Passion for the Planet: Creative team

Mahsa Hammat Bahary


Mahsa Hammat BaharyMahsa originally trained at Project A, an intensive acting course at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal. Since graduating, she has appeared as Hobby in Teechers (Gala Theatre, Durham), and as lead role Farida in the regional short film Falling. More recently, she was in a short piece 10 Minutes To… Call Home (Live Theatre).

Mahsa has also performed in several Theatre in Education tours throughout the UK. These performances were aimed at young people aged 12 to 15, and covered topics such as water-consciousness, environment care and awareness of after-school education options such as traineeships and apprenticeships.

When not performing, Mahsa loves getting lost in a good book and is an avid baker and cake decorator.

Paul Batten

Production Manager and Design Consultant

Paul Batten

Paul trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He has since spent many years in the theatre and entertainment industry, working as a production manager and designer for many events, especially large-scale outdoor site-specific productions.

He has also had the opportunity of touring with several different theatre companies and music groups, both nationally and internationally. He further finds time to teach on theatre production courses.

Paul’s extensive career has on numerous occasions over the past 20 years involved working alongside, and in close proximity to, Darren. Despite that, he is delighted to be joining Damn Cheek at Gateshead to create this inspirational site-specific piece!

When not working, Paul enjoys spending time with his daughter, hiking, camping, swimming in the sea, playing music and stroking kittens.

Abby Black

Trainee Director

Abby Black

Abby Black is an actress and writer from Carlisle. She has always been a creative thinker, but didn’t know she wanted to act until she watched her favourite actor Thomas Sangster portray ‘perfectly’ the role of Newt in The Maze Runner trilogy.

Abby began her training at the Stagecoach Performing Arts School and also with The Lakes Choir. She is currently studying at Newcastle College, and after finishing her course, aims to continue on to formal acting training at drama school.

Abby’s theatre experience includes performing in Beauty and the Beast. The show made the Guinness Book of Records as the largest simultaneous performance of one show in multiple locations – Abby was involved in the production at the Symphony Hall Birmingham.

In her spare time, Abby likes to read, write, watch movies, spend time in nature, and listen to her favourite band BTS.

Eloise Kay


Eloise KayEloise Kay is an actress, singer and musician from Lancashire who trained on the Postgraduate Acting course at Drama Studio London, after receiving a BA Hons Music at the University of Cambridge.

Eloise has performed live on ITV and BBC television and radio as well as touring in Morocco, America, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Austria and the UK. She has recorded several CDs with choirs such as Sidney Sussex Chapel Choir and the Hallé Choir.

Previous theatre credits include: Blonde Bombshells of 1943 (Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Hampstead); Mirror Me (The Pleasance, Edinburgh); The Phantom Bantam of the Opera, The Old Curiosity Shop and The Mariner (Common Ground Theatre); The Fenland Screamers (Eastern Angles); and The House of Usher (Hope Theatre, Islington). Eloise has also performed as a jazz vocalist in venues across the UK.

When not performing, Eloise loves collecting and learning to play unusual instruments (the kalimba and otamatone are current favourites), watching videos on YouTube of huskies that don’t want to have baths, and eating truly obscene amounts of dark chocolate.

Laurence Saunders


Laurence SaundersLaurence hates writing biogs. He gave up a thrilling career in biscuit tasting (true) to pursue acting, and he’s very excited to be working with Damn Cheek and the community here in Gateshead. He’s been popping up on the telly every now and then playing Vincent Manning in Doctors (BBC1) and was previously nominated Villain of the Year at the British Soap Awards for his role in that show.

Laurence’s recent theatre appearances include the following. Playing corrupt politician the Right Hon Michael Makerson MP in the interactive multimedia political thriller A Moment of Madness (The Other Way Works) at various festivals around the UK. Delivering his own one-man show Boxed In, which was live-streamed during lockdown (Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton). Appearing in Playing The Game, a verbatim exploration of prison life (Geese Theatre, Birmingham Rep). Performing in the critically acclaimed Lags (BAC Time Out Critics Choice).

Laurence’s TV and radio work includes: Doctor Who; Eastenders; Frankie Boyle’s Tramadol Nights; The Village; Line of Duty; Holby City; The Archers; Silver Street. He also starred in the award-winning Think! Morning After anti-drink-drive campaign, a job he literally had to get drunk to do (true).

When not performing, Laurence loves eating biscuits, hanging out with his family and going for a run.

Izzy Sorby

Early Years Schools Facilitator/Production Husband

Izzy Sorby Izzy is a creative artist from Gateshead, England. They have been involved in collaborative projects from the age of 10, and they have always had a passion for working with communities and creating exciting, unique pieces of work for an audience to enjoy.

Izzy is a founding member of Plant Club Theatre Company, which develops visually stimulating, engaging and thought-provoking work that connects with audiences through light-hearted humour, self-written songs, and a developed sense of irony.

Plant Club focuses on promoting social change by initiating conversations around taboo topics and so questioning the world we live in; the company also offers a sense of calm in an otherwise chaotic world. Plant Club believes in the crucial importance of involving through theatre people from all walks of life – and so makes sure that its art practice is both appealing and accessible to a diverse range of people.

Izzy is also a founding member of the all-female comedy sketch group, Your Aunt Fanny. The Fannies focus on creating outrageous, fabulous, ridiculous, one-of-a-kind sketches which remind you of a night out with your oldest, wildest, filthiest friend – their work is therefore thoroughly inappropriate. Your Aunt Fanny believes that nothing is out of bounds and it encourages the absurd wherever possible.

When not performing, Izzy loves to spend time gardening at their local park and in their own garden. They also love to explore the world as much as possible!

Darren Cheek

Artistic Director

Darren CheekCo-founder and Artistic Director of Damn Cheek, Darren is thrilled to be leading and facilitating the team and artistically directing this project.

Read Darren’s biog

Tony Earnshaw


Tony EarnshawCo-founder and Executive Director of Damn Cheek, Tony is delighted to be writing the final performance script, as well as taking on the role of Executive Director for the project itself.

Read Tony’s biog