After attending a Kidscape workshop which explored the experiences of online bullying, Masterclass acknowledged that cyber bullying was a topic of immediate concern amongst today’s most avid digital users.
As a charity organisation which places young people at the core of its work, Masterclass felt compelled to utilise its space within the Theatre Royal Haymarket as a foreground for giving young people a strong platform to voice their opinions and experiences of cyber bullying, as a vice for empowerment and outreach.
Therefore, in 2016 Masterclass Trust partnered with anti-bullying charity, Kidscape, to develop and deliver a creative, hands-on learning project, which was to use theatre to support the health and wellbeing of young people aged 16-19 affected by cyber-bullying.
The project, which has been generously supported by the Pureland Foundation,
has worked closely with students from four London colleges: Barnet and Southgate College, Hackney Community College, Leyton Sixth Form College and South Thames College.
With circa 150 participating students across the colleges, Masterclass and a team of theatre industry professionals delivered extensive workshops which explored students’ experiences, opinions and concerns around internet matters.
Playwright Emily Jenkins and Cyberscene workshop director, Guy Unsworth, collaborated with the students to both develop and explore the play's themes to a deeper level.
An ensemble of students, who will now go on to perform in the play, continued to work closely with the Cyberscene creative team; actively involved in the development of the production, using the Theatre Royal Haymarket’s stage as their platform for collaboration on marketing, directing and writing of the play, as well as advising on artwork themes and play title.
Although the world premiere of Cookies has passed, there is no intention of the project's work to end on the 29th October. On the contrary, Masterclass view the performance date as a mark of the beginning for this groundbreaking project, with ideas to continue the project's work further afield, to schools nationwide, with ongoing support from Kidscape as a point of support.
A filmed version of the live performance will be available online for free from Anti-Bullying Week (w/c 13th November) to accompany the education resources. The education resources and the Cookies film have been developed to help teachers to prompt in-class discussions, all part of the bid to help equip and educate young people against cyber-bullying.