LETTERS LIVE returns to London for its most ambitious season yet, with Benedict Cumberbatch & Louise Brealey in starring roles.
Five unique shows at London’s Freemasons’ Hall (Covent Garden), from Tuesday 31st March until Saturday 4th April.
Following its great successes in 2013 and 2014, LETTERS LIVE present its first season of shows in 2015 at the iconic Freemasons’ Hall, one of the finest Art Deco buildings in Britain. Inspired by Letters of Note, the bestselling anthology compiled by Shaun Usher, and To the Letter by Simon Garfield, LETTERS LIVE is a series of curated, live events that celebrate the enduring power of literary correspondence.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Louise Brealey will take to the stage for every night of the Freemasons’ Hall run, reading letters alongside a diverse array of world class performers each evening, including Joss Ackland, Matt Berry, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Samantha Bond, Russell Brand, Simon Callow, Olivia Colman, Sally Hawkins, Richard Holloway, Toby Jones, Sir Ben Kingsley, Allen Leech, Sir Ian McKellen, Caitlin Moran, Tom Odell, Andrew O’Hagan, Sophie Okenedo, Geoffrey Palmer, Clarke Peters, Jonathan Ross, Alan Rusbridger, Colin Salmon, Andrew Scott, Juliet Stevenson, Tom Sturridge, Ashley Walters, Dominic West, and more.
‘LETTERS LIVE makes us pause and imagine the lives behind the letters read and the circumstances of their origin. The relationship between the audience, reader and writer on a LETTERS LIVE night helps deepen our understanding of these inspiring artefacts of the human condition. They are windows into the love, beauty, pain, and humor of their creators and recipients. It’s a privilege to read this most ancient of communications live to an audience.’
‘For me LETTERS LIVE celebrates connection. I love letters. I can never bear to throw them away. I have a big tin in my attic: the billets doux I used to fly down to my pigeonhole at college every morning to read and reread; postcards from my French pen-friend who wrote passionately of his feelings for Australian pop sensation Killy Minnow; a post-it note in a padded envelope of motley biros signed ‘A selection of pens. Luv Mum’. And, most precious now, a sheaf of letters that begin “Dear Louisey”, from my friend who died two years ago; the ones from her last months in strangers’ hand-writing because she’d dictated them to a series of carers, but still irrepressibly her. Some of the letters we read out on the night ache with longing, rage, love, or the hope that we are not alone. Some are just brilliantly funny or profane. Standing up there and speaking words written during the Second World War by Bessie Moore – words that were not meant to be spoken aloud even to her lover – is an electrifying privilege. It doesn’t feel like acting, you have to try to get out of the way; I have rarely felt so close to someone I’ve never met.’
From Virginia Woolf’s heart-breaking suicide letter to the recipe for drop scones sent by Queen Elizabeth II to President Eisenhower; from Elvis Presley’s crazed letter to President Nixon to Gandhi’s appeal to Hitler for calm on the eve of World War II; and from Iggy Pop’s beautiful letter of advice to a troubled young fan to a remarkable job application from Leonardo da Vinci, LETTERS LIVE captures the humour, seriousness, sadness and brilliance that infect all our lives.
The diverse selections of memorable letters selected for each event are read by high profile talent from various fields: actors, comedians, musicians, artists and authors. Using the world’s most entertaining, inspiring and unusual letters, with immense cross-over into the worlds of film, literature, fashion, art and music. The quality of the events to date already makes LETTERS LIVE a unique experience for all, a destination that people want to go to, and an occasion that contributors want to be part of.
We don’t just programme a series of readings, we curate performances taking into consideration the content of the letter, its style, the person who reads it and where, ensuring each event is unique and intimate.
For further details visit the official LETTERS LIVE website.