I had a troubled upbringing. I’m a survivor of violence and developed a drug problem in my teens. I attended university and received a drama degree. I struggled a lot though, and once I reached my 30s, things got really bad. I dealt with addiction, mental health problems, and an eating disorder. On top of that I couldn’t manage financially.
I got clean in 2002 by attending NA meetings on my own without going into rehab. Things were better at first and then got much worse. I found it very difficult because when I first stopped using, I sort of didn’t know how to live life because that had been my buffer, how I coped with things. I didn’t really have any life skills. I finally went into rehab, which changed my life. I was living in supported housing for about six months when I met Cardboard Citizens.
After going through Forum Training week, I fell in love with it. Cardboard Citizens asked me to come on the Forum Theatre Tour. It was quite a big decision to make because I had not long been out of treatment and I was still living in the hostel. I thought, “Am I ready for this? Can I do it?” But Cardboard Citizens supported me
throughout all those decisions. It was brilliant. Everybody really believed in me and supported me so I found that belief in myself again. I’ve done three tours since.
I had abandoned acting for many years, but Cardboard Citizens reinvigorated me to pursue my love of performing. Going to rehearsals and workshops was treatment for me and cathartic. Plus the work was really challenging because the issues that we were dealing with were very close to my own experience. I loved going into shelters and hostels and day centres. I found it challenging and moving; the improvising - that really stretched me as a performer and as a human being. I really enjoyed the mentoring
part of the job, connecting with people, sharing my journey with them and hopefully pointing them to Cardboard Citizens or other ways they can find themselves some support.
Cardboard Citizens has supported me, not only when I was working with them, but afterwards as well, especially in helping me get housing. I feel like I’m part of a really amazing community with an incredible personal, political, and creative agenda. Now I am very interested in developing as an artist in applied theatre. I’ve had amazing training opportunities and continue to contribute to the Company. Most recently I acted in A Few Man Fridays, which was an incredible experience.
Homelessness is a really broad term. There’s no rule about who a homeless person is, and I think it’s obscene that anybody should be homeless. I’ve seen incredible changes in myself and in others because of Cardboard Citizens. I think it’s about feeling valued, being seen, and feeling that you have a voice. What I’m gaining
in my own knowledge, practice and experience from Cardboard Citizens is beyond measure.