Casting has been announced for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s forthcoming production of Charlie Josephine’s new play, Cowbois. Running in the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon between 14 October – 18 November 2023, the production is co-directed by Charlie Josephine (they/he) and Sean Holmes (he/him).
In a sleepy town in the Wild West, the women drift through their days like tumbleweed. Their husbands, swept up in the goldrush, have been missing for almost a year and show no sign of returning. In fact, the town is almost cut off from outsiders entirely, with only one drunken sheriff for protection. That is until handsome bandit Jack Cannon, a trans masc cowboy, swaggers up to the town’s saloon, inspiring a gender revolution.
Charlie Josephine is an award-winning writer and actor whose most recent work includes I, Joan (Shakespeare’s Globe, 2022) and One of Them Ones (Pentabus).
Talking about Cowbois, Charlie said: “Cowbois a big queer cowboy show. It’s full of everything you’d expect from a western, but our lone ranger – Jack Cannon – is a gender outlaw who fights patriarchy and inspires a revolution in a town full of women. It’s an exploration of honest desire in bodies assigned female at birth, when they’re free from the male gaze and given the chance to be their authentic selves.
“I love cowboys, and wanted to be one growing up. There’s something about the iconic gesture and pose of a cowboy, the sexiness, the swagger that I used as the inspiration for the character of Jack. I also wanted to disrupt the Hollywood version of cowboys: the white cis straight men who are often misogynistic and racist. Instead I wanted to write about sexy trans masculine cowboys and queer working class women.
“There’s not enough theatre by, for and about working-class women and queer people. I hope people coming to watch this show feel empowered seeing these characters on this stage. I hope people have some interesting chats about patriarchy, gender and freedom after seeing it. And of course I hope that everyone will have a great night out!
“Cowbois is an exploration of masculinity, power and freedom. But moreover, it’s a love letter to the trans masculine people in history whose stories have been ignored or erased.”
Co-director, Sean Holmes added: “Charlie and I are delighted with this exceptional cast for our upcoming production of Cowbois. They are a brave, clever and creative collective, and we look forward to having lots of fun making a bold, provoking and entertaining show together.”
The cast comprises: Bridgette Amofah (she/her) plays Mary; Lee Braithwaite (they/them) plays Lucy/Lou; Shaun Dingwall (he/him) plays Frank/Tommy; Michael Elcock (he/him) plays George; Colm Gormley (he/him) plays John; Vinnie Heaven (they/them) plays Jack; Paul Hunter (he/him) plays Sheriff Roger Jones; Lucy McCormick (she/her) plays Jayne; Sophie Melville (she/her) plays Miss Lillian; Julian Moore-Cook (he/him) plays James; Emma Pallant (she/her) plays Sally-Ann; and LJ Parkinson (they/them) plays Charley Parkhurst. The role of Kid will be shared by Robert Addi (he/him), Aiden Cole (he/him) and Alastair Ngwenya (he/him).
Vinnie Heaven makes their RSC debut as Jack. Vinnie is an actor and writer. Their acting credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare’s Globe), The Misfortune of the English (Orange Tree Theatre) and, on screen, The Nevers (HBO). Their writing credits include FAUN and She’s A Good Boy.
Also making their RSC debuts are Sophie Melville as Miss Lillian, Lucy McCormick as Jayne, and LJ Parkinson as Charley Parkhurst.