Christopher Plummer – A Word or Two …
The Esther Elson Memorial Lecture
Tuesday, February 19, 2019, 3:00PM
Walter S. Gubelmann Auditorium

Please note that due to extraordinary interest in the 2019 Esther B. O’Keeffe Speaker season, tickets for this event will not be available to non-members.

The classically-trained actor is one of the finest performers of his generation. In his Oscar acceptance speech, he spoke to the statuette, saying “You’re only two years older than me, darling. Where have you been all my life?”

My performance will be excerpts from my one­-man show, “A Word or Two,” which I have put together. The purpose of “A Word or Two” is simply to celebrate language which seems to be fast vanishing from our midst. It could be described as showing what impact the written word can have on impressionable youth and is very much a personal stroll through literature, a literature that has long stirred my imagination and that, for one reason or another, I cannot let go. The poetry and prose I have chosen to accompany my journey are both silly and sad, sacred and profane: ranging from A. A. Milne to the Bible, Shaw and Wilde to Coleridge and Marlowe, W.H. Auden and Nabokov to Rostand and MacLeish, Shakespeare and Byron to Nash and Leacock. It is intended not just to show the myriad of colors words can paint, but to illuminate along the way the several phases of my particular moon. If there must be a “theme,” let it be my eternal gratitude to a family who, from the moment I formed my first sentence, made me aware of the joy and magic of language which, after all, is our heritage to hold on to for dear life while we can.

 – Christopher Plummer



Born in Ontario, Canada, Christopher Plummer took an early interest in the stage, acting in various productions that included ballet and opera. After headlining for three of the world’s most noted theater companies, Plummer starred in a host of movies, most memorably playing Baron Georg Von Trapp in the smash hit musical “The Sound of Music” (1965).

Though he remained prolific both on stage and on screen, the classically trained actor struggled to find film roles that paralleled his immense talent. Plummer found solace on the stage, where he won Tonys for Best Leading Actor in the musical “Cyrano” (1974) and the drama “Barrymore” (1997). He also gave a titular performance in “King Lear” (2004).

Classically handsome and equally capable of channeling good nature or villainy as required by the script, Plummer also easily straddled starring and character roles, acting in such acclaimed films as “The Man Who Would Be King” (1975), “The Insider” (1999), “A Beautiful Mind” (2001), “The New World” (2005), and “Syriana” (2005). He has worked with directors as diverse as John Huston, Spike Lee, Michael Mann and Ron Howard.

He garnered an Academy Award nomination as the literary revolutionary Leo Tolstoy in “The Last Station” (2009). Within the next year, he won his first Oscar in a supporting role for “Beginners” (2010). In 2017 the octogenarian was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for his performance, replacing Kevin Spacey, as J. Paul Getty in Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World.”

The Esther B. O’Keeffe Speaker Series features notable speakers from the fields of politics, culture and the media. Lectures take place January through March on Tuesdays at 3 p.m.


Tickets available to Four Arts Members only

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