RECOVERIST THEATRE PROJECT: CASE STUDY - K.T MARSH
I joined the project because someone (Nell Hardy, with whom I had worked on another project) recommended it to me. I had Fridays free and Friday being the gateway to the weekend (where unstructured time can weigh heavy), it was useful for me to have an organised activity Friday. I came to a crypt under a church in Islington. Although it seemed slightly shambolic and chaotic at first (like any collective of addicts, or artists!) I soon recognised common ground with the others. It was quite hard to be joining on about the fourth or fifth session, as others knew each other, but in addiction we like to focus on the similarities, not the differences.
There was to be a “showing” at the end and I am interested in performance opportunities. I have found that it’s extremely liberating to be able to speak about dark times in well-lit places. Every time I “show” the shadowy parts of myself that I’ve been trying to hide for years and years, it lightens my burden of shame and makes me feel happy. It’s a weird thing to be proud of former shame, quite difficult to put into words, it’s a bit transcendental. The project offered...limitless tea and biscuits every Friday afternoon, and contact with others. Recovery can be pretty solitary. We had visiting artists come in and work with us, I remember in particular a “breathing lady with harmonium” and dance and movement led by a beautiful ballerina. Also creative writing always my favourite ! (I have been writing and performing original material about addiction for a few years now, I have been in recovery for 12 years.) During this project I unexpectedly lost a very good friend, to a bad liver. I’ve lost several loved ones to alcohol or drugs or a combination. This one really hurt as he was a childhood friend and I was struggling to accept that he could not be helped and was lost; despite all my brilliant expertise on addiction and how much I wanted to rescue him, I was unable to. I wrote a poem about losing my friend Paul, and performed it at the final showing. It was cathartic (but I’m still FURIOUS with my beloved friend for not saving his own damn self).
Long-term changes are that I have been able to work on projects like Recoverist on the other side of the table, helping to structure and deliver workshops on creative writing and drama and music therapy. I am just at the beginning of such ventures but I never thought I would be able to help others express themselves and how much people benefit doing this (as well as crying there’s a lot of laughing). I also got to know the facilitator Niki through this project, observed her incredibly hard work trying to “herd a bunch of cats” and make a showing from disparate source material, for which she earned my undying respect and gratitude!
I like the name, Recover-Ist. I’ve done a lot of personal research into –ists and –isms. Here’s a link to a poem about Ists and isms
Recover-Ist reminds me of Self-Ist, which is different from selfish. It is not wrong if you put yourself first in recovery because this enables you to strengthen and grow and help others, on the same principle as when in an aeroplane, if oxygen masks appear, you don’t help other people not even your child until you’ve put on your own oxygen mask. MORE Recoverist, MOAH !