Letters Live first took place in December 2013 at the Tabernacle in London and quickly established itself as a very powerful and dynamic event format that attracted outstanding talents to performing remarkable letters in front of a live audience.
Inspired by Shaun Usher’s international best-selling Letters of Note series and Simon Garfield’s To the Letter, Letters Live is a live celebration of the enduring power of literary correspondence. Each show always features a completely different array of great performers, reading remarkable letters written over the centuries and from around the world. One of the joys of Letters Live is that one never knows who is going to take to the stage or what letter they are going to bring alive.
The independent publishing house Canongate, who created and developed Letters Live, subsequently partnered with the film and television production company SunnyMarch to build Letters Live into an even more far-reaching and ambitious project. Their shared vision is to harness the power of letters through curated events of exceptional quality and to develop a multi-media platform that delivers the most memorable letters to people all around the world.
Letters Live has brought to the stage letters written by people as varied as David Bowie, Marge Simpson, Mohandas Gandhi, Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, Kurt Vonnegut, Charlotte Bronte, Richard Burton and Che Guevara, and has seen the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliet Stevenson, Ian McKellen, Kylie Minogue, Russell Brand, Caitlin Moran, Matt Berry, Louise Brealey, Tom Sturridge, Ellie Bamber, Tom Hiddleston, Sally Hawkins, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Stephen Fry, Jude Law and Sir Ben Kingsley deliver unique and extraordinary performances.
Letters Live makes us pause and imagine the lives behind the letters read and the circumstances of their origin. It’s a privilege to read this most ancient of communications live to an audience. A truly inspiring event.’
As well as celebrating the pain, joy, wisdom and humour expressed in letters, Letters Live has from the outset been committed to promoting literacy and to fund-raising for literacy charities. This remains an important part of its activities both in the UK and abroad.