From Story to Stage: Week of events takes literature off the page

21 Mar 2017

15-21 May 2017


In May 2017, the British Academy opens its doors to celebrate how stories are told, adapted and transformed. In a week of talks, performances and interactive events, the Academy will explore literature on and off the page.

From literary spin-offs of The Famous Five to stage versions of Matilda, new adaptations bring characters and plots to a wider audience, reflecting changing times and tastes. But what does each new storyteller owe to the original text and its author? And can their re-inventions inspire appreciation of old favourites?

Highlights include a discussion at the Royal Opera House with British Academy Fellow, Jonathan Bate, on the challenges of adapting Shakespeare for the stage. Author of the bestselling Enid Blyton for Grown-Ups, Bruno Vincent, will discuss reworking a children’s classic for the twenty-first century, while a free Late evening event will explore how literature continues to be transformed for new audiences, from stage and screen adaptations to artwork inspired by literary classics.

Throughout the week, visitors will be able to drop in on an interactive sensory installation at the British Academy exploring Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice through type, sound, sight and scent by renowned artists AVM Curiosities and Type Tasting.

For further information and to book tickets, please visit

Full listings below:  

Monday 15 May, 6.30-7.30pm
From story to stage
The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH
Talk & performance
Canadian theatre producer Adam Blanshay has financed and produced numerous multi award-winning plays and musicals, from Twelfth Night to Matilda. In this talk he gives an insight into the process of bringing well-known stories to the stage in the West End, Broadway and beyond. Following his talk, enjoy a performance of songs from a special West End star guest.
Organised in partnership with the High Commission of Canada to the UK.
Part of Canada 150.
£10, £7 concessions (includes a glass of wine or soft drink). Book online at:

Tuesday 16 May, 12.30-1.15pm
Re-telling Pride and Prejudice
The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH

Acclaimed author Jo Baker introduces Longbourn, her re-telling of Pride and Prejudice from the servants’ perspective. In this talk, she will discuss why she chose to re-invent a beloved classic and how she created a compelling new tale without alienating Austen fans.
Free, please register online at:

Tuesday 16 May, 6.30-8pm
Austen and the BBC
The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH
Panel discussion

Adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels have been broadcast on the BBC since the 1930s. To mark the 200-year anniversary of her death, renowned Austen scholar Kathryn Sutherland joins the BBC’s Henrietta Foster and Robert Seatter to discuss highlights from their archive, including the 1995 TV serialisation of Pride and Prejudice – arguably the most iconic Austen adaptation of all time.
Organised in partnership with OUP.
£10, £7 concessions (includes a glass of wine or soft drink). Book online at:

Wednesday 17 May, 6.30-7.30pm
Enid Blyton and me
The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH

Author of the bestselling Enid Blyton for Grown-Ups books, Bruno Vincent, explains how the series came about. In this talk he explores the challenges, both administrative and creative, of writing amusing and relevant new books in a series that is seventy-five years old.
£5, £3 concessions. Book online at:
Live subtitling will take place at this event

Wednesday 17 May, 7.30-9pm
Adapting Shakespeare

Clore Studio Upstairs, The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD
Panel discussion
Join some of the creative minds behind Royal Opera House productions as they discuss how the immortal works of William Shakespeare have been adapted for the stage. Hosted by leading Shakespearean scholar Jonathan Bate FBA, this event will explore the joys and challenges of telling, through dance and music, some of the most famous stories ever written.
Organised in partnership with the Royal Opera House
£17, £7 concessions. Book online at:   

Thursday 18 May, 6pm-8pm
Walking Dickens’s London
The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH
Charles Dickens took daily walks through London’s streets, transforming what he saw into fiction and journalism. In turn his stories shaped the city in the collective imagination and his social campaigning improved its reality. Led by Dickens specialist Andrew Sanders, this walking tour explores those intriguing corners of London that still reverberate with the presence of Dickens and the characters he created. The tour will end at the Charles Dickens Museum, where you can enjoy refreshment and entertainment.
Organised in partnership with the Charles Dickens Museum.
Part of Museums at Night.
£20, £15 concessions. Book online at:

Thursday 18 May, 6.30-7.30pm
In celebration of translation

The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH
Panel discussion
Sales of translated fiction in the UK have soared in recent years. Once deemed a niche interest of the cultured elite, the improved visibility of translated literature, and of translators themselves, has signalled a welcome move to the mainstream. Yet despite this progress, the number of translated titles on sale in the UK remains low. Join our panel as they discuss the positive shift in sales and attitudes, current industry challenges, and their hopes for the years ahead.
Organised in partnership with Pushkin Press
£10, £7 concessions (includes a glass of wine or soft drink). Book online at:

Friday 19 May, 6.30-9.30pm
British Academy Late: Off the page
The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH
Enjoy an evening of talks and performances celebrating literature ‘off the page’. From stage and screen adaptations through to artwork inspired by literary classics, this event explores the diverse ways in which literature continues to be adapted and transformed for new audiences.
Full programme to be added online in late April 2017.
Organised in partnership with the Royal Society of Literature.
Free, please register online at:

Saturday 20 May, 2pm-5pm
Inherent Vice
The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG
Film screening

Ian Christie FBA introduces Inherent Vice. Prompted by the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend, drug-addled ‘Doc’ Sportello takes on a number of investigations, leading him into danger and absurdity. Adapted from the Thomas Pynchon novel, the cast includes Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin and Reese Witherspoon. 
2014, 148 minutes, Cert. 15.
Organised in partnership with the British Museum. £3, £2 concessions. Book online at

Saturday 20 May, 2.00-2.30pm
The Little Mermaid
The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH
For the young and young at heart, this performance by storyteller Madelaine Smart offers a new family-friendly adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s classical fairy-tale. Featuring original music by Alex Cottrell, the story is suitable for all ages, but especially recommended for children aged 4–11.
The Liverpool Players, established by Professor Sarah Peverley, specialise in performing early drama and literature to public audiences.
Free, please register online at:  

Saturday 20 May, 4.30-6pm
Literary Spitalfields walking tour
Raven Row gallery, 56 Artillery Lane, London E1 7LS
This walking tour will take you into Spitalfields of the 1890s through the eyes of novelist Israel Zangwill, author of the Victorian bestseller Children of the Ghetto. Dilapidated and overcrowded, nineteenth century Spitalfields was also a vibrant working-class neighbourhood, home to a large population of Jewish immigrants. Discover fragments of this past that still survive with literary historian Nadia Valman, and hear them come to life through her new digital adaptation of Zangwill’s novel.
Please download the free Zangwill’s Spitalfields app and bring your smartphone or iPad to the event.
Free, please register online at: /

15-19 May, 9am-6pm
Pride, Prejudice & Perceptions
The Waiting Room, The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH
Pride, Prejudice & Perceptions is an interactive sensory exploration of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice created by AVM Curiosities & Type Tasting. The typography found in editions of this classic novel gives each a different voice. Taking this as the template, the display will use type, sound, sight and scent to serve one story three ways.
Free, just drop in. Find out more at:
Part of the Open Senses Festival.

Editor's notes

1. The British Academy is the UK’s national academy for the humanities and social sciences. Established by Royal Charter in 1902. Its purpose is to inspire, recognise and support excellence and high achievement in the humanities and social sciences, throughout the UK and internationally, and to champion their role and value. For more information, please visit Follow the British Academy on Twitter @britac_news

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