The Hardest Word

At the Hungarian premiere of the play

Jess Smith/Photo

The Hardest Word on 27 July, Independent Theater tells about the civil activity of Jess Smith, a writer, poet, and storyteller belonging to the Gypsy Traveller community in Scotland.
The goal that Jess sets for herself is nothing less than demand the country’s first minister to apologise for the long centuries of persecution that Travellers had to suffer.

The monodrama displays both the vulnerability and the firm character of Jess. From her confession, we learn what challenges she has to face while fighting steadily for her goals - against her own family, the society or the authority.   

Sometimes civil disobedience is the only way to maintain our dignity, she believes.

The premiere of the play takes place in the frame of the First International Storytelling Festival, 27-28 July.
Iain Lindsay, the British Ambassador to Hungary gives the welcome speech.
After the performance, the playwright, Richard R. O’Neill, is in conversation.
The play is in Hungarian language, with English subtitles.

Written by: Richard R. O’Neill
Translated by: Viktória Kondi
Hungarian translation supervised by: Ágnes Stemler

Directed by: Rodrigó Balogh
Screenplay by: Márton Illés

Jess Smith - Edina Dömök

Stúdió K Theatre (Budapest, 9. district, Ráday street 32.)
27th July 2017, 21.10
Duration of the performance: 30 min
Duration of the conversation: 60 min

The webpage of Studio K Theatre, in a limited number.

Background and impact of the play   

Richard R O’Neill’s play, based on the story of Jess Smith, was first performet at Edinburgh Storytelling Festival in 2008. 
The issue of the centuries long persecution caught the attention of the Church of Scotland when one of the priests, Russel McLarty attended Jess Smith’s show at the festival. 
After the premiere, Jess met the church leaders and this experience initiated long-lasting changes in the church’s approach to Traveller’s history.
When Jess Smith told her friend, the playwright Richard R. O’Neill about her plan to demand a statement of apology from the state, he offered to write a monologue for Jess - so this play is the demand itself. 
Although neither the state nor the first minister apologised to the Traveller communities for the violation of their human rights, on 25 May 2012 the Church of Scotland did so.

In the UK, the performance brought countrywide recognition for the artists, inspired the everyday work of health care and community development organisations, and encouraged Roma women to write.