Body 115, an energetic blend of theatre and richly lyrical poetry, written and performed by Jan Noble returns to the Hope Theatre, London as part of Camden Fringe from 20 August (Press night 21 August). Adapted for the stage by award winning writer and director Justin Butcher (Scaramouche Jones, The Madness of George Dubya), Body 115 is a tale of inner and outer journeys in explicit homage to Dante’s Divine Comedy.
From the rain-washed, subterranean underworld of Kings Cross, ‘Body 115’ – the long unidentified victim of the 1987 fire – becomes Virgil to Noble’s Dante. A voyage of discovery and recovery, embracing decay and gentrification, a sense of place and the need to escape.
Invoking ancient rebellion and civil strife, through London runnels to picturesque Kent, we meet Marlowe at Millwall and Keats at Gravesend. Led from the limbo realm of a Calais refugee camp to the slumbering battlefields of Flanders, we travel to Paris where poet-ghosts of yesteryear throng the backstreets of Montparnasse. And at last, to Milan, in a season of wet weather, we arrive to find that more than just the rain awaits.
This one hour, one person show is a rhapsodic paean to the trammelling ecstasy of loss. A trans-European odyssey turned safari of the soul.
London-based poet Jan Noble studied Fine Art at Canterbury College of Art (now the University for the Creative Arts). He has taught creative writing in prisons, psychiatric hospitals and homeless shelters and was poetry facilitator for leading London mental health charity, Core Arts establishing a creative writing class for the homeless at the Union Chapel, Islington.
He was a member of punk band Monkey Island, recording albums at the Stiff Records studio Pathway, Islington and performing regularly at the Hope & Anchor in Islington. Their releases include the spoken word monologue Mussolini’s Teaspoons (2001), which was The Guardian Guide’s ‘single of the week’. He has recorded poetry with producer Craig Leon (Pavarotti, Blondie, The Ramones) at Abbey Road studios that featured on the album Cesarians 1 (2009) and his ongoing collaboration with composer Donna McKevitt includes the album This Is What I Wanted To Give You (2016).
He has performed readings in venues as diverse as the ICA in London, The Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York, Teatro Filodrammatici in Milan, and Teatrino Di Palazzo Grassi in Venice.
Other work includes, My Name is Swan (2017) a poetic monologue performed at every pub in London with ‘Swan’ in its name. This was documented in a film of the same name and was officially selected for the East End Film Festival, ‘Margate Now’ at the Turner Contemporary, and the International Poetry Film Festival, Los Angeles (2023). Jan was a principal reader in Speaking Dante in 2022, a 24-hour reading of the entire Divine Comedy in Florence which included readings by Ralph Fiennes and Helen Mirren. His latest poetic work Shelley 200 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of English romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and has been performed at Keats-Shelley House, Rome and the British Institute, Florence.
His forthcoming work includes Reynard a 45-minute poetic monologue read by John Nettles, that will be released as a vinyl album in the autumn.