imagine if theatre was founded in 2015, in Leeds, by current artistic director, Francesca Joy, to instigate real change in people’s lives through theatre. imagine if aims to actively improve disadvantaged people’s lives through theatre and we work predominantly with prisoners and people with convictions who have a range of disadvantages including mental health issues, homelessness, victims of abuse, low literacy levels, unemployment and low socio-economic backgrounds. We place those without a voice at the forefront of each imagine if production.
We have demonstrated that theatre is a powerful tool that can be used to reach out and connect with people from all areas of society. The theatre we create is based on the world around us comprising real stories from real people. We aim to create work that is inspiring, entertaining and unashamedly honest for intimate audiences. All our productions are rooted in truth and we have toured to over 20 theatres across the UK including a month long run at The Pleasance at Edinburgh Fringe Festival. We have performed to over 3,000 audience members receiving critical acclaim in the press and have also been supported by Sir Ian McKellen.
“The scripting is as sharp as the performances. Francesca Joy has an obvious talent for creating poignancy from the ordinary… the physicality of the performances and the nuance in the writing make it all feel heartbreakingly new.” West End Wilma on imagine if’s production, You Forgot the Mince, 2017
imagine if has a geographical focus spanning across Yorkshire, however have worked internationally, most recently working in prisons in America with several companies, including with Tim Robbins and his company ‘The Actor’s Gang’ in Los Angeles. We have also worked in India in slums, orphanages and with Bangalore-based theatre company ‘Yours Truly’. We have worked in 26 prisons across the UK and USA, having engaged with over 4,000 prisoners and continually supporting prisoners when they are released into the community, for as long as individuals require support.
“It was the only thing that was inspiring in prison. Because of Bird on the Wing, I got a job within four weeks of getting out and I have remained in work since” Bird on the Wing Graduate, 2018
imagine if have a range of programmes, most notably Bird on the Wing and Phoenix, which help participants with interpersonal skills, communication skills, employability and positive personal narratives. These programmes are there to support graduates and people with convictions throughout their time in prison and for as long as they need upon release.
“A key part of the success of Bird on the Wing is the long-term support that it offers to prisoners after their release.” The Yorkshire Post, 2019