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Sabrina Mahfouz: These Bodies of Water

Wed 11 May 2022, 7.45pm
Purcell Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall
Literature & poetry
From £10
past event
past event
Portrait of writer Sabrina Mahfouz wearing gold earrings and a black hat
Greg Morrison

Sabrina Mahfouz launches her debut non-fiction book, These Bodies of Water: Notes on the British Empire, the Middle East and Where We Meet.

In it, Mahfouz investigates the Empire through the Middle Eastern coastlines and waterways that were so vital to its hold.

Interwoven with her own personal experiences, she combines history, politics, myth and poetry, in a devastating examination of this unacknowledged part of Britain’s colonial past.

Joining Mahfouz to bring the text to life are Kareem Samara, oud player and musician, and Laura Hanna, singer and performer.

Sabrina Mahfouz is a writer and performer who was raised in London and Cairo. She works across multiple art forms, including film, TV, opera, dance and music. She is a Royal Society of Literature Fellow.

Kareem Samara is a musician, composer, and organiser. His practice combines traditional Arabic instruments and form with electronics to create a unique soundscape of protest. He is a serial collaborator (Smoked Poets, Bint Mbareh, Ryan Harvey) and often composes for various theatres in and around the UK.

Laura Hanna is a multidisciplinary performer, creator and singer. After training as an actor at Lamda, her career has developed to incorporate movement practises and music, collaborative theatre making and poetry. She also sings with folk-pop band Guise and sits on the steering group for MENA Arts UK.

This event is part of Purcell Sessions

Need to know

Age recommendation

For ages 16+

Join the author for a book signing after this event in the Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer, where These Bodies of Water: Notes on the British Empire, the Middle East and Where We Meet is available to purchase.

Dates & times

Wed 11 May 2022, 7.45pm
Approximate run time: 1 hour 30 mins.
Run times may vary by up to 20 minutes as they can be affected by last-minute programme changes, intervals and encores.


  • Standard entryFrom £10*
  • Concessions25%**

* Excludes £3.50 booking fee.

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** Limited availability. Read about concessions.

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Purcell Room

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Frequently asked questions

Get an overview of the seating layout of the Purcell Room by downloading our seating plan.

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An accessible toilet is located in the foyer.

A Changing Places toilet is located on Level 1 Royal Festival Hall next to the JCB Glass Lift, for the exclusive use of disabled people who need personal assistance to use the toilet.

The facility includes a height-adjustable bench, tracking hoist system, a centrally-placed toilet, a height-adjustable basin and a shower. The phone outside the Changing Places toilet will connect you with a member of staff, who can provide you with the key. The facility is open daily 10am – 11pm.


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Purcell Room is located in Queen Elizabeth Hall. For step-free access please use Royal Festival Hall JCB glass lift to Level 2 and enter via Riverside Terrace.

Talk to a member of staff at the auditorium entrance if you have a disability that means you can’t queue, or you need extra time to take your seat. They can arrange priority entry for you as soon as the doors open.

Please bear with us while we update our access map to reflect the refurbishment of the Royal Festival Hall’s Level 2 foyer spaces. The step-free routes remain the same.

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