Benedict Cumberbatch & Pregnant Wife Sophie Hunter Celebrate Incredible Women At Porter's Live Letters Special!

Benedict Cumberbatch & Pregnant Wife Sophie Hunter Celebrate Incredible Women At Porter’s Live Letters Special!

Today, February 26th 2018, is an auspicious date in the journey of the British theatrical show LETTERS LIVE. This show, in which remarkable letters from the past, written by the famous and not so famous, will be performed by talented readers for the very first time in the USA at the historic Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, from 8pm.

First launched in December 2013 at the Tabernacle in London, LETTERS LIVE quickly established itself as a powerful and dynamic event format that attracted outstanding talents to perform 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 and emotive power of literary correspondence; such power that it makes one almost regret the demise of such hand-written correspondence, as the mere nature of their slower-paced delivery afforded the letter writer time to muse, reflect and compose his words more thoughtfully than the cold, short, often thoughtless emails and texts that we use today. We wonder what future generations will make of our communications, compared to those that came before us.

LETTERS LIVE breathes life into the writers’ innermost thoughts and views, and the period and circumstances in which they wrote, and so makes their message much more poignant and relevant to us today. It is also an enduring historical record that brings to life the lives, situations and emotions of characters from bygone periods, casting new light on our knowledge of the period and challenging our own prejudices.

One such letter, “Husband until Death”, was penned by a slave, Abream Scriven to his wife. Read by Ashley Walters, it describes Abream’s pending upheaval, after being sold to another slave-master far away. He expresses his distress at being parted from his family in eloquent terms. His words are an indictment of the dreadful cruelty that was slavery, and the experience of not having control over his life, future or circumstances, written by somebody who experienced them at first hand. They ring down through the ages to us all.


Sept the 19. 1858
Dinah Jones, my Dear Wife, I take the pleasure of writing you these few lines with much regret to inform you that I am Sold to a man by the name of Peterson a trader and Stays in New Orleans. I am here yet but I expect to go before long but when I get there I will write and let you know where I am. My Dear I want to Send you Some things but I do not know who to Send them by but I will try to get them to you and my children. Give my love to my father & mother and tell them good bye for me. and if we Shall not meet in this world I hope to meet in heaven. My Dear wife for you and my Children my pen cannot Express the grief I feel to be parted from you all.
I remain yours truly
husband until death
Abream Scriven

On a lighter note, “Dont Touch his Hair” features a letter from three adoring Elvis fans to U.S. president Eisenhower, that was read by Ellie Bamber

Box 755
Noxon, Mont
Dear President Eisenhower,
My girlfriend’s and I are writting all the way from Montana, We think its bad enough to send Elvis Presley in the Army, but if you cut his side burns off we will just die! You don’t no how we fell about him, I really don’t see why you have to send him in the Army at all, but we beg you please please don’t give him a G.I. hair cut, oh please please don’t! If you do we will just about die!
Elvis Presley Lovers
Linda Kelly
Sherry Bane
Mickie Mattson

On their site, you can access the letters either by clicking on view all letters or by choosing a theme that appeals from a range of subject matters such as:

advice angry art Christmas civil rights death family fictional funny kids life literary love music politics positivity refugee sad slavery terrorism thanks war

Alongside the correspondence from such unknown writers, are letters written by the likes of David Bowie, Mohandas Gandhi, Maya Angelou, Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, Kurt Vonnegut, Charlotte Bronte, Tom Hanks, Katherine Hepburn, Richard Burton, Patti Smith, Abraham Lincoln, James Baldwin, and Che Guevara, performed by an array of talent including Benedict Cumberbatch, Gillian Anderson, Ian McKellen, Kylie Minogue, Russell Brand, Thandie Newton, Riz Ahmed, Juliet Stevenson, Le Var Burton, Sally Hawkins, JJ Abrams, Noma Dumezweni, Oscar Isaac, Jude Law, Nick Cave and Sir Ben Kingsley.

As each show always features a completely different array of great performers, readers at UK events have included; Tom Sturridge, Matt Berry, Tom Hiddleston, Kylie Minogue, Thandie Newton, Nick Moran, Caitlin Moran, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jarviz Cocker and Ian McKellen.

For its US premiere, today, the first wave of letter performers have been announced as:

Jake Gyllenhaal, Jarvis Cocker, James Corden, Minnie Driver, Stephen Fry, Mark Hamill, Anjelica Huston, Catherine Keener, Shirley Manson, Ian McShane, and Annabelle Wallis,  with more guests to be announced.
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!

“Hear the best letters in the world read by the best voices” – The Observer

Originally created and developed by the independent publishing house Canongate, they have 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 to develop a multi-media platform that delivers the most memorable letters to people all around the world.

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.

As LETTERS LIVE producer and performer Benedict Cumberbatch writes:

“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 form of communication to a live audience.”

Tickets for the 26 February LETTERS LIVE performance are available for purchase here at the following link:

Ticket prices range from $50 to $200 with all the profits from ticket sales being donated to the two partner charities for the night, 826LA, and Women for Women International.
About   826LA

826LA is a non-profit organization with centers in Echo Park and Mar Vista, a Writers’ Room at
Manual Arts High School in South LA, and relationships with Los Angeles public schools. 826LA’s
mission is to support students ages six to eighteen with their creative and expository writing skills,
and to help teachers inspire their students to write. Since 2005, 826LA has served 65,000+ students. 826LA’s free programs target economically disadvantaged students.

About   Women for Women International

With over twenty brutal armed conflicts across the globe and unprecedented levels of violence against women, there’s never been a greater need to support women survivors of war.
Through Women for Women International’s 12-month programme, women learn about their rights, as well as key life, vocational and business skills to access livelihoods and break free from poverty.
Since 1993, Women for Women International has supported over 462,000 women in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kosovo, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Sudan. They also engage men in their work, to break down prejudices and practices which prevent women from reaching their full potential. To find out more visit

Registered charity number 1115109.

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Written by: Vivienne Sharman-Lewis,


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