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Please Do Not Touch Cast & Creatives

World premiere of new play Please Do Not Touch from former Birmingham Poet Laureate Casey Bailey, will be directed by award-winning theatremaker Gail Babb, and star Tijan Sarr.

Creative Director Corey Campbell, interim CEO Neil Murray, and the whole team at the Belgrade are delighted to be co-producing with China Plate on the world premiere of Please Do Not Touch which will run from 11 – 21 Sept at Belgrade Theatre, with a press night on Fri 13 Sept at 7pm.

“They will tell you that legal and illegal are the same as right and wrong. And I’ve told you that you only have to sit still for a moment and watch the pieces move to see what a lie that is.”

Written by former Birmingham Poet Laureate Casey Bailey (GrimeBoy, Birmingham Rep) and directed by award-winning theatre maker, Gail Babb (Stars, Tamasha – OFFIE’S Best New Play 2024), Please Do Not Touch is an evolution of Bailey’s 2021 poetry collection of the same name and follows Mason, a social justice TikToker, who spends his spare time in heritage houses examining the artefacts that exist there and uncovering the truth behind their origin stories.

An incident with the Somali Afro comb, finds Mason in a Young Offender Institution. He has always been able to talk his way out of stuff, but now Mason must navigate how to keep speaking up when everything is designed to silence him.

Tijan Sarr (he/him) will play ‘Mason’. Tijan previously collaborated with Casey Bailey on Grimeboy at the Birmingham Rep. Other credits include Boys Who Cry, as well as three brand new plays under the Sky Comedy Scheme. TV work includes Doctors for the BBC, Shadow & Bone for Netflix and most recently a lead role on all episodes of The Marlow Murder Club (Series 1 & 2) opposite Samantha Bond and Jo Martin.

Paul Warwick, Co-Artistic Director of China Plate explains, “This project gives us an opportunity to work with one of Birmingham’s most talented writers, something we’ve been keen to do ever since we saw an early extract of Please Do Not Touch at our Bite Size Festival in 2022. When Jade Samuels brought the project to us for further development, it felt like a perfect fit. The show’s themes of social justice and struggle resonate strongly with us, with our partners, and with the amazing creative team working on the production.

Co-producing with the Belgrade Theatre, working alongside that organisation’s inspiring new leadership team and their dedicated staff, is also a fantastic opportunity. Both our organisations foreground co-creation in the way that we make work. On this show, for example, we have developed the piece alongside staff and volunteers from the Heritage Sector, prison inmates and through a number of workshops with young people attending the incredible Free@Last centre in Nechells.”

Belgrade Theatre Creative Director Corey Campbell said, “This show asks really important questions about colonial legacy, contested heritage and how stories are told, whilst shining a light on the criminal justice system – we’re thrilled to be working on it with China Plate.”

China Plate invited the National Trust, along with other organisations, to participate in the research and development phase of the play.  The National Trust aims to present the fullest possible history of the places and collections in its care, and this collaboration provided an opportunity for staff and volunteers from a number of National Trust properties in the Midlands to work with writers, artists and the wider production team on the play. While the play is a work of fiction, this collaborative, inclusive and research-based production allows audiences to explore the idea of the country house and its collection, through a different lens.

Another collaborator on the project is Geese Theatre Company, a team of theatre practitioners who specialise in working in the Criminal Justice System. Established in 1987 and based in Birmingham, they work internationally in prisons, secure forensic hospitals, and in community settings with people with lived experience of criminal justice. The team at Geese will facilitate performances of Please Do Not Touch and workshops with prison inmates.

Andy Watson, CEO and Artistic Director of Geese Theatre added, “We are thrilled to be collaborating with China Plate and the Belgrade on Please Do Not Touch. As the themes of the play explore the experience of incarceration it feels vital to provide people who are currently serving prison sentences an opportunity to see and reflect on the piece.”

Please Do Not Touch will be directed by Gail Babb (she/they), design by Miriam Nabarro (she/her) with sound design by Kayodeine (she/they), lighting design by Gillian Tan (she/her), movement direction by Keiren Hamilton-Amos (he/him), with dramaturgy by Yaël Shavit (she/her) and with Jade Samuels (she/her) as Associate Producer.

Opening at the Belgrade Weds 11 – Sat 21 Sept 2024, tickets available here.