Wasteman – Joe Leather’s comedy play based on the life story of a drag queen bin man

Based on writer Joe Leather’s real-life experiences working as a Refuse Loader during lockdown, this one-person comedic play is a love letter to both hard-working Northerners and gender euphoria through monologue, music, and drag. During the pandemic, Joe applied for every job available; when the jewellery shop where he was supposed to work closed on the day he was meant to start, he realised that what would not be halted due to lockdown was refuse collection. Around the same time, he turned his experience as a performer into a drag persona to amuse his friends on Zoom. And so, his journey from bin man to drag queen began. Following a sell-out run and an Offie nomination for ‘Best Show at Camden Fringe’ 2022, Wasteman returns this February for a VAULT Festival debut.

From stacking up the wheelie bins to entering a drag contest in his quest to be named ‘Miss Stoke’, a bin man swaps steel-toed boots for stilettos to chase his dream of being a drag queen. Living in a small Northern town with his anti-woke boyfriend, the plot begins as their relationship ends. As he makes something fabulous in the most un-fabulous of situations, expect triple threat talent, dramatic flair, and stiff hamstrings while he prepares for the competition in just four weeks. There are no limits to what he will do for the crown, from wearing fishnet tights under his uniform, to practicing the splits on his lunch break.

Joe Leather said “As a young person born in Bolton, I didn’t get to see any stories about where I was from. And as a young queer person from a land far beyond Greater London, stories about towns and lives like mine were non-existent. For this reason, I am over the moon to be bringing Wasteman back to London and the VAULT Festival. I believe that stories about gender expression are particularly necessary in the current climate and wrote the majority of the play while working as a council bin-man in lockdown. The piece fuses my passions for monologue, character-comedy, drag, musical theatre, and unusual day jobs. I hope it will send a message to LGBTQIA+ and working-class people from all over the country that their stories deserve to be told too.”

Joe Leather (he/they) is an Offie-nominated writer and performer. Acting credits include Jersey Boys (International Tour), Oklahoma! (Gordon Craig) and Sleep No More (Punchdrunk, Shanghai). TV credits include Britain’s Got Talent and The Last Leg. Their previous musical, The Lost Works of Willy Shakes was one of the Telegraph’s ’20 Must-see Shows of the Edinburgh Fringe 2019′. Joe has also provided script and lyrics to touring UK Drag Show Queenz.

Written by Joe Leather | Directed by Kat Bond
VAULT Festival, Pit, 14 – 16 February 2023, 20:00

Running Time: 60 mins | Suitable for ages 15