London Insiders: Imogen Brodie, Director of Young Vic Taking Part

Presenting another interview in our series looking into the lives and work of the creative professionals that make our city grand! This time we're discussing the work of Imogen Brodie.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of your role?
There are so many things about this job that are enjoyable. I love the times when you can see the emotional and spiritual impact taking part in theatre can have on people. Like when someone in recovery realises they can write and decides to go to university to study creative writing. Or when two people who would never have crossed paths in everyday life become friends because they have been in a show together.  And when young and older people have a platform to speak and make their friends and families proud of them. The Young Vic really does become a home for people who take part, and I love being part of making that happen. 

Imogen Brodie, Director of Young Vic Taking Part. Photo by Leon Puplett.jpg

Community projects are a great way of tackling social issues, but is it often difficult to recruit participants?
It is definitely challenging finding harder to reach people to take part in projects, but we have amazing relationships with local services, schools and community groups who work with us to recruit great participants.  We have also just formed a new company of local people, called Neighbourhood Theatre.  This is a company of 80 neighbours, all of whom either come from or have links with particularly marginalised groups, who will advocate for us and help us extend our reach in Lambeth and Southwark.

How are the Taking Part workshops developed?
All of the Taking Part workshops are developed in response to the shows that are on in the Young Vic’s three theatres.  We consider the ideas in the plays as well as the groups of people that the plays might resonate with and design each project or workshop to meet the needs of those groups. All of the workshops and community productions are run by directors from our Director’s Program; we work closely with the directors to realise the projects, both in terms of creating something artistically beautiful and making an amazing experience for everyone taking part.

Tell us about your current project "Now We Are Here".
For the last year we have been working with a group of refugees introduced to us by charity Micro Rainbow International. They are all here seeking asylum because they have been persecuted for being LGBTQI in their home countries.  We ran a number of workshops to get to know people and to explore the possibility of telling these previously unheard stories on stage.  At the beginning of 2016 we spent two weeks with four people from the initial workshops who wanted to write these stories, creating text, talking, developing ideas, and then invited some actors to work on the text which led to a small private sharing of the work.  

The impact on the audience was incredible.  We wanted to continue with the work and share it with a wider audience, so we are now rehearsing the play with four professional actors and four refugee writers, which has been an incredible experience for all of us.  It’ll be on at the Young Vic from 20 – 30 July and will be part of Encampment on the Southbank on the 31 July.  These are genuinely stories you never hear and are moving, beautiful and remind us that refugees are real people with real lives rather than the mass that we are encouraged to believe they are.

Do you have a local stomping ground?
I spend a lot of time on the Southbank, and around that area.  I also love Peckham for its rich, diverse, lively, close community.  And also for its brilliant bars and restaurants – like Pedler, or Peckham Bazaar.

What is your favourite cultural establishment in London?
Apart from the Young Vic, obviously, I love the Royal Court.

Do you have any tips for new Londoners?
Although London is the most expensive city in the world, there is lots of great free stuff to do - I’d say do as much of that as possible. Londoners can have a reputation for being a bit unfriendly - I’d say that’s not so true.  Many of the people we work with here are the warmest, most generous people.  I’d say seek them out.  They are out there.

Imogen's latest project, Now We Are Here runs at the Clare Studio at the Young Vic until 30th July and at Good Chance’s Encampment programme (part of the Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love) on 31th July.

Performances are ticketed and free to attend. Audiences can choose to donate to the charities Micro Rainbow International and Room to Heal – which work with refugees in the UK, chosen by our collaborators. Tickets can be reserved at