Imagine If



“Seeing how leaving supported housing affected them as human beings was quite heartbreaking.”

— Audience Feedback - Carriageworks Theatre

imagine if were successful in securing Arts Council Funding for a research and development phase in 2016 for new play Displaced. It was led by Artistic Director Francesca Joy and supported by producer Deborah Dickinson, Director James Blakey and Co-Writer Taj Atwal.

The story of Displaced was borne back in 2012 out of Taj and Francesca’s first-hand experience of living within supported housing as teenagers and the courage it takes to survive in a world that is alien for some, and normal for others. How Taj and Francesca became not only best friends, but each others mum and dad.

Life wasn’t one big tragedy, it was punctuated with some of the most inspiring, incredible, and more often than not, hilarious moments, with some of the best friends they could have met. Taj and Francesca bonded over their shared experience and quickly began to realise that they had a mutual vision of writing a story that encapsulated all their memories and experiences.

Update – 2018:

Do to Francesca’s and Taj busy schedules, they have not yet taken Displaced to tour. However throughout 2017 and 2018, they have continued to develop the script, characters and storyline together. This included writing a TV treatment for Displaced and meeting with Phillip Shelley of Channel 4 to pitch it. Watch this space!

Displaced is a multi-platform play that tells the story of homeless teens living within the supported housing system.

“The concept of homelessness has broader connotations, for ‘home’ has both physical and psychological meanings” – Homelessness Factfile, 2003, Crisis

Based on Francesca’s and Taj’s real life experience of growing up together in supported housing in York, Displaced follows the lives of two best friends living in the care system, the ridiculous adventures they go on and the heart-breaking trauma they face.

imagine if conducted the first stage of Research & Development held throughout Spring 2016, kindly supported by The Arts Council England. This R&D consisted of research within seven hostels and supported housing units across Yorkshire; meeting, interviewing and leading drama workshops with the current residents, staff and external support team; all who have their own version of the current system. A supported housing hostel comprises of service users aged 16 – 25, support staff, key workers, administration, security and overnight staff. It’s a home unlike any other and we strive to encapsulate that within our play. We want to continue to explore the dynamics within that hostel, and the life and influences of the characters outside the hostel. Following this research, Francesca and Taj spent time working together creating characters, the story and environment that underpinned the initial foundation of Displaced.

Following the research and writing stage, time was then spent with a full creative team at Carriageworks Theatre. There were six professional actors and a director involved unraveling our research and trying out scripted and improvised scenes, playing with characters/ensemble movement, physical relationship dynamics and the development of characters: these included the two leads of Charlie and Amber (based on Francesca and Taj).

After this initial research stage, Francesca and Taj continued to develop Displaced as co-writers throughout 2017. This included writers weekends, writing workshops and developing the full length script for theatre and creating a script for television.

We would like to thank:
Carriageworks Theatre, Horton Housing, SASH, Scarcroft Project, St.George’s Crypt, Foundation Harrogate, Howe Hill Hostel, Job Centre, Phillip Shelley, BBC and Channel 4.

As well as all the incredible young adults we worked with and the actors, director, producer who supported us on this journey thus far.

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