The digital age has seen social behaviours change dramatically and the ways in which young people communicate and socialise is shifting. 87% of 16-24 year olds now access the internet via a mobile device and can spend up to 3 hours a day just on social media. In October 2016, the Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust (Masterclass) and Kidscape partnered to deliver the anti-cyberbullying driven project named Cyberscene (http://masterclass.org.uk/about/5#)
Peter Bradley, Director of Services at children’s anti-bullying charity, Kidscape, asks: “We know the internet can be exciting, informative and fun – yet it’s also a world where young people are bullied, exploited and led to harm. With such remarkable developments, are our children and younger generations appropriately educated and equipped to use the internet and digital technology safely?
Collaborating with over 100 students across four London colleges, Masterclass has used theatre-based workshop with industry professionals to explore the online issues young people face today, under the expert guidance of Kidscape.
The series of workshops has been instrumental to support the health and wellbeing of young people; to create an environment in which students can share their intimate online experiences to help educate and raise awareness to the dangers of online bullying.
Cyberscene’s Creative Producer, Rhiannon Newman-Brown, reveals that during the workshops: “The one area that seemed to be a struggle was the concept of online and offline activity, as it transpired that young people’s lives are intrinsically online and the idea of offline is not really relevant”.
It is through hearing the voices of these young students that the project’s playwright, Emily Jenkins, was able to conceive Cookies – a bold, new play which directly addresses some of the issues brought up in the workshops through live performance.
Jenkins comments: “This play has come directly from what young people shared with me about their daily online lives; and their extraordinary and terrifying online experiences. This is not my story. It’s theirs.”
Cookies follows the online and offline worlds of four teenagers whose lives collide when each are exposed to cyber bullying and a darker side to their digital lives.
The critical new play, which promises a direct insight into the digital lives of young people, heads to London’s West End for two performances only on Sunday 29th October, 2017.
Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased directly from the theatre’s website: http://trh.org.uk/whatson/cookies