Category Archives: Monologues

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family – Ben Norris, MAC 6th Sept.

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Saturday 6th September was a busy day – I missed the Festival of Colour in Digbeth, as I was performing at Reams of Dreams in Stafford. I have seen some great photos and heard it was a great day. After Stafford Arts Festival, I got home in time to get across to the MAC for Ben’s show, a one off Preview Performance.

Ben Norris Oscar French Oscar French © 2014

‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family’ 

It was absolutely ruddy amazing and I wish I had written about it once I got home – with all the energy and eagerness I felt when I got in. Ben Norris is a UK SLAM Champion and a great Performance Poet, I have had the pleasure of watching him perform a few times this year. He has also been working on this one man show.

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I don’t want to give too much away as I know he plans to take it to Edinburgh next year, so look out for it and GO AND SEE IT!

In the meantime I am sure Ben won’t mind me sharing the teasers he posted on You Tube or blogging my reaction to this great show.

 

Oscar French and Ben Norris spent 6 days on the road this summer re-tracing his father’s steps backwards from their home in Nottingham to London, where his dad came from. They visit relatives and friends, rely on the kindness of strangers and hope that people still hitch hike.

They created a blog to track the time on the road http://thehitchhikersguidetothefamily.wordpress.com and once home Ben working really hard for probably less than 3 weeks to get the show together.

Post Show Discussion

There was a post show discussion with Polly Tisdall, Oscar French and Ben Norris, which proved what some people love, others don’t and helped the team realise which areas of the production were confusing or worked well. I filled out my feedback form fully (whole sheet of A4) as well as getting some points across in the post discussion show. It was exciting listening to other people’s opinions.

Here is what people had to say about this one man show.

Reviews

 Ben Norris‘s One man show The Hitchhikers Guide to The Family was truly a stunning piece of spoken word theatre,  from the eyewatering hysterical laughing & the emotional nostalgia I felt so happy & completely mesmerised at his storytelling ability & Omg to top all that brilliance off he gets his kit off I loved it. – Ddotti Bluebell

Had an awesome evening watching the incredibly talented Ben Norris debuting his one man show The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family at MAC, Birmingham. Compelling, achingly hilarious and heartbreakingly poignant in equal measure, if you missed it you really missed a treat, but it will hit the road (pardon the pun) again next year so keep an eye out for it and go see it if you get chance. You won’t regret it. – Deborah McEwan

And my own words;

 This was an awesome show – a very polished project in process… so you too could have a chance of seeing it in the future! DO! Well done Ben Norris a superb one man show with the perfect balance of comic storytelling and insightful family tale… a great piece of theatre… the team should be very proud!

ben norrisOscar French © 2014

The Production Team

Ben Norris    Writer & Performer

Actor, writer, spoken-word artist, and the reigning UK all-stars poetry slam champion. He is a regular on the spoken-word and festival circuit, with recent performances at the Roundhouse, Royal Festival Hall, Latitude, Ronnie Scott’s, Tongue Fu, Bang Said The Gun, and many more. His first book of poetry was published earlier this year by Nasty Little Press.

Polly Tisdall    Director

Storyteller, Birmingham REP Foundry director, and founder of Rambling Heart Theatre Company. She was also 2011 UK Young Storyteller of the Year.


Oscar French    Producer

Emerging producer and freelance script reader, whose experience to date includes producing and stage management roles for independent short films and student theatre. He has also worked with the Romany Theatre Company and BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.


Paul McHale    Filmmaker

Freelance camera operator and editor, filming and producing animations, promotional films, narrative and art exhibition projects.


Inua Ellams    Artistic Mentor

Internationally recognised poet, playwright and performance artist. He has published two poetry pamphlets: Candy Coated Unicorns and Converse All Stars and Thirteen Fairy Negro Tales. His first play, The 14th Tale, was awarded a Fringe First, and his third, Black T-Shirt Collection ran at the National Theatre. He is currently working on a new play called Barber Shop Chronicles, a poetry pamphlet called #Afterhours and his first full collection, Of All The Boys of Plateau Private School.


Louisa Davies    Executive Producer

Performing Arts Producer at mac birmingham, she has worked with artists including Polarbear, Nick Makoha, A Little Commitment and Sid Peacock on solo shows.

 

With this post I have just learnt how to change text and that the toolbar extends…. hmmmmm how long have I been using WordPress!

Research: Comedy Writing – Tips & Links

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036331-3d-glossy-blue-orb-icon-transport-travel-transportation-airplane3I need my muse out of that AIRPORT lounge RIGHT NOW!

For the first time this month I am filled with the exhilarated excitement of a writer who is about to write. Finally! Yippeee! The only irk is I am now days off a deadline and have felt (up until now) empty of ideas.

I know you are supposed to leave your writing before proofreading but everything I do from here relies on speed. I am currently, hurriedly researching (which is where this blog post comes in), I hope to finish writing the first draft tonight, leave it a day, edit – print – proof – print and send… (2 days to achieve edit to polish!) dl

I believe in passing things forward – now I am researching comedy writing (I will add at this point that previous experience both as an actor and performance writer, in addition to the more recent theatre scriptwriting workshops with Alan Harris back in May/June and my workshop day with Keith Lindsay (in February) have all given me a great foundation to believe that I can have a stab at this challenge).

As you will know from reading my ‘About’ page I have been out of this writing game a long while and fashions change, it is essential to complete a little research before I dive off the high board into an audience of laughing faces!

I thought I would share my findings and some useful websites with you along the way. It also means I can access this message to continue my quest (saves sending numerous linked emails to myself) and it might help you!

PS If any of you are comedy writers please feel free to load the comment boxes with advice, tips, knowledge, success stories and website links you find useful.

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script mugResearch: Comedy Writing – Tips & Links

Researching the Comedy Monologue:

Monologues are talky by nature. There probably won’t be a lot of action, and events may be told rather than shown. Avoid heading into talking head territory: make sure your characters have some attitude or emotion.

Monologues can be made more interesting if characters play a subtext, so what they’re saying is at odds with what they really think.

http://comedyu.com/20090828/the-sketch-comedy-monologue/ posted by  

Writing the Monologue – checklist

Steps I have Already Taken

  1. Think of the Topic.
  2. Make sure it matches the requirements of the brief.
  3. Make sure you know how to set out performance manuscript/ script.
  4. Mind-map some descriptive words – these will be used to make the performance writing interesting and ensure it makes sense.
  5. Make descriptive sentences – have a play around – helps develop character voice.
  6. Draw up a picture (literally if you want to) of your character.

* Who are they?

* What makes them tick?

* How do they feel about what they are telling the audience?

7. Think about how to make it funny. How will it appeal to the audience? Think about who your audience is.

8. Always give the character someone to talk to.

9. And of course the advice that all writers know READ, READ, READ!

I have a book of monologues from my audition days and in addition to devouring this small paperback, I have also searched the internet and read more comedy monologues. You can spot patterns of good writing by doing this – like a detective! (Which if I could stand the sight of blood, is a career I may have considered.)

There are many websites where you find well written monologues and enjoy a few hours reading – this is speed research, so I will leave you with one and encourage you to use a search engine to discover the wonderful world of performance writing.

http://www.icomedytv.com/Comedy-Scripts/Funny/ViewType/Humorous/31/Comedy-Monologues.aspx

After those 9 Steps of Mine –checklist

It really is all about the Character!

Note, I don’t say: “be funny”. Sure, chances are some lines will be hilarious,  but what’ll really make people laugh is an accurate character portrayal. The  more specific you are with speech patterns, physical embodiment, character arc –  the more people will connect. And laugh.
http://aiminglow.com/2011/10/how-to-write-a-comedic-character-monologue/#smqlIkULqXtHkO1J.99

My Tips – based on knowledge and experience from my past, treading the boards and writing for performance- ideas for making your character live, creating the monster!

  • Write a character who has a flaw.
  • Imagine (or write if you have time) your character into different situations. How do they react?
  • Become your character – act them out of the situations – rehearse/stage the monologue – some writers may find it useful to record – others (especially those with no acting experience would rather not risk being discovered as the next ‘You Tube’ sensation!
  • Develop some physical or verbal character traits – especially if they cleverly tie into the ‘reveal’ of your writing/monologue/character.

Another Staircase – checklist

Steps to take before the EDIT

Ask someone to read the script, get there opinion of it – don’t ask a close friend or relative and don’t expect to pester writer contacts without payment. It is important to get a point of view from another perspective. Next, consider how much criticism was constructive and useful and what, if anything you don’t agree with.

Read and proof your copy editing with your review in mind. bob Fix it!

I hope these ideas are helpful for some of you I am off to change into the character from the ankle up (Stanislavski would be proud!)