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Outside Edge Theatre Company’s Vision

To change the lives of people affected by addiction through theatre and drama

Outside Edge Theatre Company is the UK’s only theatre company and participatory arts charity focused on improving the lives of people affected by any form of addiction, including their families, carers and champions. For the past twenty years OETC has produced theatre productions about issues related to addiction, from substance misuse to problem gambling, and provided free drama workshops to help people make healthier choices and support their recovery maintenance. We have created over 50 award-winning theatre productions at venues such as Soho Theatre, Riverside Studios, Hoxton Hall, Shoreditch Town Hall and the VAULT Festival.

Founded in 1999 by Phil Fox, who was an actor and recovering heroin addict, the work of the company builds from Phil’s lived experience of theatre leading from addiction to recovery. The company continues to work from the premise that creative engagement and exploring complex issues through drama has the ability to bring about positive change in the lives of people affected by addiction and the wider community as a whole.

OETC’s free, peer-led drama activities work from an asset-based approach to reduce isolation, improve wellbeing and increase optimism, hope and enjoyment. These arts-based interventions promote the Five Ways to Wellbeing (be active, connect, take notice, keep learning and give) to help build Recovery Capital (the internal and external resources required to maintain recovery). Our inclusive weekly arts activities encourage participants to develop healthy habits, discover new talents and reclaim centre stage in their own lives. For more information on how we do what we do, please see our Theory of Change.

By providing personal, one-to-one Pastoral Care Support we empower service users to chart their own journey with us through our Participation PathwaysThis robust and holistic scheme includes progressing from participation in drop-in Creative Activities to advanced actor training and performance opportunities, free Social Activities, such as theatre trips and holiday social events, and Volunteer & Employment Activities, such as peer mentoring, support facilitation and paid acting work.

With ongoing pastoral care and participation in OETC’s activities, service users learn coping strategies and changes in behaviours to reduce loneliness, improve physical and mental health, strengthen financial resilience, and reintegrate into the community. These outcomes support service users to accumulate Recovery Capital, which helps to prevent relapse or support harm reduction goals.

Our person centred approach accounts for why:

  • 97% of participants say that OETC strengthens their recovery
  • 80% did not use substances in the past month
  • 52% did not use substances in the past year

Read about OETC’s recent work and impact in our Annual Report and Accounts:

2019-20 Annual Report and Accounts

2018-19 Annual Report and Accounts

2017-18 Annual Report and Accounts

OETC is the proud winner of the National Campaign for the Arts 2020 Hearts for the Arts Award (Best Arts, Health and Wellbeing Project).

“The work of Outside Edge changed my life as a man and a theatre artist. It proved to me that people can change and theatre can be a part of that.” – Mark Rylance, OETC Patron

“Outside Edge plays an important role in helping those coping with substance misuse take steps on the road to recovery. The company’s work demonstrates the unique power of drama to help people overcome their issues.” – Cllr Sue Fennimore, Deputy Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council

“Full marks in every category for this extraordinary company that doesn’t just improve lives but saves them. Far-reaching and ambitious in its remit, it has transformed the lives of people living with addiction and the subsequent poor mental health beyond measure. I wish every town, city, community in the country could offer what they do.” –  Julie Hesmondhalgh, actor and judge for Hearts for the Arts Award

“As Commissioners we have found that OETC’s approach is a unique model as a dedicated and continuing service for adults. It is a company that continues to grow and innovate and attracts a more diverse user group than national averages for people in treatment. The feedback from service users demonstrates that workshops are strengthening their recovery and meeting individual goals.” – Hammersmith & Fulham Substance Misuse Commissioners

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