A collaborative theatre project about cyberbullying is being staged at the prestigious Theatre Royal Haymarket.
Cookies, written by Emily Jenkins, explores the world of gaming, vlogging, instant messaging and streaming as the online and offline worlds of four teenagers collide. It is being staged on October 29.
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Drawing on the experiences of 120 students aged 16-19 from South Thames College, Leyton Sixth Form College, Hackney Community College and Barnet and Southgate College, Cookies, a result of the Cyberscene Project, explores young people’s experiences of cyberbullying and its effects on them and their peers.
The Cyberscene project is supported by the Pureland Foundation, anti-bullying charity Kidscape and Masterclass, the in-house education charity of the Theatre Royal Haymarket. At its heart, it aims to give young people a voice, create a legacy from their own perspective, help and inspire other young people in similar situations and to raise awareness of the issue.
The students have worked with Masterclass and a team of professional theatre makers to create the play, scripting it through a series of theatre workshops.
The Project will use theatre, a proven experiential learning tool, to support the mental health and wellbeing of those young people taking part by improving self-awareness, and boosting confidence, self-esteem and motivation. This gives them the necessary tools to stand up to and overcome cyberbullying, be able to identify and be supportive of those who are experiencing it, support those who are bullies so they receive the assistance they need and to offer pathways to support and guidance if they themselves are bullies.
The Project will endeavour to raise much needed public awareness of the seriousness of cyberbullying and the effects it is having on young people so parents, teachers and the wider community are also able to identify and support those in need.
And 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.
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.