Arcola Theatre reopens its doors with Barney Norris world première - Arcola Theatre

Arcola Theatre reopens its doors with Barney Norris world première

Following the successful Arcola Outside season last summer in their new purpose-built performance space, Arcola Theatre throws open the doors to their theatre for the first time since March 2020, reopening with the world première of Barney Norris’ new play We Started To Sing. The production sees Norris continue his collaboration with the venue, where Visitors – his multi-award-winning first play – and Eventide were previously staged. We Started to Sing, also directed by Norris, opens on 23 May, with previews from 19 May, and runs until 18 June, and is the first in a new season of work, with full details to be announced.

Later in the reopening season, will see the return of a body of work in Arcola Outside and Grimeborn from 1 August to 4 September featuring seven productions in Studio 1, alongside additional further plans for outside programming.

Artistic Director of Arcola Theatre, Mehmet Ergen, said today, “We are delighted to reopen our much-loved indoor space this Spring with We Started to Sing. We can’t wait to welcome audiences back to a place so many regard as home. Seven years after making his name at Arcola with Visitors and Eventide, Barney Norris’ autobiographical new play about family and memory, seems like the perfect way to bring our audiences back to celebrate our past and imagine our future together.”

Barney Norris added, “This is a play about family and home, and I am fortunate to be able to make it with the Arcola, who have made me feel part of the family ever since they let me stage my first play, Visitors, there. It was at the Arcola that I first started trying to write plays out of love, in order to connect audiences with what they love in their own lives; We Started To Sing is an attempt to come home to that idea, and welcome audiences back from the isolation of the last few years. I am happy to be home.”




Written and Directed by BARNEY NORRIS

19 May – 18 June 2022

Press night: 23 May at 7pm

“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 returns to the Arcola with a brand-new play – We Started To Sing is a love song to the people who raised him, and a hymn to the bravery of our brief lives.

Barney Norris’ previous work at Arcola is Eventide (2015) and Visitors (2014) – the latter 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.


Arcola Theatre

24 Ashwin Street, London, E8 3DL

19 May – 18 June 2022

Press night: Monday 23 May at 7pm

Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm

Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 3pm

Relaxed performances: Wednesday 8 June 2022 at 3pm and 7.30pm

Touch tour available before Wednesday 25 May 2022 at 7.30pm performance

Box Office: 020 7503 1646

Tickets from £12 – £30

ARCOLA THEATRE was founded by Mehmet Ergen and Leyla Nazli in September 2000. Originally located in a former textile factory on Arcola Street in Dalston, in January 2011 the theatre moved to its current location in a former paint-manufacturing workshop on Ashwin Street. In 2021, we opened an additional outdoor performance space just round the corner from the main building: Arcola Outside.

Arcola Theatre produces daring, high-quality theatre in the heart of East London and beyond. We commission and premiere exciting, original works alongside rare gems of world drama and bold new productions of classics. Our socially-engaged, international programme champions diversity, challenges the status quo, and attracts over 65,000 people to our building each year. Ticket prices are some of the most affordable in London. Every year, we offer 26 weeks of free rehearsal space to culturally diverse and refugee artists; our Grimeborn Festival opens up opera with contemporary stagings at affordable prices; and our Participation department creates over 13,500 creative opportunities for the people of Hackney and beyond. Our pioneering environmental initiatives are award-winning, and aim to make Arcola the world’s first carbon-neutral theatre. Arcola has won awards including the UK Theatre Award for Promotion of Diversity, The Stage Award for Sustainability and the Peter Brook Empty Space Award.

Twitter, Instagram and Facebook: @arcolatheatre

For further information please contact: Kate Morley – 07970 465 648 /

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