Who Are Imagine If?
Chesca Joy – Founder & Artistic Director
Chesca is the founder and Artistic Director of Imagine If Theatre as well as an actor, writer and producer. Chesca founded Imagine If in 2014 and has grown the company from its initial inception to a fully operational theatre company & registered charity raising over £100,000 in funds. She trained as an actor and began writing and touring her own stand-up comedy sets in 2012, which led to a real passion for all styles of writing. She began script writing the following year in 2013, after securing a place on the West Yorkshire Playhouse’s writing course. Since then Chesca has written an array of short plays and short films, as well as taking Displaced through an R&D stage and carrying out two years of research for You Forgot the Mince before completing the full length play and embarking You Forgot the Mince on its UK tour in 2016 to Theatres and Prisons across the UK. Through Chesca’s working class roots, exposure to the care system and abuse on her doorstep, she uses her first-hand experience to inform the excellent theatre Imagine If creates and she is passionate about working with those underrepresented in the arts.
Deborah Dickinson – Producer
Deborah is a freelance Creative Theatre Producer and works part-time as Associate Producer at the Octagon Bolton. She has 20 years of experience in production including management of large-scale projects and budgets. Deborah has worked for a number of theatre companies including Full Body and the Voice (now Dark Horse), a theatre company for adults with learning difficulties where she produced five national touring shows. She joined Freedom Studios in 2009 as Creative Producer and took over as Chief Executive in 2011, producing a range of ambitious and exciting large scale, site specific theatre events for the company. Deborah has also worked as a television researcher and producer on one-off documentaries, drama and series at the BBC and as a freelancer. She had her own production company Foxy Films whilst living in France which specialised in documentaries about warfare.
Taj Atwal – Associate Artist
Taj Atwal is an actress best known for her role as Jasmin in Kay Mellor’s hit comedy drama ‘In the Club’ for BBC1, and Jasminder in Ruth Jones BAFTA winning ‘Stella’ for SKY1. She has just completed playing the title role in Educating Rita and will soon appear in Paul Abotts award winning ‘No Offence’ for Channel 4. Taj is delighted to be collaborating with Francesca Joy on ‘Displaced’ – a story based on their own personal experiences in the supported housing system for 16 – 25 year olds.
Anne Danby – Drama Practitioner
Anne has over fifteen years experience working as a freelance Facilitator, Performer, Writer and Director and has worked in a variety of theatre, community, education and corporate settings. Having started out as an actor, Anne found herself becoming increasingly focused on developing and delivering drama based participatory projects in community settings. This led her to undertaking an MA in Applied Theatre at The University of Manchester and specialising in working within the Criminal Justice System. Anne is the founder member of Look Both Ways, an arts organisation that uses theatre as a tool to engage, inspire and empower vulnerable or disaffected people of all ages. She works with Imagine If as a freelance facilitator and also currently teaches applied theatre and facilitation modules on the Leeds City College BA Hons in Performance Practice. Underlying all of Anne’s work is the belief in the possibility of individual change and the potential or capacity that every person has to take responsibility for their life and the decisions and choices they make.
Tamsin Cook – Drama Practitioner
Tamsin is a freelance Workshop Facilitator, Theatre Director and Performer. Previous Work spans across diverse community groups including veterans, homeless young men, unemployed people and women with refugee/asylum seeking status. Most recently Tamsin spent time in prisons and youth detention centres in Santiago, Chile. Whilst there she worked with offenders to facilitate drama sessions based on civic participation; devise material for a new show based on parentification; and create drama through storytelling for a peer performance. Experienced in site based performance; whether directing in tiny rooms of a former train station, for projects which span a whole city or an office block, Tamsin relishes the opportunities and challenges of transforming familiar spaces to present new writing or devised performance.
Hannah Tookey – Trustee
Hannah is a freelance theatre and film producer focused on making work that tackles social and political issues. In 2016, she was awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship to travel to the USA and India to research how the arts can effectively combat and raise awareness about issues of social injustice. She is an alumni of The Clore Emerging Leaders course, Stage One, and Raindance. Theatre credits include: Dry Land (Jermyn Street Theatre, Damsel Productions); All The Little Lights (UK Tour, Fifth Word); Eggs (Vault Festival, Orphee Productions) and Astronauts of Hartlepool (Vault Festival, Tim Foley). Film credits include: Broken Meats (Robin Linde Productions); and the London Calling funded short Wargames (working title).
Susan Burns – Trustee
Susan Burns is the CEO/Creative Producer of Chol Theatre, which specialises in cultural education and community theatre projects. She has worked for the Arvon Foundation, Short Stay Young Homeless Project, Alone in London Service and the National Association of Writers in Education. She has an MA in Writing from Sheffield Hallam and a degree in English and History from Leeds University. Originally from Liverpool, she now lives in Hebden Bridge.
Andrew Salthouse – Trustee
Andrew has had a long career in financial services both customer facing and back office. He holds qualifications in Banking from the Institute of Financial Services and in Project Management from Prince2. Whilst principally running his Business Support Consultancy, Andrew also works regularly as a Supporting Artist for Film and TV. Having always had a passion for performing arts and also a strong sense of social justice, being a Trustee of Imagine if Theatre represents a perfect meeting of the two things close to his heart.
Kate Horsfield – Arts Administrator
Kate is an experienced administrator having just completed 17 years working for the Civil Service. Having previously worked in administration and Front of House roles with Interplay theatre, the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Impact Community theatre and most recently Leeds Light Night, Kate wishes to refresh her skills and experience and return to working in the arts. Kate has a BA (Hons) in Humanities/Social Studies from Manchester Polytechnic and an MA in Arts Administration from Anglia Ruskin University and is keen to combine her interests in the arts and social issues in her role with Imagine If. In her spare time, Kate enjoys going to see a range of theatre productions, tap dancing and spending time with her husband, two daughters and two cats.
Hannah Ryder – Volunteer Marketing and Engagement Officer
Hannah has recently graduated from University of Leeds with a degree in Communications and Media, where she spent most of her time in the theatre learning stage management and lighting design. A self-confessed theatre lover, Hannah has undertaken work placements with The Corner Shop PR, ZOO Venues, and spent the summer working for The Pleasance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Having spent the last four months working for a charity which supports vulnerable women in Leeds, she wants to combine her love of theatre with her desire to make a difference in the world. She’s looking forward to seeing the positive benefits theatre can have on the wider community, as well as learning the necessary skills to one day set up her own theatre company.
Jessie Billows- Placement Student
Jessie is currently studying for an MA in Drama and Creative Writing in Education after graduating from her Education Studies undergraduate degree in 2017. She has experience working in both primary and secondary school settings and loves working with children. As part of her degree Jessie has most recently undertaken a work placement with The Blah Blah Blah Theatre Company acting as a researcher as part of their Made to Measure programme. She also works part time as a freelance Workshop Facilitator with Meraki Creative Hub helping to deliver drama based workshops that encourage active learning for 5-11 year olds. While working with Imagine If Jessie will be doing research for her dissertation based on the employability of offenders whilst also gaining some administrative skills. Jessie is excited to work with Imagine If because they aren’t afraid to explore real issues in creative ways, giving room for discussions that might not usually be had.