Spotlight On… Playwright and Actor, Francesca Joy

Imagine If Theatre Company present the world premiere of 

You Forgot the Mince UK Tour:

October – November 2016  

Francesca Joy’s debut play, You Forgot the Mince, is a raw and compelling portrait of an intense, passionate and ultimately abusive relationship that spirals out of control with unexpected consequences. Drawn from personal accounts and interviews with victims and perpetrators, this gritty piece of new writing embarks on a UK Tour to theatres and prisons this autumn.
Rosa lives with her grandma Lily.  She’s just finished college and can’t wait to leave Yorkshire and all the people in it … until she meets Niko. They fall head over heels in love and the future looks bright. But their love for each other is tested to the limit; Rosa leaves for London, Niko ends up in prison and Lily won’t stop baking cakes.  Everyone’s world is falling apart but noone’s talking about it.  How are they going to get their lives back on track?

Directed by Stephen Whitson (The Last Five Years at The Lyric Theatre, Belfast; Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens at Criterion Theatre, London; Little Women at Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham), You Forgot the Mince is a moving exploration of love, loss, cause and effect. The play tells the story of an intense relationship with humour, choreographed movement and music.

Playwright Francesca Joy comments, This is my first full-length play and I feel a million different things at once; it’s a bit like having my own little pot of magic. You Forgot the Mince is vested in truth, and with truth there is the opportunity for change.  If it changes even one person’s life for the better then the play will have been a success for me.

The You Forgot the Mince tour is accompanied by a tailored participation and outreach programme compromised of drama-based workshops. These will be delivered to educational establishments, probation services and community centres, engaging with hard-to-reach audiences who have little experience of the arts.  Through the workshops the participants are empowered to use drama as a tool to express themselves, tell their own unique stories and have the opportunity to get involved with the arts separately through Imagine If’s other projects.

Francesca chatted to me about her debut play:

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Thanks for talking to Break A Leg. Tell me about You Forgot the Mince…

You Forgot the Mince is a story about what we do to protect those around us and how we mess them up in the process. It is about real people and the life journeys they choose to go on. How we love someone and how we hurt someone. You Forgot the Mince is set in Yorkshire and revolves around three characters; Rosa, Lily and Niko who are all trying their best to survive in the only way they know how.

What was the inspiration for You Forgot the Mince?

The characters came to me long before the story did. I wanted to write about real characters in real life situations that I feel people can relate to. We live our lives through relationships; family relationships, a relationship with your job, when strangers become friends, when someone passes away, the start of relationships and how the end of them encapsulate our lives. I was inspired by my own relationships with those close to me, those around me and the people I passed on the street. I am inspired by people and the ability they have to change their own behaviour.  I hope You Forgot the Mince inspires others to change too.

Is it translating well from page to stage?

I organised and found the funding for two research and development phases, so I had worked hard on the character’s voices and stories before we went into rehearsals for the tour.  I was still petrified about sending the script out to the director and creative team. I felt I was going to get caught out and someone would tell me that the script was horrendous or the characters don’t work.  Luckily that never happened.

“If you find yourself asking yourself, and your friends; Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist? Chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.” Steven Pressfield, “The War of Art”.

How is the space lending itself to the piece?

The world which the characters inhabit transforms physically as well as in their minds. Stephen Whitson (Director) and Emma Williams (Designer) have conjoined these two worlds within the play seamlessly. Merging external and internal elements, the space has become a catalyst for the character’s stories. Each space we perform in during the tour is completely different; from performing in theatres to performing in prisons, we are in for an interesting journey, one which we are all ready to go on.

What do you hope the audience will take away from the production?

Questions. Questions they ask themselves and questions they ask others. I hope people reflect on their own experiences and behaviour and really investigate their relationships with the aim of instigating positive change in them and the world around them.

Finally, any advice for budding writers?

Get your writing on its feet. In any way you can. Work with a director and actors during a research and development period; it will help you hear your script come to life to see and hear how the words come off the page. If that’s not possible, ask friends to read it out. Send it out to local theatre scratch nights. Try and get a rehearsed reading as early as you can. And be prepared to fail. Also, believe in yourself. If you don’t, no one else will.

Thanks for a lovely interview, Francesca!

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