Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Tell A Tale in 500 Words

“A day wasted on others is not wasted on one’s self” Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens is celebrated as one of Britain’s greatest writers. With novels such as Oliver Twist, Bleak House, Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities he created some of the most amusing and enduring characters in fiction.

Dickens lived in the Victorian era, a time of change and moral responsibility where social problems such as poverty, rioting and poor working and living conditions were widespread. During his life, Dickens was an advocate for children’s rights and free public education and through his novels attempted to address the social inequalities he observed.

In A Tale of Two Cities, he explored his concerns that the troubles people were facing in England would lead to a revolution similar to that which had happened in France in the 1790s and drew attention to the inevitability of violence caused by the irresponsibility of people in power.


This project needs you!

In celebration of Dickens and to mark the Autumn 2016 theatre tour of Mike Poulton’s adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities, we want you to write a 500-word tale with the theme making change happen. Dickens wrote many short stories and believed doing so helped people release private emotions and fantasies that couldn’t be placed in longer narratives.


Get writing! 

Dickens created worlds and characters to bring wider attention to the issues he felt needed to be changed and to give a voice to the people of his time.

We want you to tell a tale with the theme making change happen. How you do it is up to you! Your tale doesn’t have to be set in Victorian England, or even England at all! It doesn’t have to be about people or politics. It could be about a lonely robot or a baby frog. Be as imaginative as you can!


All we ask is that you look at the themes from A Tale of Two Cities as your inspiration and think about what you would like to change and how.

Themes: inequality, revolution, sacrifice, violence, shadows and darkness, imprisonment.



A Tale of Two Cities premieres on 12th September at Royal & Derngate, Northampton. It then tours to cities and town across the UK until 26 November 2016.

  • At each city or town, Theatre Cloud and the Tell A Tale judges will select two tales to send to the cast of A Tale of Two Cities. An actor will then choose their favourite tale and perform a filmed reading at the theatre. Each reading will be available to watch online and makes it onto the shortlist.
  • In the final week of the tour, the Tell A Tale judges will review the shortlisted tales and decide which one comes top and receives a grand prize of £300. Judges will also choose a runner-up who will win £150. A third prize will be awarded to the tale that’s most popular with audiences online.
  • Everybody that participates in the project will receive an exclusive £10 ticket offer  (valid on 2 tickets) to see A Tale of Two Cities on stage at their local theatre.

Get Involved


Write a 500-word short story with the theme of 'making change happen'.

Register to and add your submission


Deadline: 6pm, 19 November 2016


1. Entry to this project is free and open to persons of all ages who reside in the UK.

2. Your story must be your own original work and must be unpublished at the time of entry. We accept no responsibility should entrants ignore these Terms & Conditions. Short stories should be fictional and must be no longer than 500 words in length.

3. Submit your story by registering to theatecloud and uploading your work via the online form. Unfortunately, we are unable to accept submissions by other methods. All submissions will be published here on the project page.

4. Submissions will be judged on originality, characterisation and enjoyment, in addition to the relevance to the theme and a consideration of Charles Dickens’ beliefs.

5. Entrants retain all rights to their entries but by submitting a story to the project, grant and acknowledge our right to publish the story as required in promoting the project and in the fulfillment of prizes.

6. Due to the large number of entrants, we are unable to respond individually to all submissions

7. Entry opens on Monday 8 August 2016 and closes on Saturday 19 Nov 2016 at 6PM. Submissions received after this deadline will not be accepted.


For more information or help, please email [email protected]

View submissions


Submissions are currently closed


Before Dawn
By Nat Statton

Her dreams were filled with blood and girls screaming. She woke, staring into the darkness. It had never disturbed her before. She had been proud, when she was growing up, to be born to take on such an…

The Mysterious Silencer
By phebby muwowo

Once again Chibuyu was on the familiar path that connected his village to Shimunenga’s . He shouted as loudly as his voice and strength could allow him; making a full circle of the repertoire of…

Making change happen
By phebby muwowo

Once again Chibuyu was on the familiar path that connected his village to Shimunenga’s . He shouted as loudly as his voice and strength could allow him; making a full circle of the repertoire of…

The Strangest Evening
By Scott Fitzgerald

Tonight I’m standing outside having a fag before I wander off to bed. The air is fresh, but not cold. There's a scent of perfume from the blossoming trees in my garden and those that line the…

A Price of War
By Toby Lowther

General Drust Brand stood in the gently drizzling rain, water running in streams down his black coat, finger hovering over the doorbell. He hesitated a moment, glancing to the side where his sergeant…

A writer's story of the East End
By Georgia Prince

The story of a writer, can be summarised by his lust for responsibility and change. This writer lives on a street. This street is in the East End. There is no need to say in the East End of what. The…

I won't say I told you so
By Charlotte Green

I went to school the next day almost knowing what was going to happen. If it was anything like yesterday, I was going to hate it. I arrived at school and both Lucy and Katy walked up to me with massive…

By Nikki Hewitson

Everything is dark. I can hear a little - the rushing in the distance lulls me to sleep - but the sounds are dampened and muffled, because I am trapped: Buried alive. You might think I would yearn for…

If Not Now, When?
By Chris McLoughlin

If not now, when? Diary Property of: Herbert K. Phillips Age: Seventy 24th May Been forgetting medicine. Doctor Phelps (young brat) said keep diary for four weeks. Include diet. Pointless. Memory fine.…

Heroes Get Killed
By rachel hurst

Gabe, I had no police record, there was nothing on me at all, I was clear; it would have been the end of your life. It seemed clear to me at the time. Take the wrap for it all and walk out with a slightly…

All of Us
By Ross Hajowyj

“You can't think it will be different when she's in charge, can you?” The woman sitting by the window scoffed, tracing the rusty, old bars with her fingers. “What's our other…

The Coming Winter
By Karen Pearson

The autumn projections are worse than I estimated. Worse than last year, worse than the year before. Worse, if such a thing could be thought possible, than the two years after the election, when the city…

Second Chance
By Caitlin Kirby-Ashmore

Why when the world is at it bleakest do the fractions of the human race bind to spout unrelenting positive nonsense? Murmurs of silver linings and an essence of optimism plague my life more than the thoughts…

By Robert Grossmith

The new energy field finally came onstream today. I took the kids down to have a look, seeing as how it's such an historic occasion. 'This is the future, guys,' I told them. 'Better get…

By Robert Grossmith

Waiting in line for the inhibitor pills designed to curb offensive language – originally developed for use with Tourette's sufferers – Winnie speaks into his phone. 'Yeah, still at…

The Last Speech of Herman Brown
By Will Hodgetts

His followers crowded around, and his friends wrestled closer. The room seemed to wax and wane in rhythm with hollow breaths, and it was becoming harder to tell where the groans of the dying ended and…

Inside out
By Martin Richmond

An overpowering stench of stale urine assaulted young Jack Pringle’s senses demanding vomit and he gagged. His first day as a prison warder was punishing and the walls were closing in. He quickly…

By Vaila Whittaker

“Great work you did today!” exclaimed his boss happily as he patted him on the back, “Now go home and relax! Tomorrow we have a new project and I think you will be just the right person”…

La Tricoteuse
By Samantha Pope

I knitted a noose for your pretty little neck. I’m not normally a violent person but, six months ago, you murdered my husband with your silver BMW. You snapped his spine and splayed his body across…

Creative chaos
By Richard Moriarty

The creators were having a good day, they; since ‘the creator’ exists in a multitude of parallel dimensions and therefore were one and many at the same time; were having fun. Well, I say they…