Anna Ledwich, 2015 Olivier Award nominee, will direct Cookies; a groundbreaking new play by Emily Jenkins which aims to raise awareness of cyber bullying. 

Cookies has been commissioned and developed for The Cyberscene Project; an unique theatre initiative created by the Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust in partnership with Kidscape and supported by Pure Land Foundation.

Inspired by the true online experiences of 120 students, this pioneering new play by Fringe First Award winner Emily Jenkins, promises to take us on an astonishing digital journey that questions the effects and consequences of cyber bullying;

“The internet is their battleground.
London their surround sound.
YouTube their statement maker
– their whatsit –
manifesto maker.” 

In a world of gaming, vlogging, instant messaging and streaming, the online and offline worlds of four teenagers collide when each are exposed to cyber bullying and a darker side to their digital lives.

In October 2016, the Cyberscene team went into four London-based further education colleges and began scripting the play through a series of theatre based workshops. In this supportive environment, over 100 young students worked alongside theatre professionals to share their intimate experiences of being online; to learn from each other and to be part of an empowering initiative which aims to address the impact of cyber bullying and the wider digital realm. The final production will feature 25 of the original 100 students as an ensemble alongside a cast of established actors who will be announced at a later date.

It is through hearing the voices of these young students that Emily Jenkins was able to conceive Cookies, a bold play which directly addresses some of the issues brought up in the workshops through live performance. 

“For those who have grown up with the internet it has become almost as fundamental to daily life – as elemental as oxygen”, Jenkins commented.

“We are still discovering the rules and intricacies of existing within this world; yet it is young people themselves who are most aware of the difference it makes. Before we tell them what they should do or how they should behave we need to listen to what they have to say. This is not my story. It’s theirs.”

The performance taking place at the Theatre Royal Haymarket is the first landmark in the project’s legacy. Blayne George, Programme Director at Masterclass added;

“This project doesn’t end on 29th October; on the contrary that’s where it begins. Along with this important new play we will be collating our research into a free resource pack for schools and education providers across the United Kingdom as a way of helping to raise awareness and combat the ever-growing issues of cyber bullying and digital security.”

In addition to directly supporting young people, the Cyberscene Project is also about helping adults understand the complexities of cyber bullying and engage appropriately with younger generations. Lauren Seager-Smith, CEO of children’s charity Kidscape, said;

“It’s vital that as adults seeking to support children with bullying issues we strive to understand their lives and the situations they face.  This enthralling performance will challenge us to engage on a much deeper level with young people, many of whom stand in the front line in the war against cyber bullying and online abuse. It tests our assumptions, urging us to explore their realities and work with them to find new solutions.”

Cyberscene has been created under the artistic guidance of renowned British theatre director, Jonathan Church CBE.

Dr Ellen Helsper, Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor in the Media and Communications Department at the LSE, is overseeing an evaluation of the project which links with her wider research into the subject area.

Cookies will play at the Theatre Royal Haymarket for two performances only on 29th October 2017 where tickets are strictly limited. For more information and tickets, please click here

For more information on the Cyberscene project, please visit the Masterclass website here