Performance: Tongues Of Flame: The Extraordinary Life Of Richard Francis Burton

Past event archive
9 October 2014, 19:00

Room 20

Tickets: £7 (£6 concessions and Gallery Supporters) Book online, or visit the Gallery in person.



Sir Richard Francis Burton, by Frederic Leighton, Baron Leighton, 1872-1885 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Sir Richard Francis Burton
by Frederic Leighton, Baron Leighton
1872-1885
NPG 1070

Storyteller Giles Abbott recounts the remarkable exploits of Sir Richard Francis Burton - explorer, writer, poet, linguist, swordsman, Arabist and spy - accompanied by Kurdish Iraqi singer Nawroz..

Burton led an expedition to find the true source of the Nile, was fluent in over forty languages, was the first non-Muslim to enter the holy city of Harar and completed the Haj from Suez to Mecca, living in disguise for nearly a year. His mausoleum at St Mary Magdalen Church in Mortlake, south west London, is in the form of a Bedouin tent filled with artefacts from a desert caravan. Told in a style which echoes The Arabian Nights, of which Burton made the first unexpurgated English translation, this cracking story loops backwards and forwards in time, exploring the enigma of this extraordinary man.

Giles Abbott discovered storytelling in 1999 as a result of losing much of his ‘useful eyesight’. Now registered blind, he is one of the UK’s leading storytellers, creating moving performances at locations as diverse as the British Museum to festival hot tubs. He creates imaginative new work and interpretations of classics. He has a particular interest stories from the British Isles and Norse traditions, but recently has been commissioned to create stories based on intriguing, remarkable and lesser-known figures in British history, such as Richard Burton and Allan Hume,  founder of the Indian National Congress. Giles qualified as a Voice Teacher at Central School of Speech and Drama in 2006. He is co-founder of the Academy Of Oratory where he teaches the art of persuasion. Giles is joined by the Kurdish Iraqi singer Nawroz who has used his voice throughout his life to challenge restrictions to freedom for Iraqi Kurds.

Contains occasional adult themes and references to violence


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