Everyone’s dad exists as a kind of statue, frozen in a certain pose. Mine is wearing his cream and black mac, standing in the rain watching football or cross country…it doesn’t matter which: it was cold, and he was there.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family is the debut one-man show from writer-performer and UK All-Star Poetry Slam champion Ben Norris. In turn hilarious and moving, the show is a poetic, multimedia, ramshackle road trip in which Ben battles Britain’s most notorious service stations and the perils of lower-league football in search of the man behind his father, exploring the relative merits of Travelodge while asking searching questions of identity and contemporary masculinity.
The show won the IdeasTap Underbelly Award and an early version played at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe before being substantially reworked for a 2016 UK tour. It received its London premiere at Southbank Centre in November 2016 as part of Being A Man Festival.
“This is a great show from a truly talented performer with genuine presence and charisma to burn.”
“A modern pilgrimage… A complex, emotional ride.”
“This isn’t a fairytale with a perfectly tied-up ending. This is real life, with all the shitty bits left in. And that’s what makes it so watchable: it is relatable, sincere and true. This is an uplifting way to spend an hour for anyone who has ever doubted who they are (everyone).”
“Incredibly powerful… Full of rich metaphors and linguistic gems.”
A YOUNGER THEATRE
“Warm, funny and tender.”
“Perfectly polished and performed… Norris’s performance is filled with emotion: hilarious, poignant.”
ED FEST MAG
Actor, writer, spoken-word artist, and UK all-stars poetry slam champion. He is a regular on the spoken-word and festival circuit, with recent performances at the BBC Proms, Roundhouse, Royal Festival Hall, Latitude, and Ronnie Scott’s. He has been commissioned by the Southbank Centre, IdeasTap, and Ditch the Label among many others, and had his work broadcast across BBC radio. His first pamphlet of poetry was published in 2014 by Nasty Little Press, and his plays have been staged at Leicester Curve, Theatre 503 and University of Birmingham. His debut short film was produced in 2016 by Channel 4, for which Ben was nominated for a Royal Television Society award. Acting credits include work with the National Theatre, National Theatre Wales, Birmingham Rep, RSC, Nottingham Playhouse, and Frantic Assembly. Ben is from Nottingham and trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Polly is a theatre-maker and storyteller and the founder of folk theatre company, Rambling Heart. Recent directing credits include: Charlotte Sometimes (Oxford Playhouse), Icarus Reforged (Birmingham Rep Foundry), Biting Tongues (Capital Plays Festival), Lit Fuse (mac birmingham / Apples & Snakes) and Hidden Histories (Birmingham Rep). Assistant directing credits include: Dear Father Christmas (Oxford Playhouse) and Never Try This At Home (Told by an Idiot / Birmingham Rep). Polly was one of six directors selected for Birmingham Rep’s Foundry Programme 2013. She was Resident Director at Oxford Playhouse and Magdalen College School 2014-15 and was named Young Storyteller of the Year in 2011. She performs stories nationally and internationally and, in 2013, was nominated for a British Award for Storytelling Excellence.
Freelance camera operator and editor, filming and producing animations, promotional films, narrative and art exhibition projects.
MA Lighting Design at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama. Lighting Design credits include: Animal (Royal Court/Richard Burton Theatre Company, Gate Theatre); The Endless Ocean (National Theatre Wales/Richard Burton Theatre Company, Gate Theatre); I Feel Fine (Fat Git Theatre Company, New Diorama Theatre). Relight credits include: Symphony (nabokov/Soho Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe & UK Tour); Blink (nabokov/Soho Theatre, UK Tour & Brits off Broadway); Wasted (Paines Plough, UK Tour); Miss Julie (UK Touring Productions, UK Tour).
MA Composition at Bristol University and Associate Artist with Bucket Club and Tap Tap Theatre, David’s sound design and composition has seen him win multiple awards at the Edinburgh Fringe and beyond. Recent credits include: Fossils, Lorraine & Alan (Bucket Club) and Captain Morgan 1 & 2 (Tap Tap Theatre).
Multi-award winning writer and actor and co-Artistic director of DryWrite. Her debut play Fleabag won a clutch of awards and a 2014 Olivier Award Nomination. Theatre credits include: Fleabag (Stage Award for Best Solo Performance, Off West End Award for Best Female), The One (Soho Theatre) Mydidae (Trafalgar Studios), Hay Fever (West End), Tribes (Royal Court), Rope (Almeida), 2nd May 1997 (Evening Standard Nomination, Best Newcomer), Like a Fishbone and 66 Books (Bush Theatre), Roaring Trade (Soho Theatre). TV: Broadchurch, Bad Education, Henry, London Irish, The Cafe, The Night Watch. Film: Man Up, The Iron Lady, Albert Nobbs. Phoebe recently wrote Crashing, an original comedy series for E4.
Internationally recognised poet, playwright and performance artist.
Independent creative producer. Currently projects include The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family (Underbelly – Cowgate, 6-30 August) and Feast (Peckham Pelican, 27 September). Has worked with mac Birmingham, St. James Theatre, Hat Trick Productions, Apples and Snakes and the King’s Head Theatre. Associate producer at Crowley & Co.
Independent creative producer. Former Performing Arts Producer at mac birmingham, now at the Royal Shakespeare Company, she has worked with artists including Polarbear, Nick Makoha, A Little Commitment and Sid Peacock on solo shows.
THE SCENIC ROUTE:
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family is about my dad and me, and the laughably little we have in common. We are such different men, and the nature of our relationship (or lack thereof) has always fascinated me. So just over three years ago, on a train back to Birmingham from a gig in London, I started writing about it. I wrote about the few things we do have in common, and the handful of times (at that point, specifically the two times) I’d felt really connected to him. One of those two times was when I watched the 1988 Littlewoods Cup final on YouTube, in my first year at University.
My dad is a Luton Town fan, and this match (a 3-2 victory over Arsenal, featuring an other-worldly penalty save from Andy Dibble) is legendary in our family, or in his mind at least. So it’s become somewhat legendary for me. He wasn’t there when I watched the video, I was on my own in my room in my halls of residence, but I felt like we had shared an experience across time and space. Here is that fabled save:
He was born in London, moved to Welwyn Garden City, moved to Breachwood Green, moved to Langford, then moved to Nottingham. Always North, and always loosely in line with the M1. Which got me thinking. I decided to start in Nottingham, where I was born and grew up, and where he still lives, and hitchhike south down the M1, stopping off at every place he ever lived, every pub his parents ran, and speaking to everyone he ever knew (perhaps a bit ambitious!) until I got to the Wembley. A pilgrimage, if you will, based on football and shared experience, and soundtracked by Gerry Rafferty. Figuring out why my dad is so damn useless at communicating. It didn’t go entirely to plan…
As the show developed, it became as much an interrogation of myself as it is of my dad, and grew ultimately into an exploration of the extraordinary lengths men go to to avoid talking about their feelings.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family was supported by Arts Council England, IdeasTap, Underbelly, mac birmingham, and Apples & Snakes. We also gratefully acknowledge Luton Town Football Club, Fourth Monkey Theatre Company, and all our Kickstarter backers.