literature & poetry
accessible events

Once Upon Our Times: Fairy Tales Retold

Part of London Literature Festival

This year, we celebrate 40 years since the publication of Angela Carter's short story collection The Bloody Chamber, which exposes the dark, hidden truths of traditional stories, creating fairy tales for the modern age.

Hear live readings from Tina Chiang, Paapa Essiedu, Toby Jones, Amara Karan and Imogen Stubbs, including an abridged version of ‘Company of Wolves’, taken from The Bloody Chamber.

The readings include stories inspired by ancient tales, featuring Salman Rushdie's take on an Arabian Nights tale and Marlon James' visceral riff on African folklore, and specially commissioned stories from Daisy Johnson and Sharlene Teo.

Directed by Jack McNamara of New Perspectives, Once Upon Our Times takes audiences across the world, giving new resonance to timeless narratives. The event features live music performed by three of the UK’s leading improvisers: Angharad Davies (violin), Áine O’Dwyer (harp) and Lee Patterson (electronics).

Tina Chiang is an actor who studied at RADA. Her theatre credits include Mountains: The Dreams of Lily Kwok, Chimerica and Fox Attack. Her television credits include Bodyguard, Good Omens and Coronation Street.

Paapa Essiedu played Hamlet for the RSC at the age of 25, earning him the Ian Charleson Award and the Best Actor Award at the UK Theatre Awards. Essiedu’s screen credits include leading roles in BAFTA-winning drama Kiri and The Miniaturist. In 2018, he was named as one of BAFTA’s Breakthrough Brits.

Toby Jones is a BAFTA-winning actor. His recent stage credits include Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party and Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp., written by Caryl Churchill. In 2020, he returns to the stage in Conor McPherson's Uncle Vanya. Recent film credits include Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the Palme d'Or nominated film Happy End and World War One drama Journey's End.

Amara Karan made her film debut in Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited, most recently appearing in The Death and Life of John F. Donovan. Television credits include The Night Of, Stan Lee's Lucky Man and Doctor Who. Karan has appeared in several RSC productions since 2008.

Imogen Stubbs’ recent stage credits include Honour, The Be All and End All and Things I Know to Be. For the RSC Stubbs appeared in Othello and Two Noble Kinsmen. Her film work includes Jack & Sarah and Twelfth Night; her television work includes Parents and Collusion.

Dates & times

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Queen Elizabeth Hall


Booking fee: £3.50 (Members £0.00)

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need to know

Age recommendation
For ages 16+

Southbank Centre takes a strong view on secondary ticketing. We require the lead booker to attend (photo ID may be requested). Tickets can only be resold by Southbank Centre or one of its authorised agents.

Multi-buy discount
Book three or more literature and poetry events in the same transaction and receive a 25% discount. Selected events only.

Access information
This event is British Sign Language interpreted (BSL).

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