Fringe venue allegedly threatens to de-platform play about JK Rowling’s trans views ‘due to fear’

Barry Church-Woods (L) play about JK Rowling (R) at this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe continues to face backlash.

An Edinburgh Festival Fringe venue has reportedly threatened to de-platform a play about JK Rowling’s trans views in a move condemned by the producer as “hair-trigger censorship”. 

The play, TERF, is written by Hollywood scriptwriter Joshua Kaplan and tells of a fictionalised intervention for Rowling by the three stars of the hit film series: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint.

TERF, which stands for trans exclusionary radical feminist, is a word used to describe those who exclude the rights of transgender people, particularly trans women, from their women’s rights advocacy.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling in front of trans Pride flag colours
JK Rowling has joked about her role in the play being taken on by a trans journalist. (Getty)

The play’s controversial topic has led to a struggle to finalise casting because of what the creative producer has described as a “vocal misinformed backlash” from the right-wing press.

Now, its planned opening at Saint Stephen’s Theatre has allegedly been opposed by the venue’s owner, Danish ballet dancer Peter Schaufuss, 75.

Barry Church-Woods, who is the founder of live arts company We Are Civil Disobedience, as well as TERF‘s creative producer, told PinkNews that Schaufuss’ decision followed Rowling taking to X/Twitter to poke fun at the production, and float the idea of trans journalist India Willoughby playing her on stage.

You may like to watch

He has been told to find an alternative venue, Church-Woods claimed.

In an email to PinkNews, he said: “It’s looking very likely that our venue for the Edinburgh Fringe is about to remove the show from their programme due to fear.”

“Schaufuss is adamant the show cannot go on. He hasn’t read the script, he doesn’t know the team behind the show, and he hasn’t accepted an invitation to speak with us to explore a way forward,” Church-Woods continued.

“This is hair-trigger censorship in a festival that prides itself on presenting new work. It makes no sense to treat fellow and emerging artists this way.”

Petition launched to ‘protect free speech’

“TERF is not about fostering infighting or capitalising upon distress. It asks that we overcome the conditions of such warfare and step from the theatre into the world together, with a greater openness.

“Our play has now been subjected to the same censorship and stymied thinking which prevents us from having real, meaningful and forward-thinking conversations about how to bridge our differences.” 

Church-Woods is using a petition to appeal to people to “save one  of the most prescient and exciting shows of the 2024 Fringe” in a bid to show venue landlords that “censorship has no play in our community”. 

PinkNews was unable to reach Peter Schaufuss for comment.

Please login or register to comment on this story.