Find Us

Controversial new play ‘TERF’ about J.K. Rowling to debut at Edinburgh Fringe Festival

New play ‘TERF’ about J.K. Rowling to debut at Edinburgh Fringe Festival
New play ‘TERF’ about J.K. Rowling to debut at Edinburgh Fringe Festival Copyright - AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis
Copyright - AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis
By David Mouriquand
Published on
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

Accio controversy! ‘TERF’, a new one-act play which is set to premiere next month at the Edinburgh Fringe takes on Rowling and imagines “intervention” between the controversial author and the Harry Potter film stars. The backlash has already begun...


It seems like barely a week goes by without Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling making headlines for some hostile comments aimed at transgender people. And now, a new show coming to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival next month is sure to set tongues wagging. 

The Telegraph has already called it “the most provocative play to hit the Edinburgh Fringe in years.” 

‘TERF’, a new one-act play which is set to premiere on 2 August, has become one of the most talked-about plays heading to the festival this year. 

It’s being put on, rather aptly, by the Civil Disobedience & Theatre of the Existential Void, with the tagline “She had everything... Until it all went to hell in a broombasket.” 

The play – originally supposed to be titled ‘TERF C***’ (ask your parents) - is an international collaboration in support of gender equality. It takes on Rowling, a vocal supporter of the gender-critical movement which seeks to ban transgender women from women-only spaces and services, and depicts an imagined “intervention” between the controversial author and the Harry Potter film stars, who have been publicly critical of Rowling’s views.


TERF is an acronym that stands for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist”, a slur used by transgender activists against gender critics like Rowling, who has dedicated much of her online presence to defending her views while expressing transphobic views.

The show was penned by American playwright and screenwriter Joshua Kaplan, who most recently worked on Max’s Tokyo Vice.  

"There’s some kind of impulse in me to take a word that people are throwing around in a derogatory way and throw it back in their face..." Kaplan told The Hollywood Reporter, who obtained a script of the show. 

“The premise is that Daniel, Emma and Rupert organize an intervention,” he shared. "There are then interspersed flashback scenes that serve to explain how Rowling developed her rigid views about gender." 

“In a lot of ways, the play is a family play,” said Kaplan. “In my mind, the three of them were 11-year-old siblings and Jo [Rowling] was a parental figure. … We all have this kind of Freudian obsession with her.” 

The Fringe run will star Laura Kay Bailey as Rowling, Piers MacKenzie as Daniel, Trelawny Kean as Emma, and Tom Longmire as Rupert. 

In his writer's note on the show's website, Kaplan states: "If you really want to know how I feel about J.K. Rowling and transgender rights and free speech and Twitter and victimization and perpetration and test kitchens and Daniel Radcliffe’s genitals and all the other flotsam floating around my consciousness that wasn’t cut for time or distaste or disinterest, see the play.” 

The play’s creative team insists that the production is not a hit piece and has asked Rowling to attend the show. Kaplan insists it is a genuine invitation and not an attempt at “trolling,” he told THR. 

'TERF' has already been met with backlash both in the UK and in the US, with the social media pages of production staffers flooded with hateful messages and venues in Edinburgh having to be changed due to security fears following online vitriol. The show is currently scheduled to be performed at Assembly Rooms: Ballroom until 25 August.  

It remains to be seen whether JK will get serious and set her team of lawyers on 'TERF'. 


Earlier this year, the author posted on X that she would not forgive Daniel Radcliffe for his support of the transgender community

In response to a post from a supportive commenter who wrote "Just waiting for Dan and Emma to give you a very public apology ... safe in the knowledge that you will forgive them...", Rowling replied: "Not safe, I’m afraid. Celebs who cosied up to a movement intent on eroding women’s hard-won rights and who used their platforms to cheer on the transitioning of minors can save their apologies for traumatised detransitioners and vulnerable women reliant on single sex spaces." 

While Rowling’s continued hateful rhetoric has been disheartening for Harry Potter fans, there is something rather perfect about 'TERF' running in Edinburgh, as Rowling wrote a lot of the books in the Scottish city, which has been a site of pilgrimage for fans.  

Let’s hope the show provides Potheads with some cathartic comfort, and not a further reminder of a stained legacy.  


Additional sources • The Hollywood Reporter

Share this articleComments

You might also like