The inspiring Cyberscene Project has been honoured with a prestigious award from the security industry.
The project's work – which explores the risks young people face online, from cyberbullying to online abuse – was recognised with a Security Serious Unsung Heroes Award for Best Security Awareness Campaign.
Cyberscene was launched in partnership with the Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust, anti-bullying charity Kidscape and the Pureland Foundation in 2016. Its aim is to use theatre to highlight the key concerns and issues facing young people online, and to help support those affected.
Important concerns for young people
Bruno Wang, founder of the Pureland Foundation, says: "I am grateful that the Cyberscene Project has been recognised for its work in the important area of online safety. Cyberbullying is one of the most important concerns for young people and we must do everything we can to inform, protect and support them while they are at such a vulnerable age."
Blayne George, Masterclass programme director, adds: "It is great to have the project recognised in such a wonderful way as it acknowledges the important role theatre and the wider arts play in our communities."
The Cyberscene team worked with around 150 London students from Hackney Community College, Leyton Sixth Form College, Barnet and Southgate College and South Thames College in a series of theatre workshops that explored the impact of themes such as sexting, revenge porn, online abuse, radicalisation and cyberbullying.
The result was Cookies, a new work by award-winning playwright Emily Jenkins, which follows the stories of teenagers aged 16 to 19 as they negotiate this strange and potentially dangerous new online world.
Cookies was performed by a company of students and professional actors at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in 2017, directed by Anna Ledwich. Audiences hailed the play as a "great piece of modern theatre", "authentic" and "hard hitting".
Professional support came from established artists including Dame Judi Dench, who said it "harnessed the power of theatre", and singer Lily Allen, who was an ambassador for the play.
A film of the original production has now been released for schools along with accompanying educational resources, including drama-based activities. These are aimed at helping teachers nurture important conversations with their students and provide an opportunity for them to raise any concerns.