Binge Fringe Magazine

OPINION: Sean Denyer – My Journey to Prague Fringe 2024… How I’m ‘Getting Over Hugh’

This piece forms part of our Prague Fringe 2024 Preview Series. Tickets and Listings for Shows will be available soon on the Prague Fringe Box Office Website.

My name is Sean Denyer and I am the Co-Director of Acting Out, an LGBTQ+ theatre company based in Dublin, Ireland. Our mission is to put queer lives on stage and give the LGBTQ+ community an opportunity to make high quality theatre, and by so doing, increase the visibility of LGBTQ+ lives in Ireland and elsewhere.

I was involved in theatre and performance during school and college, but work pressures made it difficult to continue with that (I am a Doctor by profession). In 2006 I got the opportunity to write a piece for a theatre group I was part of. I really enjoyed the process of writing it and wanted to continue doing it. There was an almost  complete absence of Irish based queer theatre at the time, and so my husband, Howard, who has a background in drama facilitation, and I decided to start up an LGBTQ+ theatre group in Dublin.

I was lucky to be successful in getting some fantastic development opportunities, which helped me progress as a writer, and our work was awarded a number of prizes in Ireland which helped get us programmed and also, most importantly, get some funding.

Acting Out has been going now for sixteen years and in that time we have seen a lot of changes. The opportunities to get funding have definitely increased, and there is more interest from venues in programming queer work. There used to be an attitude that “Queer plays are for queer people” which is obviously absurd when you think that 90% of the work queer people see, has a straight lens on it, and we are very happy to see it!

I think programming decisions reflect the more open attitude society in Ireland has, which is, by and large, a good place to be LGBTQ+ now. But there is still a lack of understanding about how we got to that place, the struggles that were faced and the unbelievable resilience of the queer community.

One show which we also took to Prague Fringe was The Decriminalisation Monologues, which was about the experience of a gay man and a lesbian before the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland in 1993. We had more response to that piece than anything we have ever done. People were genuinely shocked, at what people had to put up with in the past. The show instigated some really powerful conversations between LGBTQ+ people and their families and friends. That’s what theatre can do.

The show we are bringing to Prague this time is a three-hander called, Getting Over Hugh. It’s a queer rom-com with a twist! It’s about a guy called Alan whose twenty year relationship with Hugh has come to an end. A chance meeting in a cinema with the much younger Rory offers the possibility of new love, but something is keeping him stuck in the past. I was inspired to write it after reading the programme for Dublin Fringe. I kept turning the pages, and there was not one show that addressed the lives of people over about thirty. If LGBTQ+ people have generally been invisible, older LGBTQ+ people have been completely unseen.

We had a work-in-progress showing of it in the Dublin Gay Theatre Festival last year, which went well, but I have tweaked it quite a bit since then- it’s so helpful to put something before an audience and have the chance to work on it after- you never really know what works (and doesn’t) until real people see it!

We love Prague Fringe! This is our fourth show at it. The Studio Rubín has become like a second home! It’s such a friendly and intimate festival. We have made friends all over the world from people we met at it. The festival always aims to be inclusive and challenging, and they really support and value the artists, other festivals could learn a thing or two from them! You also get the chance to see lots of shows, because of the way things are scheduled, which is brilliant. Nothing is more inspiring than seeing how other people make work.

Tickets and Listings for Shows will be available soon on the Prague Fringe Box Office Website.

Sean Denyer

Sean is Co-Director of LGBTQ+ Theatre Company Acting Out, bringing Getting Over Hugh to Prague Fringe in 2024.

Pronouns: He/Him