Based on the hit comedy by Tony Award winner STEPHEN KARAM
LIAM JAMES, SARAH STEELE, AUSTIN P. MCKENZIE, SKYLAR ASTIN, ROGER BART, JANEANE GAROFALO, WENDI MCLENDON-COVEY, KAL PENN, KIMBERLY WILLIAMS-PAISLEY
WITH SPECIAL APPEARANCES BY
LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA, KRISTIN CHENOWETH & DARREN CRISS
Written by STEPHEN KARAM
Directed by DAN HARRIS
Produced by TOM RICE
Available in Select Theaters, on iTunes and VOD APRIL 7, 2017
January 27, 2017 – Sycamore Pictures (Begin Again, The Hollars, The Way Way Back) announces the theatrical release of SPEECH & DEBATE, based on the critically acclaimed comedy by Tony Award winner Stephen Karam (The Humans) and directed by Dan Harris. Premiering Friday, April 7, 2017 in select theaters, on iTunes and VOD, the film stars Liam James, Sarah Steele, Austin P. McKenzie, Roger Bart, Janeane Garofalo, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Kal Penn, Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Skylar Astin. Featuring cameos by Broadway’s biggest stars, a stellar supporting cast, and an original song performed by Kristin Chenoweth, Speech & Debate is sure to thrill audiences young and old, alike!
The wickedly funny Speech & Debate follows three teenagers brought together by a series of mishaps. Frustrated by the hypocrisy they see in their parents, teachers, and the entire school board, the unlikely trio set out to find a common truth and make their voices heard as they revive a defunct school club and take on the world. Blogging, blackmail, and Broadway belting drive the trio’s bond in this outrageous comedy. Sarah Steele (“The Good Wife”), returns to the big screen as the beloved “Diwata;” a role she originated Off-Broadway. Liam James (The Way, Way Back) and Austin P. McKenzie (Spring Awakening) star as her unlikely friends, “Solomon” and “Howie.”
Fresh off his Broadway breakthrough and Tony Award for The Humans, playwright Stephen Karam adapts his first comedy Speech & Debate for the screen. Three of Karam’s acclaimed plays including Speech & Debate, Sons of the Prophet and The Humans premiered at New York City’s Roundabout Theatre Company and continued on to success around the country. Karam is a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist & two-time NY Drama Critics Circle winner; as well as an Obie, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle, Lucille Lortel and Hull-Warriner award winner. Having appeared in the New York productions of both Speech & Debate and The Humans, actress Sarah Steele returns to the big screen for Karam’s film debut.
Available in select theaters, on iTunes and VOD Friday, April 7, 2017.
Sycamore Pictures is partnering with Vertical Entertainment to distribute the film. Vertical Entertainment is a global independent distributor who recently received five Film Independent Spirit Award nominations – four for Chris Kelly’s “Other People” starring Jesse Plemons and Molly Shannon, and one for Babak Anvari’s “Under the Shadow”, which was also the official UK submission for the 2017 Oscars.
LIAM JAMES (Solomon) is best known for playing the lead role of ‘Duncan’ in The Way, Way Back opposite Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney. The film, which premiered at Sundance 2013 with a record-breaking sale to Fox Searchlight, was the directorial debut of Oscar winners Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (The Descendants), who also wrote the script. The film won critical and commercial acclaim and Liam was singled out for his performance on numerous critics’ year-end lists, including a nomination for a Critics Choice Award in the category of ‘Best Young Actor/Actress.’ Most recently, Liam was last seen starring on “The Family” for ABC. He played the son of Joan Allen, who after being kidnapped and held captive in a basement for twelve years, finally escapes and is reunited with his family. He also recently filmed the lead role in The Sycamore Films feature adaptation of Stephen Karam’s award winning play Speech and Debate. Liam began his acting career at the age of nine in his native Vancouver, British Columbia and in the ten years since, has built a unique career spanning both film and television. His first role was in the TV series "Psych," where he played the younger version of James Roday in flashbacks for five seasons. Since that launching point, he has worked on studio feature films including FOX’s Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, Paramount Pictures’ Things We Lost in the Fire with Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro, Warner Bros.’ Fred Claus, and the Sony blockbuster 2012 opposite Amanda Peet and John Cusack, which was directed by Roland Emmerich. In 2010, Liam was cast in AMC's "The Killing" opposite Mireille Enos, where he portrayed her son ‘Jack’ for four seasons.
SARAH STEELE (Diwata). Broadway: The Humans, The Country House. Off-Broadway: The Humans, Slowgirl, Russian Transport, All-American, Speech & Debate, The Netflix Plays and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Regional: Not Waving (Williamstown Theatre Festival). Film: Speech & Debate, Permission, Viena and the Fantomes, The Mend, Adult Beginners, The To Do List, Please Give, Margaret, Spanglish and Man (short). Television: Upcoming: “The Good Wife” spin-off “The Good Fight,” “The Good Wife,” “Girls,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Blue Bloods,” “Harry’s Law,” “Gossip Girl,” and “Law & Order.” Sarah has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Columbia University.
AUSTIN P. MCKENZIE (Howie) can be seen starring in the upcoming ABC miniseries “When We Rise” from award winning writer/producer Dustin Lance Black and director Gus Van Sant. He recently made his Broadway debut starring in the critically acclaimed Broadway revival of Spring Awakening, for which he received the 2016 Theatre World Award. Austin is extremely passionate about working with people with special needs and continues to spend his summers as a counselor at a camp in Arizona, where he has been volunteering for the past 7 years.
STEPHEN KARAM (Screenplay). Plays include The Humans (Tony Award for Best Play), Speech & Debate and Sons of the Prophet, which was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and the winner of 2012 Drama Critics Circle, Outer Critics Circle, Lucille Lortel and Hull-Warriner Awards for Best Play. He wrote the screenplay for Chekhov’s The Seagull and adapted The Cherry Orchard for Roundabout Theatre Company’s production last fall. He teaches playwriting at The New School. A Graduate of Brown University, he was born and raised in Scranton, PA.
TOM RICE (Producer) co-founded Sycamore Pictures in 2011 with partner Ben Nearn. He produced the Sundance hit The Way, Way Back starring Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell, John Carney’s Begin Again starring Kiera Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s Mississippi Grind, starring Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelsohn, John Krasinski’s The Hollars, with Anna Kendrick and Margo Martindale, the dysfunctional family comedy A Merry Friggin’ Christmas starring Robin Williams and Joel McHale, and the Oscar-nominated short Kavi. Rice grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, attended New York's School of Visual Arts and currently resides in Los Angeles, and is an avid collector of the LOB trading cards. Upcoming films include Collide starring Nicholas Hoult and Felicity Jones, and UFO starring Alex Sharp and Gillian Anderson.
# # #