Romance meets revolution in playwright Charlie Josephine's rollicking Western spectacular. Here's a first glimpse at Vinnie Heaven as gunslinger Jack with Sophie Melville's saloon owner Miss Lillian.

Cowbois is a brand new play, telling the tale of handsome bandit Jack Cannon, whose arrival in a sleepy town sparks a fire of passion within every one of its inhabitants, challenging and changing the course of their lives forever.

Person seated dressed as a cowboy in masculine cowboy clothes with a red shirt and yellow bandanna
Vinnie Heaven as Jack
Photo by Henri T © RSC Browse and license our images


The role of Jack is played by Vinnie Heaven (they/them).

Describe your character in five words: Big heart hidden behind guns 

How do they fit in to the play? They kind of don’t, and that’s kind of beautiful. He encourages the people of the town not to fit in if it doesn’t make them happy, whilst empowering those who do to be even bolder in their fitting in!

What are you looking forward to about the show? It's all singing all dancing in a really cool way – it’s full of movement that is about shifting the shape of your skin rather than necessarily creating structured beauty.

Cowbois is a play about freedom of expression - what does that meant to you? It's a human right and it's essential. It’s an essential part of happiness -  deep rooted happiness. And to deny yourself or to force somebody else to deny it for themselves is obliterating and awful and takes a long time to reverse. You're never told or reminded that there's only ever one of you - genetically there is only ever one of that particular setup of that person, but you're never told that. When you're forming yourself no one says it - nobody reminds you, you don't see it anywhere so you just start to build yourself around other things other pieces that you see and that can diminish your freedom of expression if you aren’t careful. 

Miss Lillian

The role of Miss Lillian is played by Sophie Melville (she/her).

Describe your character in 5 words: Matriarch. Loyal. Contained. Dormant. Fizzing.

How do they fit in to the play? She is the wife of Frank, who owns the Saloon bar. She then takes over that job when he goes away. She is the glue of the town, keeping everyone together and making sure it runs smoothly. 

What are you looking forward to about the show? Just being surrounded by such queer love and joy and doing a play that feels quite risky I think for the RSC and something different that hasn't been seen there before. But ultimately just like a coming together and a celebration of queerness - I'm really looking forward to that. I think I've been preparing for this since 1999 when Shania Twain released her album Come On Over and I told my cousin that I was her Shania Twain's backing dancer and I made her sit down and watch me dance for the whole album - so I've been preparing for 24 years essentially.

Cowbois is a play about freedom of expression - what does that meant to you? It means celebrating our nuances and feeling safe and held and supported to revel in our differences.

Woman dressed in cowboy western style in a blue fringed dress with a red scarf tied at the chest
Sophie Melville as Miss Lillian
Photo by Henri T © RSC Browse and license our images

Cowbois will swagger into Stratford-upon-Avon, taking over the Swan Theatre from 14 October to 18 November. 

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