exciting artists to provoke, inspire and surprises audiences, Figures of Speech uses the power of performance to explore big political and social ideas, to interrogate the vitality of speech to remember. 

Included are Ian McKellen’s take on Harvey Milk’s Hope Speech (first delivered on the steps of San Francisco City Hall encouraging people to celebrate their differences and offering hope for the future), Derek Jacobi reading Socrates’ speech I Go To Die (which found the Greek philosopher in a changed country amid a failing economy. Socrates spoke the truth – the cost of doing so was death), and Noma Dumezweni reading Margaret Sanger’s The Morality of Birth Control, given at the first American Birth Control Conference in 1921.

The project was an attempt to pose the question of what does political leadership look like in our own age of uncertainty? And how might we reimagine our present and future with the ideas that inspired the past?