With a focus on community-led change, this project calls us all to imagine what Britain could be for girls and women as we all stand to see change.
Just imagine is a new project launched by the yellow box theatre which aims to challenge common beliefs around womanhood underlying sexual violence against women and girls in Britain today.
Just imagine encompasses three components:
Think – a programme of talks and articles.
Create – a production of Birds, a play written by a collective of female writers.
Change – a community initiative in its creative process and activities.
- Build more resilient communities committed to end violence against women and girls.
- Educate against beliefs and myths underlying rape culture.
- Empower communities to be agents of change and support to survivors of sexual assaults or rape.
- Reflect the diversity of contemporary Britain using arts and culture as an educational tool.
- Support local female artists' ambition, talents and skills during these turbulent times.
The Yellow box theatre is a Brixton-based theatre company, with a vision to do theatre differently.
As a not-for-profit theatre company, we produce contemporary theatre and conduct campaign work, with a focus on building stronger communities in Brixton and beyond.
For more information, visit:
About our debut project One.
‘One’ a short-film about race in Britain, was awarded with a Special mention for noticeable work by the London International Monthly Film Festival 2021. It was produced by a collaboration of dance artists and writers articulating creatively a conversation about race. A series of talks were conducted alongside the film as part of our campaign work.
What was the impact of the project?
Birds tells the stories of young women awaking to societal beliefs around womanhood and gender-based violence in Great Britain today.
The play connects different worlds and stirs communities into reflection, around the shared yet distinct experience of violence against women and girls. Birds focuses on common societal and institutional responses to rape and sexual assaults, with an insight into historical consciousness, a call for social responsibility and community activism.
The play aims to reflect upon the resilience of youth in a context of social deprivation, acknowledging the distinction of experiences amongst people groups, while touching on the beauty and the challenges present in the world of arts.
Birds sensitively intertwines two short plays: the stories of Olive and Cassie.
About the emerging playwrights.
Natasha Stiven is a Scottish actor and writer, who trained at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts in London. Recent acting credits include Catherine and Mary Smith in touring productions of Wuthering Heights and Cranford, Dandelion at the King’s Head Theatre and One with the Yellow Box Theatre, through which she first formed a connection with the company. Cassie featuring in Birds is Natasha Stiven's debut play for the stage. She aims to open a conversation about sexual violence against women and institutional responses to such violence.
Roshi Thevasagayam is a British born South Asian writer and editor. She trained at DeMontfort University in Drama Studies and Media and at M. A. Singers in Sri Lanka in Musical Theatre. With a background in e-communications in the not-for-profit sector, Roshi is a brilliant self-starter who loves animation, editing, filming, photography and coding. Recent credits include lead editor on a documentary series called Think and on short film called One, by the Yellow box theatre. One received a Special mention for noticeable work at the London International Film Festival 2021.
Paloma Davis is a British actress, writer and poet of Caribbean descent, who was first introduced to the Yellow box theatre whist performing in the short film One in 2020. Her debut as an actress, found her performing in productions such as The Crucible and A Dolls House for the Rose Theatre Kingston. She is a member of an all-female improvisation group named Picked Mix. Paloma Davis started writing a few years ago, Olive will be her debut play for the stage as part of a collective of writers.
Ruth Allier-Dugdale is a French actor, writer and emerging director, with a background in community-based arts and advocacy. She trained at the University College London, KSA Academy of Performing Arts and Rose Theatre. Founder of the Yellow box theatre, her debut short-film ‘One’ created with a collective of artists received a Special mention for noticeable work at the London International Film Festival 2021. Writing credits include journalist work such as advocacy articles for the House of Lords and Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust as well as creative pieces such as You and I, the gift of our lives.
About the creative and production team.
Birds will be directed by Ruth Allier-Dugdale in collaboration with Roshi Thevasagayam, Paloma Davies and Natasha Stiven, as director and production assistants. Produced by the Yellow box theatre, a collaborative approach to creativity will underpin all our practice.
Zinah Mangera-Lakew is South-East London born performance artist based in Lewisham. She began vocational dance training at London Contemporary Dance School. She graduated from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance with a 1st Class Degree in contemporary dance after which, she was presented with the award for Outstanding Achievement in Performance. Zinah's interests lie in inclusive practice – she creates and facilitates work in community settings and for community arts initiatives. Zinah predominantly creates work that is culturally relevant. Her most recent work, is a multi-disciplinary exploration covering issues of systemic racism, racial inequality, and injustice in contemporary dance conservatoires in the UK.
Lead set designer
Constance Villemot is a Franco-British set and costume designer, who trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Guildhall School of Music and Drama and at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Appliqués et des Métiers d’Art, in Paris. Constance designs simple and poetic spaces to enhance and engage with the audience’s imagination beyond what they can see. Recent credits include Tell it Slant (by E. Miller), Miss Julie (by G. McAlinden), A Doll's House (by G. McAlinden), The Frogs (by Z. Walwyn).
Jenny Holden is an emerging London-based British set designer. Jenny trained in graphic design at Croydon College and developed a passion for theatre, illustration and photography. With a background in community-based organisations in Brixton, she loves building stronger communities and enjoys working on set design to create interesting spaces for the characters in each piece. Credits: Lead set designer for Under My Skin by S. Kabubi.
Alongside the play, campaign work will be conducted to provide: a programme of talks and articles for all.
A series of short documentaries called ‘Think’ will be produced to explore themes such as:
- Great Britain's landscape of gender-based violence with a focus on rape and sexual assaults.
- Common myths and beliefs around gender underlying rape culture and their impact on:
- perpetuating violence against women and girls
- shaping social and institutionalised responses to survivors
- increasing trauma
- hindering justice and change.
- Sexual violence against women in the arts and arts education.
- Community-led approaches to end violence against women and girls: understanding communities and the distinction of experiences.
- Faith, theology and hope in a context of gender-based violence.
- Men as agents of change against male violence towards women through: prevention, education and activism. The distinction of experience: male and non-binary survivors.
- Hope, empowerment and processing trauma, the voices of survivors.
Our campaign work will be conducted by an all female collective committed to inspire change at the heart of community.
Filmmaker, Director and Producer
Catherine Rose will be working alongside the project campaign lead Ruth Allier-Dugdale, advocacy officer Natasha Stiven and editor Roshi Thevasagayam. Catherine Rose is a self-shooting producer/director with experience of working with production companies large and small, newsrooms and International NGOs. Catherine has worked on documentaries, news packages, charity films and 360 film/Virtual Reality. As a filmmaker she loves to use film as a creative tool to engage, inspire and motivate audiences to act.
As a producer and director for WaterAid, Catherine directed award-winning short documentary: Across the Tracks, which explores the role of sanitation in keeping women safe from violence in India. She also directed the interactive film, Parallel lives, which contrasts experiences of midwives in Tanzania and the UK; and realised WaterAid’s first 360/VR project Aftershock. Aftershock transports the viewer to Nepal where a community looks to rebuild their lives after the devastating 2015 earthquakes. The film has been recognised as one of the first successful uses of the immersive medium by an NGO and toured at a number of festivals and screenings.
We are committed to engage and participate with our local communities in Brixton and beyond.
As part of participation and engagement programme, we hope to conduct several activities:
Participatory Discussion Groups
As part of the writing process, participatory community-based discussions will be conducted with the writers in partnership with local organisations.
- To allow communities to shape the voices of the characters allowing communities to have a sense of ownership and representation in the play.
- ·To allow the voices of survivors to be heard and reflected in the play.
- To provide expertise into gender-based violence, trauma and legal processes.
A short-course in performing arts for local survivors
As a response to the play and campaign work, we aim to offer local women who are survivors of rape or sexual assaults, a 5 weeks course in performing arts, led by dance and theatre artists alongside counsellors in gender-based violence. This course will aim to improve mental health and allow peer support.
A theatre in education workshop: Men teaching boys differently.
As part of this project, we want to design a workshop for secondary schools and colleges created by male playwrights to teach younger men about consent, healthy relationships and against many forms of violence against women and girls. Tackling violence against women and girls also means tackling male violence through education and prevention.
If you are able to, please support us by making a donation, we would be most grateful.
These turbulent times have brought significant challenges to the arts industry, including ourselves as an organisation, your support is invaluable in saving the arts and allowing culture to remain a reflection of who we are as a society and who we inspire to be. Thank you all for your support.
The money raised will contribute to supporting this project only, this includes:
- paying the creative and production team
- hiring facilities and equipment
- pay for the set and costume
- other project costs.