Tess Adams says Words is Words is Words at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Name: Tess Adams
Name of Edinburgh show: Words is Words is Words
Venue: The Space, Surgeons Hall, Venue 53, Theatre 3
Performance time: 14.10
Show length: 45 mins
Ticket price: £6 / £5

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
If you had told me last year – having experienced the buzz, quality and variety of the Fringe as a visitor – that I would be performing this year (2018), I would have run for cover. This is my debut at the Fringe – indeed it is my debut.

I considerd myself a page poet and have always shied away from putting myself forward for anything.

Inside one of my Christmas cards this year, was tucked an A4 poster from my family (my brother in law is a graphic designer). My image was imprinted behind the words of one of my poems. At first I thought it was for the wall, until I studied it closer and realised my husband and sons had clubbed together to buy me a space at The Fringe this year. To be absolutely honest, I thought it was a bit of a cruel present given my fear of public speaking! I guess when you’re told as a child to keep quiet, say nothing, shut up, you learn pretty quickly you really don’t have anything useful to say. Although my family believed in me, I resisted until April this year when I got onto a poetry course and gained some confidence. Now I’m trying to make up for lost time

Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
I’ve written a narrative around some of my poems. Some of them are about loss, some about love, some about therapy (I’m a Psychotherapist), but I promise you all of them are short! Humour also litters my show – sometimes you have to laugh for fear you’ll cry. At the moment it’s just me, but I think I might have got someone to read one or two of my poems to add some variety. And Brother’s Broke ( are threatening to add some musical tones! (They have their own show When Judas met John) after mine.

How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
In 2004, after a huge fight, I received a large settlement from the NHS for medical negligence. I was administered with a lethal dose syntocinin which made my uterus rupture. I lost my daughter, my womb, my ovaries, sustained brain damage and had 49 litres of blood pumped through me – I was in coma for 10 days and not expected to live. I left hospital an empty shell, minus my baby and my bladder leaking like a sieve (damaged during all the commotion). I suffered with depression and PTSD.

Skip a few years to today. I am now a Psychotherapist on a deeply fulfilling pathway I would never have found if it wasn’t for my trauma, I believe my daughter nudged me onto this pathway.

I have learned that with tragedy comes a gift if you look for it.

Then in 2010 I was doing a Masters at Roehampton Uni, and my younger sister was ill in Hammersmith Hospital. I decided to leave the programme because my modules clashed with visiting times. She insisted I did not, so I spoke to my Programme Leader (also the Head of Poetry) who suggested I swap to Poetry because the lectures were held in the mornings and then I would have all day with my sis. I told him I didn’t know anything about poetry and wasn’t particularly interested either. He looked at me and said ‘You look like a poet”. I swapped to poetry!

Poetry – a gift from my sister. When she died shortly after, my words of grief grew wings and literally spilled onto my page.

So, to answer your question (!), I have been preparing most of my life.

Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
I think you’ll need to ask me about the performing aspect after August! But to a visitor, my advice would be to enter wholeheartedly into the spirit of the Fringe (I’m not necessarily talking about whisky here!), keep an open mind, go to several shows per day but take lots of relaxing breaks – maybe get a picnic and sit and watch the world go by in one of the beautiful parks. Oh, and don’t discard free shows – often they are performed by up and coming artists and you can boast you spotted them first!

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
The first time I ever stood up in company, I was reciting a poem which had a similar run of words in a line as one of my other poems – I started one poem (about self harming) and ran straight into another (about the birth of my son) – I can still see the confused faces.

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
I think the poet who has inspired me the most is Dean Atta – an up and coming spoken word artist from Brighton. He has succeeded against the odds because he believed in himself when others didn’t. I’m also a fan of Kate Tempest – a wise head on young shouders.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I’m going to clamber on Arthur’s seat for an hour or so each day before my show – burn off some of my nerves – see if I can leave them there!

What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
1) When Judas met John, an acoustic blues duo – twins Tom and Hugh Adams. They promise to be spectacular. They’re playing at The Space
2) Individual Medley by Katrina Quinn – I’ve seen her preview and it’s thought provoking and uplifting. Katrinia is playing in Grassmarket.
3) Carol Ann Duffy – her words inspire me.

Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
I think my show will stay with my audience – its raw, from the heart. I hope it will enter their souls.


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