The Boys Are Kissing
Written by Zak Zarafshan
Directed by Lisa Spirling
This is the event page for the IN-PERSON PERFORMANCE of THE BOYS ARE KISSING. For the digital stream event page, please click here.
When two 9-year-old boys kiss in the school playground of a small town, two sets of parents are told to ‘do something about it’ – but neither of them are entirely sure what.
Amira is sending inclusive children’s books to the school library, whilst her wife Chloe dreams of a kitchen island. Sarah is trying her best not to upset the Mum WhatsApp group, and her husband Matt just really wants to do the right thing – as soon as he can work out what that is. Luckily, here to guide our helpless humans are two cherubic winged guardians of the gays, summonsed to attend to a disturbance in the queer atmos and intervene only where strictly necessary… but where’s the fun in being an ethereal being if you can’t drop in and cause a scene wearing latex?
A riotous comedy about angelic intervention, children’s birthday parties gone sour, and whether it ever really is “just about the children”, THE BOYS ARE KISSING is written by 503Five 2019-20 alumni Zak Zarafshan, and directed by Theatre503’s Artistic Director, Lisa Spirling.
Running time: 2 hours 15 mins (including an interval)
Age guidance: 14+
Content information: This show contains themes that some audience members may find distressing. If this sounds like it could apply to you, you can view Content Information here or the full Care Pack here.
Saturday matinee performances are Pay What You Choose, and there are six £6 tickets on offer in the front row for every show after Previews.
17 January 7.30pm WRITERS NIGHT: A chance for writers to enjoy a discounted ticket and meet our literary department and the writer of the show. There will be an informal Q&A in the foyer from 6:50pm-7:20pm with the writer of the play and our literary department. Attendees to Writers Night are invited to submit for our Rapid Write Response initiative. To unlock a £6 ticket, email firstname.lastname@example.org to be digitally tagged as a writer. If you have previously been tagged as a writer, your ticket will automatically adjust to £6 on the final page of booking – you do not need a Promo Code. If you are unable to attend our Writers Night, the £6 tickets will also be available up until Saturday 21st. There will also be a Zoom session with Zak Zarafshan, writer of the play on Wednesday 11th January at 7pm, followed by a drop-in on Zoom with our Literary Manager, Steve Harper from 8pm. Please register your attendance for this here.
31 January 12pm PARENT & BABY: Provided as an opportunity for parents and/or guardians to enjoy a spot of theatre without the need to hire a babysitter. Please note, we do not exclude other audience members from booking to see this performance.
1 February POST-SHOW EVENT: Playground Politics – Navigating the school system as an LGBTQ+ parent. Join Matt Hemley (Deputy Editor at The Stage) and Charlotte Butler (Founder & Managing Director of Altogether Different) as they lead a discussion on LGBTQ+ parenting and the school system, and how THE BOYS ARE KISSING opens up conversations around this topic. Admission FREE with a ticket to the evening performance.
3rd February 7:30pm FILMED PERFORMANCE: This performance will be filmed – there will be three cameras in the auditorium and the audience will be at reduced capacity. Only the back of audience members’ heads will be in shot. If you have any questions or issues, please email email@example.com
Zak Zarafshan is a British-Iranian playwright and screenwriter from the East Midlands, based in London. His debut play, THE BOYS ARE KISSING, was developed as part of Theatre503’s Writers In Residence scheme, the 503Five. He was previously a part of the Soho Theatre Writers Lab, Tamasha Playwrights Group, and was shortlisted for Channel 4’s 4Stories scheme. Alongside writing, he works in television drama, helping other writers develop original dramas for the screen.
An Interview with Zak Zarafshan
Posted on 5 January 2023
What inspired you to write the play?
It’s very much a response to the increasingly binary times we’re living in but the initial idea came from the protests against LGBTQ+ education in primary schools. There’s so much moral panic masquerading as concern for children’s safety, it's rarely about the children but people fear what they don’t know or understand. I wanted to explore that but without demonising anyone in particular. Dramatically, there was something very seductive about a story that centred around two children… Nothing makes people behave more irrationally than their children and irrational behaviour is usually quite entertaining.
What is your favourite moment in the play?
There’s an entrance from two characters that devolves into complete mayhem. It’s the first time all six characters are on stage together at the same time, it’s high-camp chaos and it has been euphoric to watch come together in the rehearsal room. I can’t say anymore without spoiling it.
Why should people come and see the play?
While there’s ultimately an important message about how we treat each other, the play approaches everything with a sense of humour. I hope as much as anything we’re giving people a riotously fun night out at the theatre… The whole team and cast are so talented, they haven’t pulled any punches and have elevated my words beyond my wildest dreams.
Who will really resonate with this play?
I hope all sorts of people can identify with what the play’s exploring about where society is and how we overcome our differences with one another, but there’s definitely a little extra sugar and spice for the queers. The play is unashamedly queer in every sense of the word, and there’s a joy in that which I hope can be appreciated by everyone. We can all relate to the struggle of navigating knotty conversations, feeling like we’re not getting it right, and the frustration and humour in that.
What is your favourite play of all time?
Downstate by Bruce Norris. It stayed with me from the moment I saw it, and I still think about it a lot. It was one of the rare occasions where I was just desperate to get back into the theatre during the interval. I really admire the bravery in tackling a subject matter which is so complex and taboo and being unafraid to challenge an audience. It’s an exceptional feat of storytelling.