Cyberbullying is an evolving new phenomenon that both adults and children are learning about together. Currently 87% of those aged 16-24 access the internet via a mobile device and can spend up to three hours a day on social media alone. Are our children appropriately educated and equipped to use digital technology safely? How do we reach out to the next generation in creative ways as they navigate and grow up in this digital world?
- “Hard-hitting and authentic” – high praise for Cookies
- West End production of Cookies released for Anti-Bullying Week
In response to these issues, the Pureland Foundation is supporting the Cyberscene Project – a new educational campaign designed to raise awareness of cyberbullying and combat its devastating effects on young people.
Developed by the Masterclass Trust in partnership with anti-bullying charity Kidscape, Cyberscene uses theatre to give young people a voice, to create a lasting work from their own perspective, to help and inspire others in similar situations and raise awareness of the issue.
The project draws on theatre as a proven experiential learning tool to support the mental health and wellbeing of the young people taking part by boosting their confidence, self-esteem and motivation. Armed in this way, teenagers 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 previous exposure to theatre, to the wider opportunities within the theatrical and creative industries.
To launch Cyberscene, Masterclass – the in-house education arm of the Theatre Royal Haymarket – last year 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 their experiences of cyberbullying and its effects on them and their peers.
The students worked alongside theatre professionals to share their intimate thoughts on being online; to learn from each other and be part of an empowering initiative. Their ideas were brought together by Fringe First Award-winning writer Emily Jenkins in a new play called Cookies, which follows four teenagers through their shared worlds of gaming, vlogging, instant messaging and streaming.
The first theatrical production of Cookies will feature 25 of the original students alongside established actors at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.
The production will be a landmark in the project’s legacy. Along with this play, Masterclass will be collating its research into a free resource pack to help prompt in-class discussions for schools and education providers across the UK as a way of helping to combat the ever-growing issues of cyberbullying and digital security. Further plans include streaming the play in schools during anti-bullying week.