Bara Norden is a writer of plays, many of which tend towards the comic and fantastical. Her first commissioned play, The Milkman, was a take on the theme of nurturing. She went on to write a play for children, Meteorite (Hampstead Theatre, 2003, published by Oberon). Her play for Radio 4, Souvenirs, explored the interaction of two cultures through the recordings of a woman on a mission to create a family. She was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship during which she worked on a historical epic, Babylon (The Rosemary Branch, 2013), set at the time of the English Civil War. She has written short pieces for galleries and outdoor settings and collaborated with The Factory theatre company on a number of projects.
As Barbara Norden she has taught playwriting and set up the playwriting and screenwriting MA at City, University of London where she was a senior lecturer. Former students have gone on to enjoy successful careers in the drama industries and to do PhDs. Her own PhD looked into dramatic structure in the context of twentieth-century European and American playwriting. The research included writing formally experimental plays and spending time on exchange at New York University. She has also published poetry and was shortlisted for the Arvon International Poetry competition in 1998.
Before she started playwriting, Barbara Norden was a journalist writing on arts and social issues. She has taught journalistic writing. During lockdown she has been working on prose fiction.