Substance Misuse the Musical – an interview with Sonya Hale

Living life on the edge – dreams are born, possibilities are endless and the magic happens: Sonya Hale, 2012 (centre pic)

Recently I went to see a very powerful play entitled Substance Misuse the Musical put on by the Outside Edge Theatre Company. One of the main writers and stars of the show Sonya Hale has kindly agreed to an interview. Here she is talking about her experience of substance misuse and why creativity is important in both recovery and everyday life. 

How did you get in to the Outside Edge Theatre Group?
I went to an outside edge performance, saw the magic at play and caught the bug immediately and now i’m just riddled with it!

Tell us about the play Substance Misuse – you had a hand writing some of it?
Everyone at Outside Edge is in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction so the subject matter -‘Substance Misuse the Musical’ came straight from the heart. We all arrived in recovery with a vast array of skills and talent – most of it latent and deadened by addiction. Outside Edge opens the flood-gates to allow creativity to blossom and flourish. Thanks to a whole lot of love from each other and an atmosphere of support. The skill and talent is as vastly varied as wonka chocolates. Pretty colourful and chaotic at times. Luckily we have a skilled director, Phil Fox (pictured below right) who pieces together everyone’s contributions into a plot and endeavours to keep the peace.

You played a very powerful part in the play.. tell us more about the character and how you got in to the role?
Phil is very open to suggestions and I have always had a burning desire to write. I just picked up my pen and started writing, largely inspired by Outside Edge. I am just over a year in recovery from long term, full-on addiction. I picked up drugs as a kid and was flat out for twenty years since the age of thirteen. I was homeless and slept rough for years and everyday was about getting more and more drugs and alcohol. I hurt family, friends, loved ones and experienced alot of loss – self respect, identity, self-worth, all that stuff, so it’s all pretty close to my heart and very raw. My character is a part of me I guess. Addiction, obsession, violence, revenge…all that. I find that expressing this stuff, these feelings, creatively is hugely therapeutic and cathartic for both us performers and the audience. Blimey, I sound ever so morbid. The best bit about living on in the Outside Edge is the laughs and the humour and the being daft and silly. Ultimately we do it for the love of it, because it’s damn good fun, it’s play after all. Bringing the dark to light.

Mark Rylance – was in the audience and adored the show – that must have made you feel amazing!!?
Mark Rylance, I know, amazing!!! What an honour. I tried unsucessfully to get tickets for Jerusalem but, alas, it was sold out. He is a true star. Not in an X-Factor kinda way – like, proper, in a meaty-substance kinda way, skill! And he loved it. How good is that? He commented alot on the talent and the rawness and, he said I mustn’t stop writing, I’ve got diamonds in me – charmer I know – but there’s a compliment I wont be forgetting.

Mark Rylance: ‘the play is outstanding. No one currently on the English or American stage is doing this kind of work.’

You are now clean from substance misuse yourself – can you tell us a bit about your story – and how creativity has helped you?
 I arrived in recovery nigh on unable to talk or stand up straight or look anyone in the eye. I was so full of fear and self-hate. Largely thanks to Outside Edge I feel like I’ve found my calling – something that I truely love. They’ve all known me since I arrived. Like a well stunned rabbit and they have been there every step of the way to help me grow. The Outside Edge Theatre Company is open to anyone who wishes to take part in whatever capacity. Living life on the edge – dreams are born, possibilities are endless and the magic happens.

The Outside Edge Theatre is now touring with it’s brand new play Double Whammy 
June 14 at 8:00pm until June 16 at 10:00pm at


1 Comment

  1. Rachelmarsh
    November 22, 2015 / 10:18 pm

    Hi sonya , wow im so proud of you chick. Your stage project sounds amazing! Love rachel from bath.. remember me? Xx

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