The Locksmith of London

© AmalgaMedia 2014-2017

The Writer, Eileen Warren Norris, was born in a remote Essex village and attended the Southend-on-Sea High School for Girls winning a scholarship, whilst she was still at school, to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She was the only child of working class parents. In the show-biz world of RADA she was a fish out of water.

Her outstanding reviews as a director led to an opportunity to join the inaugural Chichester Festival Theatre in 1962 under the direction of Sir Laurence Olivier as an unpaid ASM. She was transferred to management. She returned to Chichester as Promotion Manager in 1964, the National Theatre Season. She went on to become Assistant Artistic Director of Stratford East. She was later awarded an Arts Council Bursary as a Trainee Director.

At the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool, her task was to adapt from the Wakefield Cycle of Miracle Plays. In the 2nd Shepherds Play, she unearthed a pantomime and set it beside the Nativity. It was transferred to Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral and was televised by ABC TV on Christmas day. It was then 1968. Few women could break in as directors.

With thoughts of writing for TV, and feeling the need to learn the process, she approached the BBC and was put in a Budget Office, told she was too old, (being over 30) to work on the studio floor. By then the ILEA had set up studios, employing BBC cameramen.

A professional stage manager was needed for a series in black and white using Equity Actors. As part of a small team, she saw the scripts through from their inception to the day of the VCR, and was involved in location filming. This came to an end in 1973. By 1975 she had a London B.Ed (Hons.) in English and Drama and was employed by the ILEA in charge of Drama at an all girls comprehensive school in Wandsworth.


Retiring early, she came to work in Portsmouth, joining the Birthplace Branch of the Dickens Fellowship and founding Alchemy Theatre as well as teaching privately. She enjoys working with people of all ages and remains energetic and enthusiastic.


1968 - LIVERPOOL EVERYMAN THEATRE. THE WAKEFIELD CHRISTMAS MYSTERIES (Adapted from Old English in modern Yorkshire dialect) - Doreen Tanner- Liverpool Echo:- "they have solved the problem by using two styles"..."the trace of pantomime"...."simply telling the story"..." riotous knockabout"..."proper reverence for the religious part"..." As much good theatre as possible is extracted from these really very difficult plays".

1976 - CHAINS OF FREEDOM - Former child inmates from English workhouses (now indentured) & young black girls celebrate in the West Indies in 1828. Devised and scripted with music for 300 girls but not reviewed.

DOLL'S  DAY - A story of women in Wandsworth.

Stage Sixty, Stratford East.

1986 - Original Musical - TOBIAS AND THE ANGEL


Written earlier, performed in 1996. for International Dickens Conference in Portsmouth

1996 - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP by Dickens - "Unconventional and innovative"..." A splendidly theatrical experience"..."the spirit of Dickens, gaiety, humour and terror"..."Eileen Norris's adaptation  evokes the magical variety"..."a dramatically effective immediacy, suitable for a modern stage" - Paul Schlicke (Author of Dickens and Entertainment).

1998 - BOOKWORMS (adapted from Arnold Bennett's RICEYMAN STEPS & performed at the Theatre Royal, Portsmouth) - from THE STAGE October '98 "much to enjoy and laugh at in this marvellous production", the first adaptation since the 1920's, this clever adaptation of two romances, a balanced mix of comedy and realism.

2002 - For the Dickens International Conference at the Bloomsbury Theatre WC1 - DICKENS' MONOLOGUE, MRS LIRRIPER - adapted for a small company

2012 - BARNABY RUDGE - For the Bicentenary of Dickens' Birth, the International Conference in Portsmouth, the Kings Theatre, (as a community play) - "long awaited and highly successful"..."there was much to enjoy"..."the contemporary significance of its message"..."rich and rewarding"..."an energetic and fast-paced production"  - Reviewer in The Dickensian Magazine.

''My warmest congratulations on a great triumph" - Michael Slater, Emeritus Professor, Birkbeck College, University of London.