by Barney Norris
In a farmhouse at the edge of Salisbury Plain, a family is falling apart. Stephen can’t afford to put his mother into care; Arthur can’t afford to stop working and look after his wife. When a young stranger with blue hair moves in to care for Edie as her mind unravels, the family are forced to ask: are we living the way we wanted? Visitors is a sharply funny love story that takes a haunting, beautiful look at the way our lives slip past us.
Having spent three years presenting short plays, the next step for Up In Arms was to tell a full-length story. Barney had started writing ‘Visitors’ eight years previously, but had no success in finding a theatre to do it: the script had been rejected by every London new writing theatre and every producing theatre in the south west. The Arcola and eight regional theatres agreed to programme our production due to the success of ‘Fear Of Music’, and we raised funds from Frank and Elizabeth Brenan, the Arts Council, and numerous part time jobs. In the end, the core Up In Arms team put up about a third of the money for this production themselves – the first rule of producing is never to put your own money into a show, but sometimes the alternative is not doing a show at all, and we like to think we proved that if you believe in something, and you work hard enough, even the best rules are sometimes worth breaking. We first began to suspect we might have a special project on our hands when Linda Bassett, who had been consistently the best actor on the London stage through the years we had been working, agreed to take on the role of Edie, but we still didn’t expect the response we got. ‘Visitors’ received some of the most ecstatic reviews of the year, and filled theatres across the country. Our lives were all changed, as we suddenly found the risks we had taken and the nights we had worked had been rewarded with a platform from which we would be able to make more shows. In the end, ‘Visitors’ ran for over 100 performances, a huge amount for a fringe show funded by bar work. It will always be one of the best experiences of our lives, the most unexpected opportunity to show the world what we could do, and find that the world liked it.
Winner of the Critics Circle and Offwestend Awards for Most Promising Playwright for Barney Norris and the Offwestend Award for Best Actress for Linda Bassett, nominated for the Writers Guild Award for Best Play, the Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright for Barney Norris at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards, and for Best New Play, Best Director for Alice Hamilton, and Best Actor for Robin Soans at the Offwestend Awards 2014.
Following its phenomenal success on tour and at Arcola Theatre in spring 2014, Visitors transferred to the Bush Theatre for Christmas, and ran from 26th November 2014 to 10th January 2015.
‘Heartbreaking’ The New York Times
★★★★★ The Times, The Evening Standard, The Stage, Whatsonstage, Time Out, Exeunt
★★★★ The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Financial Times, The Sunday Times, the Daily Mail, The Arts Desk.
Writer | Barney Norris
Director | Alice Hamilton
Designer | Francesca Reidy
Lighting Designer | Simon Gethin Thomas
Composer and Sound Designer | Frank Moon / George Dennis
Production Manager | Jasmine Sandalli
Stage Manager | Charlie Young
Deputy Stage Manager | Josephine Rossen
Assistant Stage Manager | Rebecca Denby
Costume Supervisor | Anouska Lester
Assistant Director | Ally Watson
Visitors toured to Cheltenham Everyman, Theatre Royal Bath, Guildford Yvonne Arnaud, York Theatre Royal, Arcola Theatre, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, The North Wall Oxford, Ipswich High School and Salisbury Playhouse in spring 2014, with support from Frank and Elizabeth Brenan and Arts Council England.
The production transferred to the Bush Theatre following a short rural tour to Lymington, Upavon, and Corsham.