The University of ManchesterZoi Zontou PhD in DramaAPPLIED THEATRE AND DRUGS: COMMUNITY, CREATIVITY AND HOPEApril 2011Abstract This thesis presents a spectrum of different practices, with many different ways of thinking about the application of theatre with problem drug users. It starts from the question of how applied theatre might assist problem drug users to socially reintegrate, and moves on to ask further questions with regard to its potential to promote personal change and contribute to the participants' social acceptance. The two research questions that have driven my enquiry are: to what degree can participation in applied theatre assist problem drug users towards their social reintegration? And: how does the implementation of applied theatre with this specific client group inform us about its potential to promote personal change?By using evidence from theatre projects carried out in England and Greece, this thesis attempts to illustrate how different forms of theatre can be implemented with the aim of supporting the individual's journey to recovery and reintegration. This thesis is divided in three thematic units: community; creativity; and hope. Each unit explores the potentially powerful relationship between the dramatisation of stories of recovery and their presentation to a public audience. By positioning the outcomes of the research in relation to the debates around current drug policies and applied theatre's potential to act as a transformative agent, this thesis sets out to explore factors by which participation in applied theatre has the potential to have an impact on problem drug users by operating as an 'alternative substance'. In particular, it seeks to examine the possibility of applied theatre operating as an alternative form of 'escapism' from the participants' current community (community of exclusion), thus functioning as a motivational force towards their social reintegration. It will suggest that applied theatre has the power to promote personal change by regenerating the individuals' social and creative components and by awakening their desire for affiliation and belonging.