Words That Changed The World

Thursday 30 November 2017, 7pm | Emmanuel Centre

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Words That Changed The World

For 15 years, Intelligence Squared has vigorously championed the spoken word. The finest speakers from across the globe have come to our stage — to argue, to move, to persuade and change minds. Their speeches epitomise the vital role that public speaking plays in our lives. To celebrate the power of oratory, we are holding a major event which will showcase how great speeches have swayed the course of history and demonstrate how, more than ever, we need them to help define our values and who we are.

Barack Obama’s director of speechwriting, Cody Keenan, will be sharing his experience of helping craft the presidential speeches that moved the hearts and minds of millions around the world. Alongside him will be Philip Collins, Tony Blair’s former speechwriter and Times columnist, whose new book argues for the importance of speeches in protecting and promoting democracy. With Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis in the chair, Keenan and Collins will unpack the tricks and techniques that have been used by the most brilliant orators down the centuries and which are still working their magic today. Bringing this all to life will be star actors Carey Mulligan, Jeremy Irons and Simon Russell Beale, who will perform extracts from remarkable speeches – some familiar, others that will surprise – from different continents and eras.

What is it about a great speech that can give voice to people’s intense but unarticulated feelings? What is that special alchemy of words and personal charisma that makes us as susceptible to dangerous demagogues as to the morally uplifting oratory of a Mandela, a Martin Luther King or a JFK? Join us on November 30th, hear the experts, enjoy the oratory, and learn why speeches matter.

Speakers

Philip Collins

Columnist for The Times, where he pioneered the analysis of major speeches. He was chief speechwriter to prime minister Tony Blair in 10 Downing Street between 2004 and 2007 and has subsequently written keynote speeches for a range of senior politicians, leaders of charities and NGOs and CEOs. He is the author of The Art of Speeches and Presentations and the forthcoming When They Go Low, We Go High: Speeches that shape the world – and why we need them.

Cody Keenan

Speechwriter for President Barack Obama during his eight years in the White House. Between 2013 and 2017 he was the president’s chief speechwriter, helping to craft Obama’s State of the Union Address, the Selma 50th anniversary speech, and his farewell address in Chicago. In 2017 Obama asked Keenan to continue their partnership and today Keenan is collaborating with Obama on his forthcoming book.

Chair

Emily Maitlis

Presenter of BBC Newsnight and one of the country’s best known broadcasters. She presents the BBC’s election coverage specials, including the recent US election, and has made a number of BBC documentaries, for which she has interviewed Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump.

Actors

Jeremy Irons

One of Britain’s best known actors who has enjoyed success in film and on television and stage. He shot to stardom in the early 1980s when he played Charles Ryder in the TV series Brideshead Revisited, and won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as Claus von Bulow in Reversal of Fortune. Other film highlights include The French Lieutenant’s Woman, The Mission, Dead Ringers and Damage. He is the voice of the evil lion Scar in Disney’s classic The Lion King and starred opposite Bruce Willis in Die Hard: With A Vengeance. Irons received a Tony Award for his performance in Tom Stoppard¹s play The Real Thing.

Carey Mulligan

One of Britain’s brightest stars on stage and screen. Her film credits include her breakout starring role in the film An Education, for which she won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress and was nominated for an Academy Award; Suffragette, in which she starred alongside Meryl Streep; and the lead role in Far From the Madding Crowd. On stage she played alongside Bill Nighy in the revival of David Hare’s Skylight, and received a Tony Award nomination when the play transferred to Broadway.

Simon Russell Beale

One of the most acclaimed stage actors of his generation. He won an Olivier award for his performance in the title role in Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya in 2003, and has been hailed for his countless Shakespearean roles, including King Lear, Macbeth, Prospero and Hamlet, as well as Richard III and Iago in productions directed by Sam Mendes. He played King Arthur in the Monty Python musical Spamalot, and George Smiley in BBC Radio 4’s adaptation of John Le Carré’s Smiley novels. He has twice won a BAFTA award, for his performances in A Dance to the Music of Time and The Hollow Crown.

Participants are subject to change.

 

About Rugby Portobello Trust

Rugby Portobello Trust

RPT is a community support group working in deprived areas. At the height of the Grenfell Tower emergency RPT offered practical support and kindness to the residents. They continue to work with the families helping with clothing, housing, grants and emotional therapy, and have organised programmes for children and mothers from Grenfell. New programmes include Grenfell Football Club, Saturday arts programme and community café.