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World premiere of Bryson’s ‘Notes from a Small Island’ booking now at The Watermill Theatre – matinee
25 February @ 2:30 pm
The Watermill, Newbury (Marlborough’s nearest theatre) will kick off its 2023 season with the brand-new stage adaption of Bill Bryson’s award-winning memoir ‘Notes from a Small Island’, affectionately celebrating the quirks and eccentricities of British life, adapted by BAFTA and Olivier Award winning playwright Tim Whitnall. This world premiere will play from Friday 3 February to Saturday 18 March. Tickets from £15 and get an extra £5 off when you book for performances between 3 – 9 February. Click here for tickets.
Directed by The Watermill’s Artistic Director Paul Hart, designed by Katie Lias, and produced in association with Simon Friend Entertainment, ‘Notes from a Small Island ‘ was originally due to open in September 2020, but was delayed due to the pandemic.
What makes us love this country we call our own? From Calais to Scotland, Bill travels the length and breadth of Britain. Why does the nation that produced Marmite, Gardener’s Question Time and people who say “Ooh lovely” at thesight of a cup of tea, hold such a special place in this American’s heart?
‘Notes from a Small Island’ spent three years in the Sunday Times bestsellers list, sold over two million copies and was voted on World Book Day by BBC Radio 4 listeners as the book that best represents our British identity.
With signature invention and imagination, the production will embrace the full breadth and playfulnessof Bryson’s life affirming travelogue in The Watermill’s fittingly intimate, quintessentially rural space.
Tim Whitnall said, “It’s been both a privilege and a delight to have distilled Bill Bryson’s hilarious and affecting 379-page travelogue into a two-act stage play. This wonderful book has been a firm favourite of mine since its publication, and I’m still pinching myself to believe I’ve been permitted anywhere near it as a playwright!”
‘Notes from A Small Island’ contains a wealth of wry observations and pithy insights – albeit recorded almost 30 years ago – that will resonate with a contemporary audience, particularly as Britons reassess their national identity in a post-Brexit, politically turbulent, and technology-driven world. Back in 1995, Bill set off on his eventful road-trip to discover “for better and for worse” what might have changed and what had endured since his first visit to these shores in 1973. The stage version evokes a similar journey of discovery, allowing audiences to connect with their own past, take stock of the present, and consider what the future might bring for the UK and its place in the Global Village.
As we heal and rebuild following the ravages of the past three years, the play also gently reminds us that being British allows us plenty to be grateful for. To quote Bill: “You have plenty to eat, you live in a time of peace, and you can rest easy in the knowledge that “Tie A Yellow Ribbon” will never be Number One again
In the wake of the shock news that The Watermill Theatre had 100% of its annual funding from Arts Council England cut, the Newbury venue has launched a new fundraising campaign – THRIVE. Individuals can donate from as little £1 to show their support and ensure that the work of The Watermill, and everyone who is part of its community, can continue to thrive. There is also the option of becoming a Friend of the Watermill, from as little as £30 per year.