Tate Modern Talk

Simon Callow reads Dante's Inferno

Photo © Ivon Bartholomew

Photo © Ivon Bartholomew

Experience this poetry classic as read by one of the UK’s most loved actors

On the occasion of the exhibition Robert Rauschenberg, celebrated actor and writer Simon Callow gives a public reading of excerpts from Inferno, the first part of Dante Alighieri’s 14th century epic poem The Divine Comedy.

In 1958 Rauschenberg embarked on an ambitious project to produce one illustration for each of the thirty-four cantos or sections of Inferno. By applying lighter fluid to a magazine clipping and rubbing the back of it with an empty ballpoint pen he could transfer the image onto another sheet of paper – a technique he used in each work.

Widely considered one of the greatest works of literature, Inferno tells of Dante’s journey through the nine circles of Hell guided by the ancient Roman poet Virgil. He witnesses a terrifying catalogue of punishments, an education that exposes him to the consequences of turning away from God’s grace.

This unique event sees Simon Callow take to the stage to tell this dramatic story through selected readings alongside projections of Rauschenberg’s pioneering illustrations.


Simon Callow is an actor, author and director. He studied at Queen’s University, Belfast, and then trained as an actor at the Drama Centre in London. He joined the National Theatre in 1979, where he created the role of Mozart in Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus. His many one-man shows include Tuesdays at Tesco’s, The Mystery of Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol and, most recently, The Man Jesus. He has appeared in many films including A Room with a View, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Shakespeare in Love, Phantom of the Opera. Forthcoming credits include Blue Iguana and Hampstead.​

Tate Modern

Starr Cinema

London SE1 9TG
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Date & Time

10 February 2017 at 18.30–20.00