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Kurt Johns - Hello Kitty Must Die Interview

Based on the gripping cult novel, Hello Kitty Must Die will have its world premiere at the Pleasance for the Edinburgh Fringe. From the producers of SIX and The Play That Goes Wrong, this darkly comedic musical mashup is a manifesto of Asian feminism: it’s time to kill the Hello Kitty stereotype because women can be anything they aspire to be – even murderers.

This chilling new show follows Fiona Yu, a high achieving, but highly disillusioned Chinese - American lawyer. Fiona is fed up with the stereotypes forced onto her by a white, patriarchal society – namely that she is the human embodiment of a certain clawless, fangless, voiceless cartoon feline. But she will pay for her own Jimmy Choos and tell anyone who tries to put a damn bow behind her ear to go to Hell.

Through a ruthless combination of sex, violence, and stilettos, Fiona reclaims her anger and takes revenge on the world. She embarks on an unusual journey of self-discovery and creates her own version of the American Dream by eliminating, without fear or remorse, anyone and anything that stands in her way.

Ahead of the Edinburgh Fringe I spoke with co-adaptor Kurt Johns to discuss the piece.

What inspired you to recreate the piece?
I’ve always been attracted to theatre that spotlights underrepresented voices and stories. I was directing Gail, my co-author in a solo play called The Unfortunates by AoiseStratford. We were exchanging “dream projects’ and she told me hers was Hello Kitty Must Die. Just from the name alone I insisted she send me a copy, which she did. I inhaled it overnight. It was dark and funny and kind of Wednesday-Addams-macabre, all things that get me theatrically caffeinated. All the right messages and weirdness. I decided I must bring this to the stage.

How did you approach staging the cult novel?
This is an ensemble piece first and foremost, evolving from its early development as a solo play. Besides the two main characters who remain the same throughout, the ensemble of 3 other kickass actresses play some 18 characters of every size, shape, gender and ethnicity. A real chance to show off the talent/versatility of these extraordinary women. These women are there onstage to bear witness to the story, jump in to enhance the telling of the story, react to it, vote on it, and help it to sing all the while supporting each other in this highly energetic irreverent journey.

How excited are you to be bringing the show to Edinburgh?
Over the moon. This is a world premiere of a project I’ve been developing for several years. I know the wonderful reactions we’ve got in readings so I can’t wait to get this in front of a real audience. It’s gonna be Bloody good fun!

What do you want an audience member to take away from seeing the show?
Besides having a really fun experience at an outrageous and irreverent musical story, the show itself and indeed the performance of it, says that women, but in this case Asian women can be anyone and do anything they aspire to, even murder. And perform 20 different roles between the 5 of them.

Photo by Curtis Brown Photography

What performances/shows have inspired you?
If there was a Quentin Tarantino of the theatre, that would definitely be my inspiration. I think back to outrageous theatrical endeavours I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of at university, like a scandalously outre hip-hopperetta The NOT Mikado. Certainly the feminine ensemble-ness of The Mistress Cycle, which I directed in Chicago. I think of Jerry Springer, the OperaSILENCE; The Musical.

Can you describe the show in 3 words?
Kickass, feminist, hilarious.

Hello Kitty Must Die plays at the Pleasance Courtyard at the 2023 Edinburgh Fringe from 2nd - 27th August. Tickets are available from

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