Library, Film Series and Tanner Center pave way for ‘The Audience’
When the Park City Library partnered with the Park City Film Series and the University of Utah’s Tanner Humanities Center last December for a sold-out National Theatre Live screening of "Hamlet," featuring Benedict Cumberbatch, adult services librarian Jessica Manis knew it would be a special experience.
"Park City is such a film and theater-oriented place, so we felt it was important that the library participate," Manis told The Park Record. "It’s so important for the Park City Library to fit our programing into what the community wants and what the community needs and find intellectually satisfying."
The three organizations will continue the partnership for a special screening of "The Audience," featuring Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II, in the Jim Santy Auditorium on Saturday, March 19, at 4 p.m. The screening, as it was with "Hamlet," is underwritten by Julie Hopkins, of Keller Williams Realty.
"The Audience," which is not rated, sets up speculative scenarios of a weekly meeting that the Queen has had with each of her 12 prime minsters from Winston Churchill in 1951 to David Cameron in the present day, according to Park City Film Series Executive Director Katharine Wang.
"This meeting is known as The Audience, but no one, not even their spouses, knows what is discussed," Wang said. "While it’s imagining of what happens behind closed doors, it is also a revealing of the Queen herself, especially during some pivotal moments in history.
"It’s intriguing because she has definitely seen a lot," Wang said. "She’s the longest-reigning monarch still living and she started her reign back when she was 18."
"The Audience" was written by Peter Morgan — who also wrote the screenplay for "The Queen" — and directed by Stephen Daldry, who is known for the films "Billy Elliott" and "The Hours."
Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren portrays Queen Elizabeth.
"Of course, Helen Mirren is a fabulous actor and she won a Tony for this role," Wang said. "So this is a great production from beginning to end."
"The Audience" ran at London’s West End and in New York and was nominated for three Tony Awards, Wang said.
"The run in London was considered the best by the critics and that’s the one that National Theatre Live captured [on film] and one we will screen," she said. "So, to have the opportunity to go see a West End production one afternoon in Park City is pretty amazing. So, we were pretty excited to partner with Tanner and the Library to make this happen."
The Tanner Humanities Center reached out to the Park City Library and Park City Film Series nearly two years ago about forming the partnership, Wang said.
"[The center has] a great partnership with the Salt Lake Film Society and they wanted to come up to Park City," she said. "This was something we have been thinking about for some time because we wanted to find a way to expand the cultural opportunity for our audiences through film."
The idea was put on hold until after the library’s renovation and started up last winter.
"The National Theatre Live program is world-renowned and they’ve come along way from the days when audiences would go to the movie theater and just watch a regular stage play," Wang said. "Now, because of digital cinema, it’s high resolution and the sound is obviously much better. But they also utilize that and zoom in and get different camera angles. So it’s more engaging."
Manis said the "Hamlet" screening was a huge success, so it seemed ideal to host another similar event.
"The show sold out weeks before the screening and I think that created a lot of buzz," she said. "I’m sure a lot of the draw was Benedict Cumberbatch, with the younger audience, but we also had people who loved theater as well. We had people who haven’t visited the library before attend. So the exposure was huge for the library."
Wang would like to see this partnership sprout a screening every quarter.
"We’re trying to get one in May and then take a break in the summer and come back with one in September," she said. "We hope people will bring their children and we hope students will come to enjoy world-class theater in the Santy Auditorium."
The partnership opens up so many different opportunities for the library, said Manis.
"We already have a movie license so we can screen films, but the partnership with Tanner allows us access to not only a huge variety of films, but also theater," she said.
While there won’t be a pre-screening panel discussion, Saturday’s event will feature at 20-minute intermission and Girl Scouts selling Girl Scout Cookies.
"That way people can have cookies and tea, in keeping with the British tradition, during intermission if they want," Wang said with a laugh. "We also did get a special-event permit, so beer and wine will be sold to adults."
The Park City Library, along with the Park City Film Series and the Tanner Humanities Center, will present a special screening of National Theatre Live’s production of Stephen Daldry’s "The Audience," not rated, at the Jim Santy Auditorium of the Park City Library, 1233 Park Ave., on Saturday, March 19, at 4 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for Park City Film Series and Friends of the Park City Library members and $10 for students. For more information, visit http://www.parkcityfilmseries.com.
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