Tell A Tale — The Winners

Tell A Tale — The Winners

17 December 2016

Here are the winning tales of the Tell A Tale creative writing project!

Tales about revenge, protest, war and refuge are awarded as winners of the Tell A Tale project.

In August, we launched our latest project, asking people across the UK to write a short story in 500 words. The theme was ‘making change happen’ and writers were encouraged to think about some of the other themes within A Tale of Two Cities in celebration of the work of Charles Dickens and to mark the autumn 2016 theatre tour of Mike Poulton’s adaptation.

Each week four stories were chosen before two were judged and read to camera by a member of the cast of A Tale of Two Cities. By the end of the tour and the project, 14 stories were shortlisted. There were almost 300 submissions in total and we are delighted to announce the winners.

Top Tale Award  La Tricoteuse by Samantha Pope


Sam started writing when she was younger and says she was always losing herself in stories — whether writing or reading them. "For some reason, I lost confidence in my writing as I got older but, shortly after having my daughter, I started taking creative writing courses with the Open University and haven't stopped writing since! This is the first time that I've won anything though and I am so glad that it was with your company and in a competition linked to Charles Dickens, who I've always admired. He didn't just write to entertain (though what a storyteller he was!); he used his talent to highlight everyday injustices and to be a voice for those less fortunate and disempowered. Sadly some of the issues he wrote about are still relevant and worrying nowadays and for that reason, I think he has a lot to say to modern readers and audiences. 

I was originally one of the 12 for the Oxford ensemble but had to withdraw because my stepfather was very ill and died just after the last performance of A Tale of Two Cities in Oxford (unfortunately I couldn't make it to the performances either for that reason). Therefore, I want to dedicate this win to him because he was such an important person in my life and I wrote it at a very dark time. It means even more to me that I could somehow be part of this production.

The motivation for this story came from a casual comment from my mother who suggested that I write a comedy about someone knitting, as Madame Defarge does. I couldn't quite get the comedy element into my head so I decided to make it a tale of revenge in the footsteps of Dickens's character! I liked the idea of her knitting a noose (a woollen guillotine wouldn't work!) to kill someone with - someone who'd hurt her very badly and who had escaped justice. My friends and family are quite worried about how violently the story ends and think I now have a very dark side to my character - it probably comes from reading works by M.R. James and Edgar Allen Poe. Still, it never hurts to have people be a little careful of you!"


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Runner-Up — It’s Tonight by Deborah Barrett

My interest in writing began when I was a child. Initially, I made up stories to tell my younger sister at bedtime, then later on, I concentrated on writing poetry (full of teenage angst!). Recently I have attended a number of Adult Education creative writing courses and am now a member of writing group Just One Sentence.

Unfortunately, I missed the production of A Tale of Two Cities when it was at Richmond. Dickens captures the reader's interest immediately with his iconic opening lines to this novel, not only in his choice of words but in the rhythm and cadence. It is inspirational.  
Before I began writing "It's Tonight" I considered what Dickens as an author and social commentator would be writing about today, and as he often chose children to highlight inequality and injustice, I decided to focus on the plight of Ahmed and his family in Aleppo.

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Most Popular (Shortlist Category) — A Peaceful Protest by Connor Wray 


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Most Popular (General Category) — A Tale of Two Cities by Charlotte McCallum

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Watch the full shortlist 

Read all submissions to this project 


A Tale of Two Cities opens at Royal & Derngate, Northampton, where it plays from 10 to 17 September 2016. It then tours to Oxford Playhouse, Richmond Theatre, Bradford Alhambra, Blackpool Grand, Wolverhampton Grand, Brighton Theatre Royal, Edinburgh King's, Cheltenham Everyman and Nottingham Theatre Royal. 

Get tickets for this show by visiting our tour page.