The experience of young people affected by cyberbullying has been documented in Cookies, a new play written by Emily Jenkins, which explores the world of gaming, vlogging, instant messaging and streaming as the online and offline worlds of four teenagers collide.
Cookies is the result of the Cyberscene Project, a creative, hands-on learning initiative that uses theatre to support young people’s health and wellbeing. It has been developed jointly with anti-bullying charity Kidscape and Masterclass, the in-house education arm of the Theatre Royal Haymarket.
To create the Cyberscene Project, Masterclass joined a team of professional theatre-makers with 120 students aged 16-19 from South Thames College, Leyton Sixth Form College, Hackney Community College and Barnet and Southgate College and asked them to come up with a play that explored and shared their experiences of cyberbullying and its effects on them and their peers.
The production is the first landmark in the Project’s legacy. Along with this play, Masterclass will be collating its research into a free resource pack for schools and education providers across the UK as a way of helping to combat the ever-growing issues of cyberbullying and digital security.
At its heart, the Cyberscene Project is about using theatre to give young people a voice, to create a lasting work from their own perspective, to help and inspire other young people in similar situations and to raise awareness of the issue.
The Project uses theatre as a proven experiential learning tool to support the mental health and wellbeing of the young people taking part by boosting confidence, self-esteem and motivation. Armed in this way they should be better able to stand up to cyberbullying, to identify and support those who are experiencing it and indeed support the bullies themselves to find help.
It will also introduce young people, who may or may not have had much exposure to theatre, to the wider opportunities within the theatrical and creative industries.