literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature

Akala: The Dark Lady

Be transported to Elizabethan London by the brilliant, and at times brutal, debut young adult novel from the amazing imagination of the rapper and author.

Join Akala to celebrate the release of The Dark Lady at an event featuring a performance inspired by Shakespeare’s sonnets from The Hip-hop Shakespeare Company.

A pickpocket with an exceptional gift.
A prisoner of extraordinary value.
An orphan haunted by dreams of the mysterious Dark Lady.

Henry is an orphan, an outsider, a thief. He is also a fifteen-year-old invested with magical powers ...

This novel hurls you into a time when London stank and boys like Henry were forced to find their own route through the tangled streets and out the other side.

The Dark Lady plunges the reader into the violent, visceral streets of Elizabethan London, deftly weaving history and magic with contemporary ideas around class and identity.

In The Dark Lady, Akala, a natural storyteller with a vision all his own, enthuses and entertains teenagers and young adults, showing that reading is a true superpower.

BAFTA and MOBO award-winning hip-hop artist, writer and social entrepreneur Akala has led youth arts, education and music projects globally, and co-founded The Hip-hop Shakespeare Company in 2009.

The music theatre production company explores the social, cultural and linguistic parallels between Shakespeare's works and the work of modern-day rappers.

Akala has gained a reputation as a dynamic and articulate talent, notably with his Sunday Times bestseller Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire, released in 2018.

Dates & times

19 Apr 2020
Approximate run time: 90 mins
Run times may vary, find out more
    • Sun 19 April 2020
      • 7:45 pm
        British Sign Language / Speech to Text


Royal Festival Hall


£15 - £20
Booking fee: £3.50 (Members £0.00)
£15, £20


25% off (limited availability)
Find out more about our Concessions policy

need to know

Age recommendation
For ages 12+

Copies of Akala’s new book The Dark Lady (RRP £12.99) are available for £10.99 when you buy a ticket to the talk. These may be collected at the event.

This offer only applies to copies of the book pre-purchased with a ticket and is not available at the event itself.

Southbank Centre takes a strong view on secondary ticketing. We require the lead booker to attend (photo ID may be requested). Tickets can only be resold by Southbank Centre or one of its authorised agents.

Access information
This event is Speech-to-Text transcribed (STT) and British Sign Language interpreted (BSL).

To join our free Access Scheme and book tickets for these services, call our Ticket Office on 020 3879 9555 or email
Find out more about our Access Scheme