Paul Danan's theatre group for recovering addicts to tour

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Image caption,
The actors meet once a week to rehearse

A theatre group set up to help people overcome ADHD, anxiety and social exclusion is deep in rehearsals for an upcoming national tour.

The Morning After Theatre Company was set up by former Hollyoaks and Celebrity Big Brother star Paul Danan.

Danan overcame his own challenges of homelessness and substance abuse and said the group was "a way of building confidence" for people.

It is hoping to take its latest production on tour later this year.

Up to 15 actors, aged between 26 and 50-years-old, meet once a week in Bristol to rehearse.

"They're all in recovery and they all want a better life. They all know they deserve a better life," Danan, who founded the company two years ago, said.

"It's so easy to stay at home and say 'these are the cards I've been dealt, I've just got to be miserable and depressed'.

"All of us suffer with depression, but now we're not because we've got somewhere to go and enjoy life a bit more."

Image caption,
Actor and reality TV star, Paul Danan, created the company two years ago

The group is currently working on a play about a homeless person being taken into someone's house and being given an opportunity to improve their lives.

Rehearsals are well underway for the play, which will tour prisons, theatres, festivals and rehabilitation units this autumn.

Panic attack

One of the actors, Tilly, has previously suffered with anxiety and said going on tour will be a far cry from when she was almost housebound, "turning a negative into a positive".

"[Anxiety] stopped me from leaving the front door, that's how bad it was, because literally you're paralysed with fear," she said.

"It's like your heart's beating so fast, it's all you can hear. I've been in public before and had a panic attack.

"I don't have the problem, or I've not had a panic attack or felt anxiety, for at least two months, it's been good."

Image caption,
The group works with people with a range of different mental health issues and recovering addicts

Another member, Chris, said: "Some of the things that we do, I wouldn't have done six months ago or a year ago, I would have struggled.

"Struggled just talking to people in an everyday scenario.

"Now I stand up in front of people. I do things that are asked of me that put me outside my comfort zone."

Danan added: "It helps me, so much, and it helps them. Two of the ladies came in and they could hardly say a word.

"Six weeks later they are doing a whole scene like real professional actors and they are saying now that they want to go out, want to leave their house, they are confident, it has changed them."

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