NOUGHTS & Crosses follows two young people, Sephy and Callum, who are divided by their colour but united by love.

Sephy is a ‘Cross’, a member of the black ruling class and daughter of a prominent politician. Callum is a ‘Nought’, a white member of the underclass.

The two have been friends since early childhood but their relationship grows ever more complicated as they come of age. It’s the story of two families separated by power and prejudice, but forever entwined by fate.

Voted as one of the UK’s best-loved books, Noughts & Crosses is a seminal piece of young adult fiction; a true modern classic which has won the Red House Children’s Book Award and the Fantastic Fiction Award among other accolades.

The author, Malorie Blackman OBE, was the Children’s Laureate from 2013 to 2015 and also recently wrote for the new series of Doctor Who.

“That’s the earliest performance I’ve ever done!” laughs actor Billy Harris, who has been cast as Callum in an exciting new adaptation of Noughts & Crosses which comes to Theatr Clwyd next week, and answers the phone immediately after coming off stage. “With all the performances for schools we have pretty early starts but luckily I’ve got the rest of the day off, so I’m all yours!”

Told from the perspectives of two teenagers, Noughts & Crosses is described as ‘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’.

“Callum is gifted and talented but not allowed to go to the good schools,” explains Billy, 24. “Throughout the play you see the walls being put up to block him achieving what he wants to achieve.

“I was familiar with the books at school and I remember them being in the library but I didn’t know how popular they were.

“When I was cast as Callum there was stuff all over Twitter and Instagram and it was amazing.

“It reaches so many people and there is a massive fanbase for the book which is also now on the school syllabus, so it is very important for youngsters.”

Playing what is such an iconic role for teenagers undoubtedly puts pressure on Billy, especially as this is his first big casting after leaving drama school.

“This is the first thing I’ve got and it’s a lead so it is daunting,” he agrees. “I got cast months ago, so I guess the pressure and seeing everything on Twitter has allowed me to get used to.

“I’m also in a cast with a lot of seasoned actors who have worked a lot and they’re guiding me through it by telling stories of their first roles, so I’m in really good company.”

Noughts & Crosses will be the first co-production between Pilot Theatre, Derby Theatre, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Mercury Theatre, Colchester and York Theatre Royal who have recently formed a new partnership to develop theatre for younger audiences.

From 2019-2022 the consortium will commission and co-produce an original mid-scale production each year. Each production will play in all the consortium venues as well as touring nationally.

“It’s an interesting story and there’s a lot of lessons to be learnt from it,” says Billy. “I’ve been learning so much along the way.

“Malorie, the writer, said something really interesting about how it was sad that this book was still so relevant. She wrote it a good few years ago but it’s all still happening.”

Billy, who is originally from Rochford in Essex, started acting when he was a teenager at school, before attending Bristol Old Vic theatre school.

“I graduated about 18 months ago and I’ve done a few odd jobs realising what it’s like to be an actor,” he says. “It’s difficult at times but now I’ve landed this role and we’re going on a great big tour.

“We’re going to a lot of places and I’ve got an actor friend who is Welsh and he was like ‘Wow! You’re going to Clywd?!’ It has a lot of history and is a really prestigious place - I think it will be the first realisation for me that I’m really on tour.”

As for the future, Billy is keeping his options open but having already had a small taste of TV he is hoping to get more.

“I’ve done a few commercials and I enjoyed those,” he adds. “I also got one line in Vanity Fair on ITV but it was real blink and you’ll miss it stuff, so anything I can get will be most welcome.”

Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman and adapted by Sabrina Mahfouz is at Theatr Clwyd from Tuesday, February 19 to Saturday, February 23. Box office 01352 701521 or