Ahead of Icon’s Cookham Wood Theatre Programme restarting this autumn, a project which supports young men in the criminal justice system, we sat down with creative activist, educator and writer Chia Phoenix who leads the programme to find out more.

Who are you and what do you do?

I am a creative educator and activist who uses creativity to allow young people and adults to have a better connection to themselves and the world around them through storytelling, spoken word/poetry, drama, dance and healthy creative expression.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by new beginnings, the fact that everyday we have a fresh start to try again, as a young person everyday felt like the end, I had no resilience to start over but as I got older and my anxiety calmed down I realised its ok, everyday is a new day.

What are you looking forward to about the project?

My favourite thing I am looking forward to is watching the young men come alive through their creative expression, there is always a little light I see turn on in young people when they feel free to express and they feel safe to be who they choose to be instead of who they have had to be.

What will the participants be doing?

The participants will be exploring who they are as young people in 2023, looking at how they express their feelings and emotions through spoken word, drama and role play. Paying particular attention to their own creative expression as young men and learning that knowing how they feel will make them better communicators and build more resilience as they make better choices for themselves in the future.

About Chia Phoenix (Lead Artist on the programme)

Chia Phoenix is creative activist, educator, writer and director who has worked within arts, youth and criminal justice sectors for the last 20 years. She believes creativity is a bridge between hearts, supports the health and wellbeing of all communities and cultures and is a great tool to raise self-esteem and healthy self-expression within us all.

“Creativity opens the spirit and allows people to explore more of who they are and the world we live in.  I believe when you are laughing you are learning because the spirit is open and is more receptive to dreams, inspiration and hope, which we all need to feel alive”

About Jay Woods (Assistant Facilitator on the programme)

Jay is a facilitator and creative theatre practitioner, with experience in designing and delivering workshops for different community groups, including within social care, criminal justice, and mental health settings. They have a particular interest in promoting accessibility and inclusivity within the arts, and believe in the power of theatre to bring about both personal and social change. He also works as an actor and is represented by the Actors Network Agency.

Find out more about our Cookham Wood Theatre Programme here.

Photo (c) Abel Berhan


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