Barney Norris’ latest play, spread over three decades and moving between five geographical locations, is his most autobiographical to date. It began a few years ago with him laying on his back on the floor in his flat trying to remember every story his grandparents had ever told him. Norris’ grandparents have appeared in disguise as characters in his previous exquisite exhumations of rural lives, but this will be the first time that they and other family members will all became characters in a drama inspired by the lives, loves and losses of the Norris family. Norris is such a great, unflashy writer, his plays are stuffed with quiet truths, and I’d highly recommend that you take a peep. This may yet be the most revealing of the roots of Norris’ identity as a storyteller, and it also marks Norris's return to the theatre that first brought him to attention with Visitors.
We Started To Sing is a love song to the people who raised him, and a hymn to the bravery of our brief lives. “I wish there could be a day where families came together and just said it all to each other. Because then everyone would know it all, and there’d be nothing left to hurt anyone.” Sussex. London. Wiltshire. Northamptonshire. Wales. Over three decades, a family spreads across the country, and the chord they once made together starts to fray. How will the distance growing between them change the music of their lives? Barney Norris’ previous work at Arcola: Eventide (2015) and Visitors (2014), which won the Critics’ Circle Award and the Off West End Award for Most Promising Playwright. His other plays include Nightfall (Bridge Theatre); While We’re Here (Bush Theatre); Echo’s End (Salisbury Playhouse); and acclaimed adaptations of Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day and Federico García Lorca’s Blood Wedding. His novels include Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain, Turning for Home, and The Vanishing Hours.