SANCTUARY, the new artist development scheme at Lighthouse, Poole’s centre for the arts, has attracted a great deal of positive interest within the arts sector – so rare are such programmes – and its importance may not be fully understood for years to come. 

That’s according to Danielle Cooper who was invited to spend a week in the Sherling Studio this week to work on her one-woman show Sobering Thoughts On Addiction (A Comedy). 

“The pandemic has been devastating on so many levels,” she says, “but in the arts, people who had their careers mapped out for the next 10 or 15 years have had to abandon those plans and do whatever has been necessary to meet basic needs.

“Once that happens it means the only people left in the arts are from a certain economic background so if you want diversity in the arts you have to make grass roots opportunities like this available – that's why we are indebted to Lighthouse and the SANCTUARY scheme made possible by the Culture Recovery Fund and the Weston Culture Fund.” 

Danielle’s was working on the project at Lighthouse with her director, Charmaine K Parkin, and artist Alan Hindle as well as writer John Foster.

The immersive one-woman show gives a compelling insight into addiction, uncovering the facts and lived experience behind the headlines and statistics. Through the lens of Danielle’s own recovery, she uses stand-up comedy, dramatic interludes and poetic language to explore the darkness of addiction and the light that lies on the other side. 

“The piece started out as a kind of talk with a couple of jokes worked in,” explains Danielle.  “Working with Charmaine has seen it develop into this amazing immersive experience.

“Finding recovery as a 40-year-old, queer, single mother struggling to balance work and family life, I suddenly realised that I wasn’t the only person like me. I saw I wasn’t alone in spending years misunderstanding what addiction is and who it affects. 

“So coming to Lighthouse, it’s not just the use of space, or financial support, or the technical support, or even the artistic support, it’s a validation that this voice matters and deserves to be heard.

“Offering a development week in the Sherling Studio alongside a financial grant made possible by the Culture Recovery and Weston Culture Funds, Lighthouse has given a lifeline to artists who seek to emerge into a post-Covid landscape, bringing with them relevant, thought provoking theatre.”

Sobering Thoughts On Addiction (A Comedy) premieres at Brighton Fringe on 3 June and will tour next year.


Published 19 May 2021