Zoe Zontou is Lecturer in Drama at Liverpool Hope University. Her principal research interests lie in the field of socially engaged theatre with people in recovery from alcohol and drug dependency. Her research covers a wide range of topics, including autobiography in performance, addiction studies and cultural policy, which are examined through their relationship with socially engaged theatre. She has worked as a practitioner and researcher in a number of organisations, and has published in the area of socially engaged theatre research and practice. Recently, she co-published with James Reynolds the book ‘Addiction and Performance’ (2014, Cambridge Scholars).
Her current research project Staging Addiction Recovery (SAR) is a four-year research project (2012-2016) that is conducted at Liverpool Hope University. The project seeks to investigate the role of socially engaged theatre in supporting problem drug users towards their journey to recovery. It aims to advance the findings of her previous research,[i] and to critically examine the relationship between participatory theatre, recovery from addiction in alcohol and other drugs and notions of wellness. In doing so, the project explores the work of Fallen Angels Dance Theatre Company. Zontou strongly believes that an alternative form of cultural representation is needed; one which aims to silence negative stereotypes, and instead provides a more realistic approach to addiction and recovery. Moreover, this form of representation will not only allow the personal stories of addiction and recovery to be told, but will also constitute a means through which they can be validated (Zontou, 2014). She maintains:
''I regard socially engaged theatre as a form of political activism, aimed at eradicating the stigmatisation and exclusion of people in recovery, and drawing attention to their capacity not only to overcome addiction, but also to become makers of culture… and hence makers of hope and agents of change''
[i] Zoe Zontou, ‘Applied Theatre as an “Alternative Substance”: Reflections from an Applied Theatre Project with People in Recovery from Alcohol and Drug Dependency’, The Journal of Applied Arts and Health, 2:3 (2011), pp. 303-315