I received a note from a friend in Britain who told me that for the last two years there has been a performance in London called LETTERS LIVE. LETTERS LIVE bills itself as “a celebration of the enduring power of literary correspondence.” This year, Benedict Cumberbatch (Imitation Game) takes the stage, along with British actress Louise Brealey and many other special guests, to read letters from the famous and not so famous. Below are the two starring actors thoughts on the project.
‘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 artifacts 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.’
Benedict Cumberbatch, March 2015
‘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 caregivers, 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.’
Louise Brealey, March 2015
I couldn’t have said it better myself!