New TERF play takes on JK Rowling at Edinburgh Fringe Festival

New TERF play takes on JK Rowling at Edinburgh Fringe Festival

TERF, a new one-act play set to premiere at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe on August 2, has become one of the most talked-about plays at the festival this year.

The play focuses on JK Rowling, the billionaire creator of the Harry Potter universe and the most vocal celebrity advocate of the gender-critical movement, which seeks to ban transgender women from women-only spaces and services.

The controversy comes at a bad time for Warner Bros. Discovery, where a big-budget Harry Potter series is currently in development at HBO, with Rowling attached to produce.

The Potter series is one of Warner Bros.’ most profitable and beloved franchises, with assets including the original films, the Fantastic Beasts spin-offs, multiple theme parks, studio tours where revenue alone has exceeded $1 billion, video games, retail stores and merchandise.

TERF was written by American playwright and screenwriter Joshua Kaplan, who most recently worked on Max’s Tokyo Vice. (Max is the future streaming home of the Harry Potter TV series.)

The play’s creative team insists the production is not a success and has asked Rowling to appear in the show — which Kaplan insists is a genuine invitation and not an attempt at “trolling,” in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

“There’s a kind of impulse in me to take a word that people are using in a derogatory way and throw it in their face,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan began working on the script in late 2020, not long after Rowling began expressing transphobic views on social media. Following backlash, including from the three stars of the Harry Potter films — Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint — Kaplan began envisioning “a conversation” between them.

“The premise is that Daniel, Emma and Rupert stage an intervention,” Kaplan told THR. “There are then interspersed flashback scenes that serve to explain how Rowling developed her rigid views on gender.”

The role of JK Rowling will be played by London-based actress Laura Kay Bailey.

Earlier this year, JK Rowling said in a post on X (formerly Twitter) that she would not forgive Daniel Radcliffe for his support of the transgender community.

In response to a post from a sympathetic commenter who wrote, “Just waiting for Dan and Emma to give you a very public apology… confident that you’ll forgive them…” Rowling responded, “Not confident, I’m afraid. Celebrities who have cozied up to a movement intent on eroding women’s hard-won rights and who have used their platforms to cheer on minors transitioning can save their apologies for traumatized detransitioners and vulnerable women who rely on single-sex spaces.”