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  • Writer's pictureHinton Magazine

Edinburgh Fringe Fest - Wasteman

Based on writer Joe Leather's real-life experiences working as a Refuse Loader during lockdown, Wasteman is a one-person comedic play and a love letter to both hard-working Northerners and gender euphoria through monologue, music, and drag.

We spoke to Joe Leather, writer and performer of Wasteman, about taking the show to Edinburgh Fringe!

Tell us a bit about your show

The show is called Wasteman. It's the story of a Northern bin-man who dreams of being a drag queen and winning the 'Miss Stoke' pageant. It's an hour-long comedy/drama that combines song, monologue, fabulous outfits and at least one wheelie bin, to create a raucous but heart-felt tribute to hard-working Northerners and gender euphoria. The show's audience will laugh, cry and leave feeling like they could take on the world (or just take out the bins) in eight-inch heels!

How much of Wasteman is based off real life experiences?

Over lockdown I got a job as a refuse loader, and spent my evenings performing drag shows on Zoom, so in that respect it's very true to life. I was also born in Bolton, and the show is a great chance to return to my Northern roots. The piece explores some of the difficulties of the queer experience, focusing on themes such as internalised homophobia, violence and the loss of a friend. Ultimately, all our lives have moments of light and shade, but the darkness does not define us, a lesson I've learned through my own experience as a queer human being.

What’s the most challenging thing about doing a solo show?

As a performer, you're used to having other actors on stage to bounce off of. In a one-person show, you lose that, but that's also the joy of it. Your scene partners become the audience, and the potential for connection is limitless. Also, no show is ever truly 'solo'. I'm really fortunate to have had input from some amazing artists in terms of sound design, lighting, direction... you might only see a single performer on stage, but it really takes a village. (My Dad even made some of the set!)

What’s your favourite thing about drag?

It's the only time in my life I'll ever be taller than 5'10" which is pretty thrilling. Seriously, though, drag is SO empowering. It's a chance to completely subvert all the expectations that society has put on you. It's liberating. It's rebellious. It can change people's lives. It's definitely changed mine! I think everybody should try it!

You’ve headed to Edinburgh Fringe before, any tips for newbies?

My big advice is to hold on to the reasons why you're there in the first place. It's so easy to get caught up in all the logistics of Edinburgh, and forget to have fun. Find the joy, play, explore...and take Vicks First Defence the second you start feeling a twinge of Fringe Flu!

Wasteman will be performed at Assembly George Square Studios 4-28 August at 6pm. Tickets and more information here!


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