Preview: The Words Are There (Hope Theatre)

Ronan Dempsey’s new play The Words Are There comes to the Hope Theatre from 14-25 Nov following a sell-out run in the summer at Edinburgh Fringe.

Developed as part of the Scene and Heard Festival of new work in Ireland, The Words Are There sensitively but powerfully explores a modern-day taboo subject.

“Life has left Mick speechless, but in his silence lies a story. Amidst childhood falsehoods, Mick sifts through fragmented memories as he struggles to find the words for a very important day.”

Where: The Hope Theatre, Islington

When: 14-25 Nov, 7.45pm & 3pm Sats

Ticket link:

I caught up with Ronan to find out more about this important and groundbreaking piece of theatre.

Production image for The Words Are There

The Words Are There is very much a play without live dialogue. Was this a conscious choice right from the beginning?

Thanks a mill for the interview, Louise. It’s interesting that you ask that. At the very beginning, I was being pulled in that direction.

But out of fear I ignored it and went on to write a full 60 page first draft two hander, but the more I got into the research of the subject matter it became more insulated because of the solitude associated with male domestic abuse.

It then became just about one character, but I still had multiple characters in the play, such as parents, brothers, sisters, neighbours etc. who all had something to add, but again the research and instinct was pulling me into silence.

The play then became about silence and solitude and my instincts then were to play with the body and gesture. But everything that I had originally written did find its way into the piece in many different ways.

Five drafts and two works in progress shows later this is where it’s arrived at. I’m so proud of it.

The show has been a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe. Do you enjoy the buzz of a fringe festival like this?

To be honest, I didn’t at first. It’s brutal. I found it very stressful because I was still learning. I think every festival is different and you just need to find the key to being successful at it.

Simply being an artist is not enough and the show won’t be enough. That’s what I learned and when I started to get into producer mode it became much easier and for sure then i began to enjoy it.

I bit the bullet, parked the art, and became quite bold in my approach to selling. So when the numbers arrive, you can relax and enjoy the buzz and share something really special with an audience.

What should audiences expect from The Words Are There, and what would you like the take-home message to be?

Something very daring, testing, challenging, intense, beautiful, and believe it or not, FUNNY! You’re not alone, you’re not crazy, you’re strong, get out of that situation.

Do you think the fringe theatre scene has changed since the pandemic, and what do you see happening in the future?

I suppose it’s important to look at the positives after it being such a tough time. It feels like there is a renewed attitude and appreciation to Artists, especially independent artists.

I have been out postering and flyering in Islington, Highbury and Angel this week and so many people mentioned how incredible it is to be at events again and the importance of picking a Fringe event first over Big Theatre.

That feeling was very strong. In Ireland, in some ways the pandemic did us some favours I feel. When the Arts were taken from us as a society, we realised what Art meant to us. I think it also made Arts funding organisations and the Government step up, support and dig deeper.

Arts funding has increased in Ireland, and the way of distributing the funding has changed because of the pandemic. In more ways, the money is going direct to the artists and makers, and the funding is getting there earlier so we can make work much quicker.

Why is it important to tackle difficult topics through drama and comedy?

In comparison to other art forms, I feel there is nothing like a live theatre show to affect people. In the theatre there is a sharing that is like no other.

I think when we occupy the same space as a drama as it unfolds, it changes us, and we get messages so much clearer and so much more powerfully.

It’s often been said to me by audiences after The Words Are There that they simply don’t know what to do or how to feel when the lights go down.

They don’t even know if clapping is appropriate because of what they’ve just witnessed. That always took me aback. I feel this is why we need theatre and need a theatre that moves and dares.

Image credit: Ste Murray

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