FRICTION is a piece of theatre about sexual harassment and sexual assault and living in a culture where this becomes trivial and normalised. Seán Farrelly’s script is intertwined with 27 voices channelled through verbatim interviews sourced from young people in Ireland today.  We had a chat with Seán in advance of the show…..

Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where did you grow up?
I was born here in Dublin. The Rotunda Hospital, to be exact. My dad had bought expensive tickets to a boxing match, in the hopes of distracting mam from my being very overdue. I decided to come out just as they were sitting down. I guess, even then, that I couldn’t bear to miss a show. I was raised in Donabate. I still live there now with my family and aggressively cute dog.

How long have you been interested in writing?
It’s hard to pinpoint specifically when my interest ignited. Since I can remember, I always took card writing way too seriously; essays were written in “Thank You” cards; sonnets were composed for mam’s birthday; Santa lists were signed off with original carols. It was all very embarrassing. I started to take writing seriously in Transition Year, wherein I attended workshops in a NGO called Fighting Words. The organisation was founded by Roddy Doyle and Sean Love. It aims to promote creative writing in young people, and, through it, I published several poems, short stories for the Irish Times and I even had a couple of plays produced in conjunction with the Abbey. I’ve been writing consistently from that point on.

Which medium do you prefer writing for?
I’ve tried my hand at every medium. From horrifically angst-filled poetry during my teenage years, to, more recently, T.V scripts. I always gravitate, however, to plays and novels. I tend to enjoy the collaborative aspect of theatre a lot, while also craving to have a book published someday on a shelf somewhere.

Who are your favourite writers?
There are honestly too many to name. For books, I used to read and reread James Patterson, Cassandra Claire, Derek Landy, Robert Muchamore and Michael Grant compulsively. As I’ve gotten older, I inhaled every Stephen King novel I could get my hands on; and now, while steadily chipping my way through classics, I’m reading a lot of Zadie Smith, Donna Tart and Kurt Vonnegut. The best book I’ve read all year, by a wide margin, is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I won’t list all my favourite playwrights, scriptwriters and poets. Names like David Mamet, Tennessee Williams, Samuel Beckett, Aaron Sorkin, Shonda Rhimes, William Carlos Williams, Rupi Kaur and Colm Keegan spring automatically to mind.

Tell us how you became involved with Freshly Ground/ Friction?
I’m close friends with Martha Knight, a core member of Freshly Ground, who stars in and co-sound produced Friction. I knew her through a novel writing course we both attended in DCU. I had wanted to write a play and asked her if she would potentially be interested in acting/collaborating/etc. It was then she told me about Freshly Ground, and she asked if I had any original material I could share with them, so they could get an idea of my ability. I had just finished a short film script entitled Smiley the Shrimp. The Freshly Ground team liked it and we agreed to work together.

Tell us about the process of writing this piece?
I was asked by the Freshly Ground team to come up with a list of concepts and then we narrowed them down together. The idea for Friction was inspired by a trip to Rome I had gone on a year before. During a tour of the Forum, my guide regaled the group with tales of the Vestal Virgins. I won’t recount details here, but basically the way they these roman women were persecuted and besmirched for alleged sexual behaviours was reminiscent of modern attitudes towards rape and rape culture. I pitched the concept, and someone added to it the fact that people are more likely, statistically speaking, to intervene if someone shouts fire than if someone shouts rape. The two thoughts were combined, and Friction was born. After workshopping the idea, we realised that it the piece would be skewed, or unbalanced, or unrepresentative of modern perceptions without including voices of young people directly affected by these issues. We decided to conduct interviews from a set of fixed questions, and then use the recorded answers verbatim in the play. Whilst the interviews were being gathered, I went off and wrote the character narrative, through which the interviews would be inextricably woven.  As we delved more and more into the issues concerning the normalisation of sexual assault, and as relevant headlines and news stories came to the fore in the media, we thought to use recordings on top of the interviews and character bits.  I hope Friction will provide a useful contribution to the ongoing discussion.

Who do you think would enjoy this show?
I think young people would have a vested interest in Friction. It directly relays common experiences on nights out and in life more generally. Anyone who is concerned with or who has an interest in the debates surrounding rape culture, victim blaming or normalisation of sexual assault, I feel, should see the show. I tailored the script in such a way as to not be biased towards any viewpoint, so as not to exclude any group of people. My hope is that it’ll spark discussions between all generations. The more diverse group of people who see it, the more valuable that conversation will be.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself?
I’m always terrible at these questions… I used to be a competitive salsa dancer. People called me Salsa Seán. It was a dark time and I regret it deeply.

What’s next for you?
I’m now an intern in Fighting Words for six months. During my time there, I hope to finish the first draft of a young adult novel, set in Dublin, that deals with addiction.


Thanks Seán, all the best with your internship, we’re sure this is the start of a notable writing career!


Thursday 23rd – Saturday 25th Nov. 8.15pm
Tickets €12