Recoverist Theatre Project is an applied theatre-based project which aims to give a platform to participants to voice experiences of addiction and recovery. Inspired by The Recoverist Manifesto, which reframes addiction as a ‘health issue and recovery as a civil rights concern’ (Dibbits 2015), RTP marks the transition of refocusing recovery using an activist lens – actively engaging with theatre to explore and challenge the social justice issues relating to addiction and recovery.
The Recoverist Manifesto gives a voice to marginalised people that aims to dispel the stigmatising myths and legends associated with the condition by providing a counterblast that challenges current cliched misconceptions by reframing addiction as a health issue and recovery as a civil rights concern. Putting aside the culture of blame and shame by addressing the reader directly, the Manifesto suggests that addiction reflects the inequalities of contemporary life.
Dibbets, K.2015 Manchester University
Part 1 of a Recoverist Manifesto
The original project based at Action on Addiction Liverpool, used practices such as improvisation, devising and writing techniques to enable participants to creatively explore issues they faced during addiction and in their subsequent recovery journey. This culminated in a devised performance piece, ‘Who Am I’, shown to a small invited audience at The Florrie. The participants were subsequently invited to join ‘Transitions’ group’ with Collective Encounters and within six months performed with the company in ‘Cracked’ at Liverpool Everyman. My paper explores the project as an example of the transformational potential inherent in applied theatre-based projects, enabling the recovery community to explore their experiences creatively and challenge the societal prejudices associated with addiction – thereby marking the transition from ‘being in recovery’ to becoming a ‘recoverist’.
I found it a cathartic experience.
personal for me. That monologue was about me. I wanted to distance myself from it by creating that character but it was all about me.'
I fulfilled a childhood ‘nightmare’.
The writing exercise really opened me up. It gave me a new release. Realised that creativity has to be in someone’s life with addiction. I really got into it, the feeling. Especially using my own work, expressing what came from me. There’s something special about that.’
It became like a sort of forum, about the subject, which was recovery.
It’s been therapeutic for me
I fulfilled something
More on the Recoverist Theatre Project
Nicola presented a paper on Recoverist Theatre Project at the Recovery and the Arts Conference at Liverpool John Moore’s University, September 2019. You can view Nicola’s presentation slides here.