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Norwich - A Love Story

All You Need is Norwich: A Love Story

We sat down with John Osborne to chat about the creative process in writing Norwich: A Love Story, a theatre show about our fine city.


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At Norwich Theatre, we love our fine city, which is full of charm, amazing people, and stories. We are not the only ones. John Osborne, writer and theatre maker right here in this fine city, loves it too. In fact, he loves it so much that he has written a love story called Norwich: A Love Story which is heading to Norwich Theatre Playhouse at 11 Apr. We sat down with John to find out why he loves Norwich so much, his creative process and the amazing arts scene right on our doorstep. 

Can you tell me a bit about yourself? 

I’m John Osborne, a writer and theatre maker in Norwich. I wrote a show called John Peel’s Shed a few years ago, about a box of records I won in a competition on John Peel’s Radio 1 show and a few years ago my friend Molly and I wrote a sitcom – After Hours – that was broadcast on Sky Comedy. 

Tell me a bit about the show. What can people expect? 

The first half is full of poems and stories about Norwich. We learn about what Norwich was like one hundred years ago – on 11 Apr 1924. There’s a love story to North Norwich tip and a poem about the framed Where’s Wally pictures in the gents at the Brewery Tap. There’s a special performance by Norwich singer-songwriter Jess Morgan, which I’m really excited about too. The main part of the show is in the second half, and there is one big story called Norwich: A Love Story. 

Norwich - A Love Story

Describe the show in three words. 

A love story.

What inspired you to make the piece? 

I realised that almost everything I’ve written has Norwich at its centre, whether it’s from my time in temp jobs working at Anglia Windows and Norwich Union or poems and stories I have accumulated from living here for so long. I have poems that mention Chapelfield Gardens, Mousehold Heath, The Ali Tandoori, and Olives café. It felt like a fun challenge to try and put a show together that collected all of those pieces together. 

 The show is a love story for Norwich. What do you love about living here? 

I’ve loved it here since I first arrived for a UEA Open Day when I was at Sixth Form, and I knew that this is where I wanted to move to. I love the cafes, the pubs, the sense of relaxation, the parks. I’ve had some really special times here and there are happy memories around the corners of the streets of the city.  

Did the show require a lot of research? 

I’ve spent a lot of time researching the history of Norwich. It’s not something I’d planned to do, but I loved learning about when there were so many swimming pools here, there were trams, and I loved learning about the pubs that aren’t there anymore. There are some brilliant YouTube videos, old articles and photographs where people talk so knowledgeably about how Norwich used to be. I realised that although I’ve lived here for twenty years I don’t know a huge amount about the city. That became a theme of the show, that to live somewhere you have to know its history.  

What is your process for creating a new piece? 

I love starting on a new project. As soon as I decided that I’d write a full show about Norwich I bought a new notebook and started to fill it with ideas, stories, characters, lists. I made a Norwich playlist on Spotify, full of Norwich bands I like. I started a Norwich: A Love Story folder on my computer and added any photographs and links to articles that I thought might be useful. Then I sat down one night and wrote as much of the story as I could, not leaving my desk until 2 or 3 am. That’s how every story, script and theatre show I’ve ever made has evolved – lots of low-level notes and research and then it all bursts out in one productive night where you get as much as the story on the page as you can. It’s quite an exciting way to create work.  

Norwich has a big arts scene. Has anyone inspired you locally? 

Norwich is full of people who make incredible things. Pasco at Norwich Arts Centre is someone who has been incredibly important to the Norwich arts scene in the last ten years. The amount of good music, comedy and slightly alternative storytelling and theatre that he has programmed there has allowed a huge variety of shows. I’ve really benefited from that as both a theatre maker and as an audience member as someone who loves to go and watch shows. The best band from Norwich is Bearsuit. I love them. There is definitely going to be some Bearsuit in my show.  

Norwich: A Love Story is at Norwich Theatre Playhouse on 11 Apr. For more information or to book, visit or call the Box Office on 01603 630 000. 

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Norwich - A Love Story

Norwich - A Love Story