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Ben Hamilton - Playwright

What is one of your favorite memories?   When the parachutist interrupted the Evander Holyfield-Riddick Bowe heavyweight world championship fight in the early 1990s. It was so unexpected; I didn't even know the fight was being held outdoors. He got caught up in the ropes and then landed on the lap of Jesse Jackson's wife. All hell broke loose. That's the kind of intensity I want to see in theatre.

Describe yourself in max three words.   I think a former headmaster summed me up best when he said I was "creative but rarely in a constructive way", so I guess that would make me "creatively destructive".

What is a sound you love?   Good question. I'd have to go for the reluctant murmur of approval I sometimes get from battleaxes who clearly don't like me, but absolutely fall in love with my carrot cake.

Who was your hero when you were a child?   Music-wise, I was a teen in an era bereft of idols beyond Billy. I briefly had a thing for Tucker Jenkins from Grange Hill, but in the adult world I'd have to go for Malcolm McDowell: loved him in films like If ... and A Clockwork Orange, but 1980s excesses weren't kind to him, and Our Friends in the North was a false dawn. Sad: he should have been immense. 

You are an artist because….  That's not a word I associate with, unless you mean piss artist? As a teen, a late developer firing pre-emptive strikes to deter bullies, I was in my element, but I've learned to be respectful. As another former teacher said: he must be more tolerant, and I like to think I am!

As the editor of the Copenhagen Post newspaper, Ben writes news for a living and it wasn't until 2008, when he co-wrote a sitcom set in Copenhagen, that he realised he could create something from a blank canvas. “Sure, there are some who say my journalism is creative … in a bad way, and it's true: I push boundaries to see what I can get away with – the self-appointed arbiters of how things should be done are never far away.” Even though the sitcom wasn't produced, Ben took confidence from co-creating 300+ pages of that series and went on to write his debut play “Don’t mention the War”. “The more you write, the better you get: I was just waiting to find the right medium, I guess.” Over the past 15 years Ben has reviewed multiple plays, and that's been as he quotes something of a learning experience: what works, what doesn't, what do audiences really want to see on a live stage ... beyond Adele and people getting decapitated.”  Ben, who studied English literature at university, admits that in truth very few playwrights manage to impress him. “David Mamet does a good job. I like the way he’s always been ahead of the curve. But really, you can't beat Shakespeare: there's a good reason why we never stop returning to his stories. What I love about him is how he wrote for the masses. His language was beautiful but never too convoluted. And above everything, his plays were accessible and equally enjoyed by royalty and peasants.”


Don’t mention the war (playwright)

Photo credits gallery: to be announced

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