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Relating to ‘King’s Speech’

May 29, 2011
By KATHRYN SPIRA , For The Leader Herald

I recently watched the Academy Award winning "The King's Speech," starring Colin Firth as King George VI and Geoffrey Rush as his speech therapist. This film is based on actual events that occurred in the 1930s, between WWI and WWII.

King George VI had a speech impediment, as we learned in the film, so he needed a speech coach to learn to overcome his severe stutter. Enter Lionel Logue, who winds up being a masterful speech coach, a friend and a therapeutic mastermind into exploring what really happened to King George as a little boy. King George said his stutter started when he was about 4 years old.

What is brilliant about Geoffrey Rush's Academy Award nominated performance as Lionel Logue and Colin Firth's Oscar-winning role is the wonderful relationship that develops between the two men.

I strongly recommend this film, which has won so many Academy Awards including Best Picture.

Where I can so relate to this film is the training of speech exercises that I had to do myself as an actress in training at Indiana University. I remember taking voice and diction classes every year I was there. One exercise was repeating "The lithe police dismisseth us" quickly in succession five times until you got it perfect. It's more difficult than "she sells seashells by the sea shore," but it is basically the same concept.

Now let me bring you up to the current time for me and my own speech problem due to the MS. My diaphragm, which supports the breath to speak, is weakened. It is very difficult for me to produce volume and clarity in my speech. As my aide Terry is always reminding me "Articulate!" meaning to hit hard on the consonants because it helps to produce volume without really trying.

So, dear readers, when you see me out and about and you strike up a conversation with me, it is not that I am not responding on purpose or sound like I've had three cocktails when I do speak. See, it doesn't sound like that before it comes out of my mouth nor does it belie my intellect.

Please don't walk away from me thinking, "Oh, that poor woman! Look what the MS has taken from her," because it has given me so much more than it has taken away. It has made me slow down from my hot pursuit of an acting career and smell the roses.

Life is good as I'm looking happily out at the lake with my support system surrounding me and that includes you, who I get to speak to very clearly through my column every week. So, thank you for helping me speak clearly every Sunday.

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues free lance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns and contact information may be accessed at her website at



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