Cowboys and Lesbians comes to Edinburgh in August

By: Jul. 24, 2023
Edinburgh Festival
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BWW caught up with the team behind Cowboys and Lesbians to chat about bringing the show to the 2023 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Tell us a bit about Cowboys and Lesbians.

Cowboys and Lesbians is a queer romantic comedy about two repressed British schoolfriends, Nina and Noa, who start writing a parody American coming-of-age romance - only for the colourful, familiar characters in it to come to life and show them that they might just have a story of their own to tell.

I like to think the show has a very unique voice and sense of humour. It is a marriage of parody and sincerity, using genre-parody (think all those Instagram reels and TikToks about silly rom-com tropes, for example) to illuminate a real-world narrative which has a genuine message. You also get basically two plays for the price of one – a fruity, parody coming-of-age film set on a ranch in the US, and a love story starring two sarcastic British teenagers. So, it has something for everyone!

What was the inspiration behind writing this show?

I actually wrote the show to fill a theatre space – we were offered a slot at the White Bear in Kennington, which is a lovely, intimate space, suited to plays with small casts and minimal sets, and I accepted based on the fact that it would force me to write something. It did, and I couldn’t have been happier with how it turned out. The limitations presented by the space really made the play soar, I think, and that has been a really useful lesson in playwriting.

It is based on the extended parody universes I used to create at school with my best friend. I think our way of expressing that we felt left out of traditional narratives about teenagers was to make up these ridiculous, melodramatic sketch-comedy versions of teen films full of over-the-top characters. I think it ultimately helped both of us break from these narratives that we felt had been prescribed to us – and that was something I wanted to depict on stage.

Why did you think it was an important story to tell?

I think in an age where more and more queer stories are available to us (as Noa says in the show, “no-one’s straight”!), it is easy to forget how submerged we are in romantic narratives based on heteronormative ideals: particularly when it comes to the traits that are deemed most “fanciable” (in both men and women). I wanted to write a play about how these narratives affected my own process of understanding my sexuality when I was a teenager.

It was also important to us that this story centred queer joy, and made fun of the pervasive queer tragedizing in mainstream films, tv and theatre. I think the play’s un-problematising, open-hearted approach to queer romance also makes it all the more accessible to different audiences. Some of my more conservative elderly relatives who attended the last run and said they found it very “thought-provoking”, which I thought was a great sign.

Who would you like to come and see it?

Fellows members of the queer community! There are so many incredible queer-led shows going on this year and I can’t wait to meet as many of their writers and performers as possible.

Plenty of teenagers, too! I would have loved my teen self to be able to see it, so I hope that lots of young people do.

I’d also love to hear what a more international audience had to say about it – particularly anyone from the US. The play purposefully makes fun of British preconceptions about America and American fiction, so it would be brilliant to hear what folks from across the pond think about it!

What would you like audiences to take away from it?

Plenty of joy, and a willingness to find things worth romanticising in their own life.

Tickets are available here: 

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