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Tamasha & ICA announce cast for UK Tour of STARS

Tamasha and ICA announces the cast for Mojisola Adebayo’s STARS: an Afrofuturist Space Odyssey.

Debra Michaels (Strange Fruit, Bush Theatre) will lead the company as Mrs, an older woman who goes into outer space in search of her own orgasm, alongside actor, dancer, and DJ, Bradley Charles (Sylvia, Old Vic) as her son and DJ, Michael Manners. All other roles are played by Debra.

STARS is created by Alfred Fagon Award 2021 winner and George Devine Award 2022 finalist Mojisola Adebayo, directed by Gail Babb and S. Ama Wray, with animations by artist Candice Purwin, and music direction by producer Debo Adebayo.

Moving, funny, and joyful, STARS is told through one woman, a live DJ, and projected animation. With creative captioning by Stephen Lloyd, it is accessible to all. Presented as a ‘concept album on stage’ STARS transforms into a celebratory club night after the shows on 22 + 29 April, with multiple guest DJs and characters from the show. 

Mrs is an old lady who goes into outer space in search of her own orgasm. Her quest is sparked by three encounters: a young neighbour who discloses a secret; an old friend who reveals she is intersex; and a would-be lesbian lover in a launderette who offers Mrs two drops of her own pressed lavender and a smile that says ‘I handle delicates with care’.

STARS is the latest play by Mojisola Adebayo, whose previous work includes Nothello, Muhammad Ali and Me, I Stand Corrected and Moj Of The Antarctic. A UK tour of her play Family Tree (winner of the Alfred Fagon Award), produced by ATC coincides with STARS.

The idea for STARS was conceived during a writing retreat with Idle Women on a canal boat in Lancashire, where Mojisola first met artist Candice Purwin – who animates the show. Crucial to its development was the support of FORWARD (an African women-led organisation working to end violence against girls and women), with intersex activists including Del LaGrace Volcano and Valentino Vecchietti, and with women in Accrington with whom she shared workshops on the power of pleasure. The concept of the show was further developed with producer and DJ Debo Adebayo, who has mixed the music that will be played on stage by the live DJ.

Mojisola Adebayo:

Where did my lost orgasm go… Outer space?! It’s a tough question for me even after years of therapy, which set me on course to creating STARS. As I developed the play, I realised how many people struggle with sex and how millions of women all over the world are cut off from the possibility of pleasure because they go through traditional harmful surgeries as girls. Connecting with FORWARD and intersex activists, I reflected on the shared roots of FGM and non-consensual surgeries faced by intersex children (including in Britain) – two issues rarely talked about on the same page. I also ran workshops on the power of pleasure and out came this magical play. With amazing drawings from Candice Purwin and a live DJ throughout, the show climaxes in a fantastic Afrofuturist club night - the earth moves at last… I see STARS! I can’t wait to share this with audiences.

Pooja Ghai, Artistic Director of Tamasha:

"Tamasha is a home for our Global Majority artists to explore their voices and nurture their forms of artistic expression. In celebration of this, we are delighted to present the world premiere of Mojisola Adebayo’s STARS. Mojisola is an outstanding artist who has been inspiring and challenging perceptions of African diasporic histories through her work. Experimental in form, STARS is bold - in its fusion of music, 'Afriquia' theatre and animation, in its exploration of LGBTQI+ themes, and in its celebration of African mythology and folklore. Tamasha is excited to come together with the ICA in this collaboration to present a unique ‘concept album on stage’ and we look forward to sharing this afrofuturist space odyssey with audiences.’"

STARS is touring the UK and will be in Birmingham from Tuesday 30 May - Saturday 3 June at The Old Rep Theatre. Tickets available to purchase here, or contact the Box Office team on 0121 359 9444*

*Line opening times apply