The Choral | Alan Bennett’s first original screenplay in 40 years begins filming this summer

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Playwright Alan Bennett has written original screenplay The Choral, which will begin filming this summer.

There’s a reason a remake of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads monologues (pictured above) was one of the first things put into production when the pandemic started in 2020. Not only were they easy to film with a single cast member, but the texts are also regarded as modern classics of drama, each story a masterpiece in construction and storytelling. You only have to watch the original versions to see the astonishing power of David Haig in Playing Sandwiches or Dame Thora Hird in A Cream Cracker Under The Settee.

The Choral, meanwhile, is Alan Bennett’s first original script written for the screen in forty years, after 1984 comedy A Private Function. The synopsis reads as follows:

Set in Ramsden, Yorkshire in 1916, the plot centers on the chorus master and most of the men of the ambitious local Choral Society, who have volunteered for the front. Under the direction of the demanding, driven Dr. Guthrie (Ralph Fiennes), the Choral recruits a crop of teenage boys and girls. Together they discover the joys of singing and the urgency of desire as the new boys come to terms with their imminent conscription into the army. The pic explores the humor and humanity at the heart of a community facing an uncertain future.

The cast also includes Jim Broadbent and Simon Russell Beale.

The film reunites Bennett with his regular collaborator, director Nicholas Hytner, who has directed the majority of his films and plays at the National Theatre.

In recent years, Bennett has adapted his stage plays for the big screen. It began in 1994 with a hugely successful adaptation of The Madness Of King George, in which Nigel Hawthorne played the title role. In 2006, he adapted The History Boys, which starred a young ensemble which included James Corden, Dominic Cooper and Russell Tovey. 2015’s The Lady In The Van was based on Bennett’s own life, when he let a woman live in a van on his drive for more than twenty years. Alex Jennings and Maggie Smith starred. Last year saw Heidi Thomas adapt his play Allelujah, a dark comedy drama about the NHS.

The Choral will begin filming this summer, we’ll keep you updated as we hear more.


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