Vinnie Heaven’s Daring New Take on Queer Inhibition, Trans Homelessness, and Found Family
Commissioned by the UK’s leading theatre organization fighting homelessness, inequity, and poverty, Vinnie Heaven’s new play Faun explores the housing crisis affecting trans people across the UK. As Heaven’s third play following the semi-autobiographical She’s a Good Boy and the family-oriented Charmane, Faun finds the perfect medium for Heaven’s surreal and heartfelt tone.
Meet Ace (they/he), the charming and somewhat unlucky 22-year-old protagonist at the heart of Vinnie Heaven’s latest creation, Faun.Faun was commissioned by Cardboard Citizens, the UK’s first theatre company to foreground homeless talent and the leading practitioner of Augusto Boal’s Forum Theatre and Theatre of the Oppressed pedagogies. Skilfully directed by Debbie Hannan (they/them), Faun is a tender, defiant, and captivating new play that delves into the intricate experiences of trans and queer homelessness with a delightful blend of humor and compassion.
a profound journey of self-discovery and self-love
Heaven’s story begins with Ace emerging from an IKEA bag, sporting a tiny pair of budding antler nubs. They recount their journey through the world of couch-surfing while generously dispensing advice to fellow members of the queer community in need, all while emphasizing the importance of showering their hosts with overwhelming gratitude. They emphasize the fact that “[t]hey want gratitude from us, so excessive gratitude must be provided” and lay out their plan of obsequity.
Faun not only sheds light on the hazards of compromising one’s safety and authenticity by relying on distant relatives, temporary friends, and acquaintances for shelter during times of need; it also exposes the perils of living life to meet others’ expectations. As Ace bounces from one sofa to another, they gradually diminish themselves, sinking deeper into self-abasement rituals they believe are necessary to please their hosts—and gaining some uncanny caprine features with every degradation. As Ace’s situation becomes increasingly dire, and as they shrink into themselves inch by inch, their only escape from this newly adopted fawn-like existence is a profound journey of self-discovery and self-love—and perhaps even a sprinkle of enchantment from a magical queer forest.
Rather than merely leaning on its diverse composition, Faun courageously confronts Ace’s challenges from behind the scenes to on the stage.
What sets Faun apart is its commitment to addressing Ace’s struggles with unbridled enthusiasm, campiness, and irreverence that can only be fully appreciated by a queer cast, crew, and audience. Rather than merely leaning on its diverse composition, Faun courageously confronts Ace’s challenges from behind the scenes to on the stage. In fact, the connection between the cast and the characters they portray is larger than life. Aitch Wylie (they/them/he), Nyah Randon (she/they), and Afton Moran (they/them) bring an abundance of authenticity and joy to their roles, immersing the audience in their unique dreams, trials, and triumphs. By the end of the performance, we feel intimately acquainted with these characters, having shared their struggles, growth, and hopes, and we can’t help but wish for more.
always delivered with an invisible prod, a wink, or a nod while simultaneously delving into deeper truths behind trans displacement and homelessness
Finding a show as consistently driven by queer purpose and aesthetics as FAUN is quite a challenge. From the intuitive understanding of the show’s nuanced yet playful spirit by its actors to the exuberant choreography by Chi-San Howard (she/her), the inclusive production design by Jacob Lucy (he/him), and the flawless coordination of lighting and sound by Laura Howard (she/they) and Mwen, Faun exemplifies thematic coherence. Vinnie Heaven’s writing is witty and clever from page to stage, always delivered with an invisible prod, a wink, or a nod while simultaneously delving into deeper truths behind trans displacement and homelessness. In a time when reboots and remakes abound, FAUN stands as a testament to the enduring value of original storytelling, consistently inspiring and captivating its audience and serving its community all along the way.