We’re close but we’re not that “My mum is my best friend, I tell her everything” kind of close. I love her and I see myself in her. And the older I get, the more I see of her in me.

Hannah Norris and her mum

Hannah Norris and her mum

And that has a lot to do with why now. My mum, Angela, is 72 years old. When she was 14, she was in the first Australian production of The Sound of Music, as Brigitta. She could have had a career in the theatre; naturally talented, independent and determined enough, but she didn’t. I’ve always had an opinion on why that was. A mythology I’d created about my mum because I’d never actually talked to her about the whys of her life.

I think we all have that. Ideas of who our parents are. What shaped their lives and brought them to where they are now. We create their story to suit us. But for After You I wanted to hear my mum’s story because hers is the sort of story we don’t get told.

Women are masters at adapting male driven stories to give meaning to our own lives – quietly doing the work to make it relevant, spotting the differences in the mirror being held up to nature and assimilating it all. I can’t help seeing it and commenting on it everywhere – big productions with male led casts, film posters on the tube, the men making and playing music together. And I am constantly seeking. Seeking women’s stories, following the comedians, watching the musicians, actively giving my attention to these women and their art because I want more of it. And I finally feel brave enough to make it. I am an actor, an interpreter but now I am also a creator, a maker, a writer.

I was always jealous of the male confidence – the teenage schoolboy who was good at basketball but managed to learn one simple song on the guitar and played it to me over the phone, the drama school classmate who wrote a play and actually asked us to do a reading of it, the actor who walks into an audition room believing he’s going to kill it and walks out feeling like he’s done just that. I’ve thought through hundreds of show ideas to their completion without ever actually writing or doing them, because I convince myself they wouldn’t have been good enough. But beneath all that, it’s what I want to do, and it’s what I know I can do. But for the first one, I needed my mum to hold my hand.

And she needed me to hold hers. She was terrified about doing this show. Would she remember the words? Could she take direction? Would she let me down? Why would I want to tell her story? But she shines and she soars in After You. She even got an agent in Australia, her first one. At 72, maybe that acting career is about to begin. And that’s inspiring.


Venue: Assembly Rooms, Front Room,George Street, EH2 2LR

Time: 13:10 Running Time: 60 mins

Dates: 1 – 24 August. Previews 1-2 August. No show Tues 13 August. 

Tickets: Previews £7; 3-6, 9-11, 16-18, 23-24 August £11 (£10); 7-8, 12, 14-15, 19-22 August £10 (£9)

Bookings: assemblyfestival.com, 0131 623 3030 or Assembly box offices at Assembly Hall and Assembly Roxy, Assembly George Square, Assembly Checkpoint and Assembly Rooms