We are delighted to produce the World Premiere of The Wellspring as part of our Made in Northampton 2021/22 season. A deeply autobiographical work from award-winning playwright Barney Norris (The Remains of the Day) and his father, internationally acclaimed pianist and broadcaster David Owen Norris, The Wellspring examines that age-old story of a boy and his dad, and how they can relate to one another, in every sense of the word. An intimate performance by the father and son, centre stage on Rosie Elnile’s spare design, The Wellspring is directed by Jude Christian, whose own biographical plays include Nanjing, selected as an international entry for Berlin’s Theatertreffen’s Stückemarkt in 2021. It runs here at Royal & Derngate from 17 to 26 March 2022, 29 to 30 March in Oxford, 26 to 28 May in Southampton, 30 May to 1 June in Guildford and then touring to literary festivals this summer.
A rich autobiographical exploration of their relationship, The Wellspring takes us inside the complex and shifting dynamic between this father and son, exploring the people and stories that shape us. Their performances will be accompanied by both folk and classical music performed by David and Barney, creating a scrapbook style collage of the pair’s lives together.
Barney Norris said: “The Wellspring is a play about fathers and sons, and a particular father and son who have spent time apart and want to hear each other’s stories. It’s also about how we end up in the lives we end up in, and the wild, precarious adventure of deciding to be an artist – something my Dad and I both did. We want to use the play to fill auditoria with music, and song, and joy, and happy memory; also with loss, with revelation, with the vulnerability of extreme honesty. We want it to feel, effectively, like being in a family.”
David Owen Norris said: “Music plays as many roles in The Wellspring as it does in all our lives. It triggers memories, shapes our journeys, paints our joy and grief, and brings us laughter, strength and consolation.”
The production is designed by Rosie Elnile, with lighting design from Jack Weir and video design from Megan Lucas. The associate designer is Tomas Palmer.
“A rare duet, in which father and son rediscover a whole world through the redeeming power of art.” Declan Kiberd (Ulysses and Us: the Art of Everyday Living) on the 2018 book The Wellspring: Conversations with David Owen Norris by Barney Norris.
Barney Norris is a playwright and novelist. His work has received awards from the International Theatre Institute, the Critics’ Circle, the Evening Standard, the Society of Authors and the South Bank Sky Arts Times Breakthrough Awards, among others, and been translated into eight languages. Barney Norris’s credits include: The Remains of the Day (Royal & Derngate/tour), Visitors (Up In Arms, Arcola, Bush and tour), Eventide (Up In Arms, Arcola and tour), Echo’s End (Salisbury Playhouse), While We’re Here (Up In Arms, Bush and tour), Nightfall (Bridge Theatre), Blood Wedding (Up In Arms and Wiltshire Creative). His novels include: Five Rivers Met On A Wooded Plain, Turning For Home, The Vanishing Hours.
David Owen Norris is an award-winning pianist, composer and broadcaster. His accomplishments include the Prize of the City of Geneva and the Accompanist’s Prize at Leeds; since his appointment to the Gilmore Artist Award, he has performed all across the world at the most prestigious venues for classical music. He has a discography of 60 commercial CDs including his own Piano Concerto with the BBC Concert Orchestra, and his oratorio Prayerbook. His other compositions include a Symphony, a Piano Sonata, the oratorio Turning Points, and the multimedia tribute to the passing seasons, HengeMusic. His extensive broadcasting career began with The Real Thing? in 1990, his work also includes Chord of the Week on BBC2 and Perfect Pianists on BBC4. His many radio presentations have included the Playlist series on BBC Radio 4, In Tune and The Works on BBC Radio 3, where he also recently made his 30th appearance on Building a Library.
Jude Christian‘s directing credits include: Living Newspaper (Royal Court), Peter Pan (Brageteatret, Norway), Dark Night of the Soul (Sam Wanamaker Playhouse), Dick Whittington, Jack and the Beanstalk and OthelloMacbeth (both Lyric Hammersmith), Trust (Gate Theatre) and My Mum’s A Twat (Royal Court). As a writer her work includes Nanjing (Shakespeare’s Globe and The Yard) and Dick Whittington (Lyric Hammersmith).
The Wellspring can be seen at Royal & Derngate, Northampton from Thursday 17 March to Saturday 26 March. Book your tickets here.
The Made in Northampton season is sponsored locally by Michael Jones Jewellers.