Heather and Billy land top roles in Noughts and Crosses
27 January 2019
Reporter: Steve Orme
Heather Agyepong and Billy Harris fought off competition from hundreds of people to secure the parts of Sephy and Callum in Noughts and Crosses, the stage adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s young adult novel which is to open at Derby Theatre.
It will be directed by Pilot Theatre’s artistic director Esther Richardson who said, “we were amazed and honoured to receive more than 400 audition videos from those who wanted to put themselves forward for the roles of Sephy and Callum.
“It was like receiving a 33-hour digital love letter to the original book. We had videos from everyone from teenagers who’d never done any performing before to established actors, and many people in between.
“By working in this way, we were able to consider far more actors than would have otherwise been possible. We wanted to find fresh talent and authenticity, and we’ve been brought into contact with some extraordinary young actors who were completely unknown to us. We’re thrilled that Heather and Billy are taking on the roles of Sephy and Callum.”
Sabrina Mahfouz’s adaptation is the first co-production between Pilot Theatre, Derby Theatre, Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre, Mercury Theatre, Colchester and York Theatre Royal who have formed a partnership to develop theatre for younger audiences.
Told from the perspectives of the two teenagers, Noughts and Crosses is a “captivating love story set in a volatile, racially segregated society and explores the powerful themes of love, revolution and what it means to grow up in a divided world”.
Agyepong played Haleema in Theresa Ikoko’s Girls, a Talawa Theatre, High Tide and Martha Rose Wilson production in 2017. She was nominated for the 2018 South Bank Sky Arts breakthrough award. Noughts and Crosses will be Harris’s first major role.
Noughts and Crosses will open at Derby Theatre from Friday 1 until Saturday 16 February and will then tour to Theatr Clwyd Mold, The Lowry Salford, Mercury Theatre, Colchester, Bristol Old Vic, Brighton Theatre Royal, Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre, York Theatre Royal, Theatre Royal Stratford East and Northern Stage until 11 May.