The world premiere of Emily Jenkins’ pioneering new play Cookies is being supported by Lily Allen, Ted Reilly, Maddy Hill and Lady Viola Grosvenor, who will act as Ambassadors to Masterclass’ Cyberscene Project – a venture which uses theatre to tackle cyber bullying.
Cyberscene is an inspirational theatre initiative which supports the health and wellbeing of young people affected by cyber bullying. Through a series of theatre-based workshops, the project has explored the key concerns and issues facing young people in today’s digital landscape, collaborating with 120 students across four London colleges.
25 of the original 120 students will perform alongside a cast of established actors in Cookies, directed by Olivier Award nominee Anna Ledwich.
Cookies explores the risks faced online, how their effects can accumulate beyond control and how solidarity can be found in a combination of online and offline interactions. Shedding light on sexting and revenge porn, as well as showing the devastating effects of repeated and accumulative verbal abuse through text messages and online comments, Cookies clearly illustrates the rampant nature of online communications and the serious legal and lasting implications which thoughtless behaviour online can have. While looking both at the positive ways young adults socialise and learn online, the play also touches on the negatives of the internet, including grooming, catfishing and radicalisation, helping to explain the extremes that can happen behind the anonymous screen.
Lily Allen, Ted Reilly, Maddy Hill and Lady Viola Grosvenor will each take on a role in supporting the students involved with the Cyberscene Project by listening to their experiences, taking part in the Cyberscene workshops, offering advice and helping raise awareness of these issues.
For Lily Allen, the project is a chance for people to talk more openly about their online experiences. She says:
“As someone who’s well aware of the potentially distressing aspects of being online, I’m thrilled to be working with and supporting the Cyberscene project and such a vibrant, inspiring group of young people. I believe that allowing them to tell their stories and share them so widely through the play Cookies will equip us all with the tools to combat the adverse effects of cyber bullying head-on.”
Ted Reilly, familiar to many as ‘Johnny Carter’ in EastEnders, met the students involved to hear their experiences of cyber bullying which inspired Cookies. He comments:
“Theatre has an unrivalled power to advocate change by creating communities of impassioned people ready to challenge your perceptions. Watching such vibrant, enthusiastic young students working together, listening to each other and learning from each other was totally inspiring. Their experiences of cyber bullying will be immortalised in a script which will go on to be spoken by others and which will hopefully inspire a wider awareness into some of the digital issues facing them. This is exactly why I’m so proud to be part of Cyberscene”.
Speaking about the importance of the Cyberscene project, actress Maddy Hill says:
“I think we need to encourage people to talk more openly about their online experiences. Victims of cyber bullying aren’t always confident enough to tell someone what they’re going through. Cyber bullies rely on the anonymity to fashion fear – they think they are untouchable. It’s our duty to be there for those suffering and to encourage parents, teachers and guardians to talk more openly with young people about their online experiences. This is exactly what Cyberscene is doing.”
Lady Viola Grosvenor comments:
“I am exceedingly proud to be an ambassador for Kidscape and this performance. Cyber bullying is an issue that needs as much attention as possible because it is affecting children in every corner of the world. Cookies is a vitally important performance that cannot be missed.”
Cyberscene has been created by the Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust in partnership with The Pureland Foundation and children’s charity Kidscape. The project has been delivered under the artistic guidance of renowned British theatre director, Jonathan Church CBE.