UK Tour starts next week!

Exactly 2 years ago to the day, I performed the very first R&D version of ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family’. It’s a show about me hitting the road in search of my dad. From next week, that show about me hitting the road in search of my dad is hitting the road. A great many number of roads, all over the country.

It kicks off with two nights in Oxford at Oxford Playhouse, then hits York, Cardiff, Ipswich, Maidenhead, Leicester, Nottingham, Farnham, Newcastle, Lincoln, Bristol and Bromsgrove, before finishing with 3 performances at the Southbank Centre in London in late November. As of this morning, tickets for all of the shows are now on sale.

Some dates are already sold out or almost sold out, so book tickets soon to avoid crushing disappointment, mild annoyance, or, at very best, a sense of completely unwarranted FOMO just because you always feel like you should be doing something, don’t you, when there’s so much you could do every day? If you do decide to ‘do’ my show, I like to think you’ll note it down in your book of things you did as 70 minutes well spent.

Here’s a reminder of some things I said to the Guardian last year: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/aug/01/on-the-road-in-search-of-dad

Nottingham Playhouse sold out and an extra show added!
Nottingham Playhouse sold out: extra show added!
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A big thank you!

It’s time to do some serious thanking. Today the first batch of Kickstarter rewards were posted out to those fine people who supported ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family’s crowdfunding campaign, so here comes the digital hat doffing. A huge and unreserved and frankly-not-appropriate-for-a-public-place thanks to:

‘EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS’
Lucy Stephens // Gareth ‘no relation’ Norris


‘ASSOCIATE PRODUCERS’
Sally Straw // Carl Sealeaf // Andrew Joel


AND TO ALL OUR OTHER REWARD-EARNING BACKERS
George Watkins // Luke Gunn // Neil Renault // Tom Manuel // Marilyn Le Conte // Josceline Edwards // Rob Keal // Sandra Hill // Andrew Spencer // Annalisa Collins // José Gianuzzi // Malaika Kegode // Beth Edwards // Ali Moore // Kieren King // Nathan Thomas // Hannah Sharp // Suzanna Spence // Scott Bryan // Ian Cosgrove // Bianca Winter // Jacob Prytherch // Ben Firth // Sue Atkinson // Fiona Williams // Marjory Bisset // Molly Wright // Theodore Hung // Hannah Skolnick // Jack Blume // Conal Bembridge-Sayers // Charlie Reilly // Hobie Walker // John Armour // Emma Mort Harding // Giovanni Esposito // Georgia House // Steve Harrison // Andy Cashmore // Ciarán Hodgers // Dan Baker // Joseph Sale // Alice Sillett // Kate Ford // Joanne Walton // Laura Dedicoat // James Hughes // Tash Daly // Jane Quarton // Harriet // Hannah Witton // Vanessa Kissule // Chris Bates // Imogen O’Sullivan // Dorian Wainwright // Paul Jennings // Ram // Matthew Ellis Murphy // Lorna Meehan // Tim Wheatley // Charlotte Higgins // Bohdan Piasecki // Ian Bowkett // Adam Heslop // Maria Ferguson // David Gray // Jacob Standbridge // Ricky Carey // Becky Straw // George Wilson // Beth Kapila // Vita Fox // Tristram Fane Saunders // Jess Reid // Beatrice Updegraff // Sharon Carr-Wu


We salute you! And now the internet can salute you too, in perpetuity! Without your help, we would never have been able to make the show a reality at Edinburgh 2015, and give it a life afterwards too. THANK YOU.

 

We need your help!

I’ve just launched a Kickstarter campaign to help raise the rest of the funds we need to finish The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family and get it to the Edinburgh Fringe, and beyond, this year. We have the support of IdeasTap, Underbelly, Apples & Snakes and mac birmingham, which is fantastic, but sadly not enough to cover everything. On top of this, we recently had some bad news from the Arts Council regarding a funding application we made to them, so we really are in need of a saviour or two (or a hundred)!

There’s a whole heap of rewards for people who pledge to help the project (anything from a fiver upwards gets you something in return), at the top of which is a personalised commissioned poem PLUS an hour-long intimate spoken-word set performed by me AT YOUR HOUSE! And lots of things in between, like signed copies of my now-sold-out Nasty Little Press pamphlet and signed posters, meet-and-greets, free tickets to the show, all sorts. This is of course alongside the cultural return you get for your investment, which is a show that will hopefully play to thousands of people this summer and to thousands more across the UK on tour next year.

So please help us in any way you can. And if you can’t afford to help us financially, please pester anyone you know who’s rich enough to do so! Spreading the word on your own social media is a really really useful thing, and something for which I’d be enormously grateful.

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer. I’m so passionate about this project. I hope others believe in it too.

WATCH THE VIDEO AND MAKE A DONATION HERE

Tickets now on sale!

TICKETS ARE NOW ON SALE for the show’s run at this summer’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, as well as for London previews in July and post-Edinburgh dates in September. Book them now, if not to avoid disappointment then at least to avoid having to book them later!

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Family 2

PREVIEWS
30th – 31st July 2015, 9pm
Camden People’s Theatre, London
BOOK TICKETS

EDINBURGH
6th – 30th August 2015, 4:40pm
Underbelly, Cowgate, Edinburgh Festival Fringe
BOOK TICKETS

SEPTEMBER DATES
9th September 2015, 8pm
Market Theatre, Ledbury
BOOK TICKETS
12th Septmber 2015, 7:30pm
mac Birmingham
BOOK TICKETS

IdeasTap Underbelly Award 2015

Underbelly Cowgate
Underbelly Cowgate

Earlier this year we were delighted to win the 2015 IdeasTap Underbelly Award, along with 3 other fantastic shows. The award received 204 applications and we were lucky enough to be among an 11-strong shortlist, which saw us travel to IdeasTap HQ in London to pitch to a panel. I performed an extract from the show and threw some props and cardboard signs around the room and generally made a big mess, Polly pressed play on iTunes, we talked a little bit of money-turkey, and then we left. And 5 days later we got the call!*

This is exciting for a number of reasons: it means we can do the Fringe ‘properly’, with comprehensive marketing and PR support; it means we are in an amazing, high-profile venue (Underbelly’s Big Belly on Cowgate); it means we can run for the entire festival (6-30 August) and showcase the work to as many people as possible; and IdeasTap is closing on 2nd June, so it’s an enormous – if bittersweet – privilege to be part of what will probably be their Edinburgh swansong.

I’m very proud of this show, so it’s a massive validation to have IdeasTap and Underbelly add their remarkable voices to the chorus demanding/begging/politely asking people to watch it, and a great opportunity to have almost a whole month in which those people can do the watching. ‘One-man show’ is a disingenuous term, and increasingly The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family is feeling less and less like a madcap solo mission, and less and less lonely. I’m grateful to have such a fantastic team working on the show, and now to have the support of such fantastic organisations. We’re moo-ving on up. Literally, to Scotland. See you in Edinburgh!

Tickets go on sale on 11th May. Check back here for a link.

*it was an email

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Family
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family

 

Snap Happy

Check out this gallery of some of the less blurred, over-exposed or wonkily framed pictures from our travels last month!

And don’t forget, you can book tickets for next Saturday’s preview performance here

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Behind The Lens

For me, the trip sort of resembled watching a 50 hour-long film on a tiny LCD screen called Ben Norris Walks In And Out Of Focus A Lot And Occasionally Gets Into Cars.

IMG_5094

You may think I needed some persuading to hitchhike through the crap towns greatest hits package with a super-sized camera and a regular-sized poet but you’d be utterly mistaken. Truth is, I jumped at the chance. Forget Dubai, the Seyshells and Monte Carlo, I holiday amongst the bright lights and heady thrills of Welwyn Garden City (still there, it turns out). Thank God for the DSLR; it could sex-up the frumpiest service station foyer at a lick and did wonders for Ben’s ragged roadside complexion.

Health & safety enthusiasts, cabbies, expensive car-owners, other car-owners, the public transport sector, all those who’ve ever tried it and failed and Ray’s mate Marcus might disagree, but hitchhiking is one hell of a way to get about. Life on the road is the idle fantasy I can’t get over. I’m forever nourishing my inner traveller with a succession of romantic clichés and brazenly ignoring all the reasons why it would be a shit and lonely and loveless and futile existence if taken up full time. Five days hitching, plus friend, plus theatrical imperative, however, was exactly right. Somewhere in amongst all the Travelodge ridicule and bear-based photoshoots was a sort of point… *

I’d expected to dismiss the half-remembered anecdotes about the formative years of my friend’s father as told by distant relatives and one-time companions with ease. To me, after all, they were meaningless. Names like Rose and Terry were bandied about with abandon whilst I wrestled with such challenges as keeping the camera vaguely upright. I had no faces, nor memories to put to these oft-quoted characters, but as the trip wore on and we delved deeper into Ray’s past, the detail of their lives began to take on significance. A humdrum legend. An epic myth of everyday ordinariness. By the time we rocked up at Wickham Street in Lambeth to gaze up at what was likely Rose’s birthplace, she was as much Zeus as she was Ben’s Nan. Where were the hordes of praying pilgrims and near-empty donation boxes, I probably wondered.

Also, it’s just really nice to get out of the house and see a bit of the world isn’t it. Not a good bit in this case, but unmistakeably, a bit. England’s concrete, camera-shy backwaters are characterised by rural snobbery, urban multiculturalism, the scary prevalence of Tesco and Costa, football fever, pints, pies, meal deals and a dead badger by the road. If you’re willing to overlook the alarming chlorine stench that may well indicate a nearby Travelodge, you’ll find a land of full of friendly human people, happy to talk about their lives and their past and their communities and their dogs and the size of their long-dead mate’s dick. I’m not patriotic, but I noticed my country to an extent I’m not sure I ever have before. It’s alright really.

It wouldn’t be a blog about a show about a hitchhike about a family without some unashamed self-promotion now would it? If the hitchhike taught me anything, it’s that you don’t need a degree in Norris family history to get something out of this show, you don’t even need a family, you just need to get your ass over to mac birmingham on Saturday the 6th September. I can promise laughter, tears, an over-50 percent chance of not falling asleep, and far more integrity and structural elegance than I’ve managed in this post!

And if you’ve decided not to come, I don’t think it’s going too far to say you’re significantly less of a person. Go sit in a corner and have a bloody good think about what you’ve done.

 

* A critically acclaimed, sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2015 followed by a national tour and knighthoods for all.

Day Six: It Ends Where It All Began

  • Explain why syntax dead, because too tired
  • Tell them we escaped Travelodge
  • List all things wrong with Travelodge
  • Apologise for length of list
  • Tell them we visited the house my dad was born in, in Brixton, and the house my nan, his mum, was born in, in Lambeth
  • Tell them we saw some goats, sheep, horses and really funny llamas in Vauxhall Farm
  • Remember to upload pictures of goats
  • Explain that the trip is all done now!
  • Thank them earnestly for their enormous support over the last few days; to our friends texting us and not expecting a response for aeons if at all, thank you; to the strangers who’ve been reading and enjoying the blog independently of any social obligation to me or Oscar, thank you
  • Remind them that they can buy tickets to the show here. Strongly, but politely, encourage them to do so, if they have enjoyed this blog
  • Ask them if they would be kind enough to tell their friends about it
  • Plead
  • Tell them that there will be more posts soon, but sleep first
Goodbye wonderful people, this has been the hitchhike bit of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family…the guide bit will come later! It was brought to you by Ben Norris, Oscar French, Dean the Bear, and a whole host of generous drivers, rememberers, friends, family and storytellers.
They asked us to rate our stay. I did this
They asked us to rate our stay. I did this
WOMBLING FREE
WOMBLING FREE
My dad was born somewhere in here
My dad was born somewhere in here!
My dad was born somewhere in here
My nan was born on this road…91 years ago!
Goats and MI6...our country's national security is in safe cloven hoof hands
Goats and MI6…our country’s national security is in safe cloven hoof hands
IMG_5216
Thank you and goodbye, for now…

Mad for the Hatters

Last night we left you in a bit of a hurry, denying you pictures of Day Five in the process (now uploaded for your viewing pleasure). But for good reason, dearest readers… We decided last minute to rush back to see Luton Town’s pre-season friendly against Colchester United. It seemed strange being at Kenilworth Road on Monday and not watching a match (after all, I’d never been to the ground with my dad when nothing was happening!), so when Jess mentioned that the Town were playing we vowed to return if time allowed. Thanks to Bea and her functioning car and empathy gland, time did allow.

It was fantastic to – if not be back in Luton so soon – be back at the ground, and this time with other Hatters. Walking among a sea of orange shirts was exactly the ritual that Monday had lacked. The attendance was modest, but this didn’t matter much. The fact it was a pre-season friendly, however, didn’t stop one man wishing death upon the linesman and all his children, which was a great shame. (He clearly hadn’t done his research either, as the linesman is famously childless.)

The experience was made all the more special because it was Oscar’s first professional football game in the flesh. He had a nice time. In a minute you’ll see various pictures of his face, having a nice time. He has said that he already feels a greater affinity to Luton Town than to any other club (if his dad – a life-long Hammer – is reading this, he says sorry), which tells you way more about his previous indifference to football than it does about Luton. Or perhaps not. Also, we had a pukka pie, because if it ain’t broke…

Thankfully, we managed to escape Luton before we had to spend another night in its clutches, only to remember half way home that we were returning to a fresh hell, to spend the night in a different identical building, the Nowhere-Near Wembley Travelodge. Shudder. This morning marks Travelodge Saturation Point, having spent the maximum number of nights it is possible to spend in one before going absolutely and irretrievably insane.

It was 2-2, by the way, so that was nice for everyone.

Oscar's first football match
Oscar’s first football match
Oscar's first pie
Oscar’s first pie
Oscar's first selfie
Oscar’s first selfie