The Poets are Coming: Ben Norris

What do people need to know about you?

It sort of accidentally became a state-of-the-nation piece while I was writing it

Ben Norris is an actor, writer, and spoken-word artist. UK Poetry Slam Champion, IdeasTap Underbelly Award Winner, and chair of the whatever’s-left-in-the-fridge salad committee. He’s written commissions for IdeasTap and the Southbank Centre, performed at the Proms, Latitude, Roundhouse and on BBC Radio 3, acted with the National Theatre, Frantic Assembly, and National Theatre Wales, and danced naked round his kitchen more times than he’d care to admit.

What are you up to this Fringe?

I’m performing my debut one-man show, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family, which is about me and my dad, and my attempts to get closer to him by hitchhiking to all the places he lived while he was growing up, starting at my childhood home in Nottingham and finishing in Brixton, stopping off at numerous forgotten home-counties market towns along the way, with brief sojourns at Luton Town Football Club, Wembley, and Watford Gap Services. In this respect, it sort of accidentally became a state-of-the-nation piece while I was writing it, as well as a very personal exploration of family, love, and masculinity.

It’s a theatre piece, primarily, and uses a lot of projection throughout; mostly of footage from the hitchhike itself, which I completed last summer. But it’s also a spoken-word show. It might be a monologue, an irreverent travel diary, or an hour-long poem. That doesn’t matter; it’s not about what people take away from it generically, it’s about what it says to them about their life, through what it says about mine and my dad’s.

What else are you going to see?

Good god, where do I start?! Well, I’ll see Jack Rooke’s show, if only to beat myself up over which elements of the dad-narrative he’s done better than me. Rob Auton is always great. Also, I love Antler’s work, a previous winner of the IdeasTap Underbelly Award whose 2013 show Where the White Stops was a real highlight. But honestly, there are hundreds of shows I want to see! Ask me again mid-August and I’ll have a hundred more.

What is your favourite word?

It changes depending on my mood. Previously, ‘soiree’ was right up there. I’m using the adverb ‘flacidly’ alarmingly often at the moment. I’ve no idea what that says, I don’t want to think about it.

Hold on! ‘Toxophilite’, I love that word! It means a lover of archery. Yeah, put that in, that’s much better.


Photo: Paul McHale