Cathy Sloan, BA, MEd, MA, PGCE, FHEA | The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Cathy Sloan


The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Research Degree (PhD)
Ulster University, PGCE
The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, MA Applied Theatre
Queens University Belfast, MEd Educational Psychology
Queens University Belfast, BA (Hons) History & English Literature


I am a PhD candidate at Central. My research examines performance practice that is socially and ethically engaged with portraying experiences of addiction and recovery.

Prior to beginning my PhD studies I worked for a number of years with Outside Edge Theatre Company as Associate, then Artistic Director. I have a wide range of experience as a theatre-maker and director within applied theatre contexts such as recovery communities, homelessness, criminal justice and mental wellbeing groups. Previous to this, I was Head of Drama in a secondary school in Belfast and so have also taught performance skills to young people within and outside of school settings. Since 2012, I have taught as a visiting lecturer on a range of courses at Central, including MA Voice Studies, MA Applied Theatre, MA Actor Training and Coaching and BA (Hons) Drama, Applied Theatre and Education.

Project Title:


I propose an approach to developing applied theatre practice as an ‘affective performance ecology’. I begin with the premise that applied theatre practice and research is a living thing bound up in relations in the world, with others and with theatre practices. My ontological approach as a researcher-practitioner, my sense of being-in-the-world, is embedded in my understanding of ‘affect’ as a way of theorising the flow and exchange of energy or sensation that motivates us to thought, to action, to inter-relation with people, places and things.

My practice as a theatre-maker with people in recovery from addiction is an affective expression of my understanding of the world and of those with whom I am collaborating. My research is, therefore, a practice of ecology and, specifically, a concern with both performance ecology and ecologies of recovery (from addiction). 

In my thesis, I will explore modes of cultivating an affective performance ecology. Through a critical exploration of exemplars of theatrical performances created with and by people affected by lived experiences of addiction, I interrogate how an affective performance ecology might relate to a practice of recovery, particularly in relation to renegotiating the felt sensation of shame that may inhibit the capacity to engage with others and recovery. I also challenge the concept of recovery in search of a human ecology of aliveness that may inadvertently be a progressive act of political resistance in the midst of a western society that stigmatises, criminalises and medicalises addicts. 

Key Publications

2017. ‘Aestheticising Addiction to Generate Change: An exploration of performance practice with biographical drug-use narratives.’ In Performance Research: Under The Influence (forthcoming).

2014. ‘From Substance Misuse the Musical to Double Whammy: The Affect of Outside Edge Theatre Company.’ In Addiction and Performance (Cambridge Scholars Publishing).

Conference Paper Presentations

2017. ‘Performing Addiction to Practice Recovery,’ Collisions Festival – annual postgraduate practice as research conference at Central.

2017. ‘Affective Performance Ecology,’ Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA), Applied and Social Theatre Working Group, Salford University.

2017. ‘Spaces of Potentiality,’ Performing Research – annual conference of performance research for MA students, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

2017. ‘(Dis)Proposing References,’ Intersections – annual postgraduate research conference at Central.


2017. Director/Facilitator, Performing Addiction to Practice Recovery - a programme of explorative theatre workshops and scratch performance, Central.

2015. Director, Turf Wars, Outside Edge Theatre (film project – in house)

2014. Director, Too High Too Far Too Soon, Tristan Bates Theatre and UK tour of drug treatment centres.

2014. Director, Outside Edge Cabaret, Outside Edge Theatre (in house) 2014 Director, Disney Detox, West London Drug Project.

2013. Facilitator/Creative Producer, Double Whammy (2), UK tour of drug treatment centres and youth prison.

2013. Assistant Director/Creative Producer, Shooting The Moon, Tara Arts Theatre.

2012-13. Director / Facilitator Is There Anybody Out There?, tour of schools in Gloucestershire with cast of young people affected by homelessness.

2012. Assistant Director/Creative Producer, Once a Man Twice a Child, Oxford House Theatre.

2012. Facilitator/Creative Producer, Double Whammy, UK tour of prisons and drug treatment centres and Tara Arts theatre.

2012. Assistant Director/Dramaturg, Substance Mis-Use The Musical, Hoxton Hall.

Teaching Areas/Expertise

  • Performance Theory
  • Affect Theory
  • Applied Theatre
  • Devising Performance
  • Working with text
  • Pedagogy -  theories of learning and teaching practices