Imagine If

Is Anyone There?


“Is anyone able to see what is happening?
Is anyone listening?
Is anyone even there?”

A team of theatre professionals and community members came together to perform an explosive outdoor performance in August 2021. Everyone’s got a story to tell, whose are you going to listen to?

“The whole production is something new, incredible and intimate at the same time. You get to hear the unheard, listen to the misunderstood, give social justice a chance and deeply connect with the characters. All whilst having a good, pleasant time at the theatre setting. It was an interesting experience like no other” – South Leeds Life

Is Anyone There? was devised by the participants on imagine ifPhoenix Programme, which works with prison leavers and people with convictions to help their development into a crime-free life.

Through Phoeniximagine if is able to offer arts-based and employability workshops, creative experimentation, and holistic mentoring to people with convictions by allowing them to develop their skills and build confidence.

Is Anyone There? had a range of Phoenix participants involved, some that have worked with us for five years some for six months. They were all paid the real living wage and were involved in the casting, devising, performing, sound design, set design and front of house.

“We were all keen to create characters who challenged the preconception of what an ex-offender actually is and give a new perspective into some of the feelings, thoughts and challenges we’ve come across” – Ryan & Michael, Phoenix Participants in Big Issue North

Is Anyone There? is special because it’s been co-devised by us, our fellow Phoenix participants and theatre professionals – which means all our experiences, ideas and creativity have gone into creating the show you’ll see” – Ryan & Michael, Phoenix Participants in Big Issue North

You can learn more about the work of the Phoenix programme here.


Creative Team

Madeleine O’Reilly – Director
Alan Lane – Technical Director
Chesca Joy – Writer/Producer
Mark Catley – Dramaturg
Caitlin Mawhinney – Set/Costume Designer
Phil Grainger – Sound Designer
Tamsin Cook– Community Director
Tilly Harper– Project Manager
Calum Clark – Production Manager
Elle Money – Assistant Producer
Rachael McGregor – Project Assistant
Lee Bainbridge – Actor
Chris Chilton – Actor

“Originally I came across imagine if through Bird on the Wing, [imagine if’s flagship theatre and employability intervention for prisoners due for release] which encourages prisoners to try something different and think differently. I’d never been involved with theatre before – and it was something I’d never considered getting involved in – and I just kept going from there.

I’ve loved being in rehearsals for ‘Is Anyone There?’. We’ve been listening to each other’s experiences to shape characters, ideas and stories for the show. I hope audiences who come to the show get some new perspectives, maybe reconsider the traditional view of prison-leavers and people with convictions, because we want to challenge the perceptions of who we are”– Ryan, Phoenix Programme participant and cast member


Watch our video from the Is Anyone There? devising week…

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