After attending a Kidscape workshop which explored the experiences of 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 was generously supported by the Pureland Foundation, 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 120 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 themes raised to a deeper level to create the script of Cookies, a new play based on the students experiences and opinions.

An ensemble of students then continued to work closely with the Cyberscene creative team, using the Theatre Royal Haymarket’s stage for subsequent workshops and collaboration. They assisted on developing the marketing, directing and writing of the play, as well as advising on artwork themes, play title, and as performers.

Cookies played for two performances on 29th October 2017, and a filmed version of the live performance is available online for free, along with extensive education resources. The education resources and the Cookies film have been developed to help teachers to prompt in-class discussions, to be used as part of the AQA GCSE & A Level Drama syllabus, in the bid to help equip and educate young people against cyber bullying.

London School of Economics on Cyberscene

Dr Ellen Helsper, an expert on online interaction, was engaged by Masterclass to evaluate The Cyberscene Project.

The aim of the collaboration between Cyberscene and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) was to evaluate both the participants and the play. The participants were surveyed at different stages of the project to track their perceptions and awareness of cyber bullying. Professor Ellen Helsper's project evaluation report, Overcoming victim blaming and bystander effects through social theatre, can be viewed here.

Please see below to explore Dr Helsper's research.

Attitudes and Perceptions
Turning Points
Social Context and Support Structures
Literacy, Skills and Resilience 
Awareness, Knowledge & Risk Perception