Christmas is always a funny time of year for theatre. Not only does every theatre in every town suddenly host a pantomime starring yet another C list celebrity but the rest of the theatre scene tends to calm down a little as people huddle inside their coats a little deeper and opt to spend their evenings snuggled up on the sofa rather than venturing out in the wind and the cold.
I’ve become a little guilty of the winter snuggle, choosing to hibernate on more evenings that one and have had to thoroughly force myself to go out and watch some theatre. However through my hibernation I have managed to put in a lot of time researching for the cyber bullying piece (still yet unnamed).
The things I have found have been shocking. Not just the cyberbullying angle, where teenagers and indeed adults (and sadly, children) are showing unbelievable cruelty to one another, but even more terrifying is the danger that is posed to people online; frequently without them even realising.
The most valuable piece of research I have done so far actually involved me leaving the house. I attended a talk aimed at parents by a fantastic speaker called Jonathan MacDonald. The talk was to educate parents on the dangers of the internet for their children (but I suspect like me they learnt how it could also be dangerous for themselves). Jonathan talked through all of the various elements of the internet and how they could pose harm. Actually hearing someone speak so passionately about their findings was incredibly inspiring and the notes I took during the talk will no doubt be referred back to time and time again.
What did shock me was how little some of the parents knew about the dangers their children face, it made me wonder whether we ought to flip this play around entirely and aim it at the parents as opposed to the children- in some cases with children growing up in such a digital society they could probably teach their parents (and me) a thing or two!
At present we have hit a slight brick wall with Christmas approaching, for a number of reasons we’re struggling to move on from where we are now. The research is imperative to the success of the piece and with technology changing almost daily often it’s hard to catch up. We’re planning to fully get stuck in with making the piece in January, not only will we have more time as a company to focus on it, but it gives us the Christmas break to do in depth research; furthermore with less of the actors we want to cast in pantomime in the new year, we will have a far bigger pool of actors to choose from when we begin to cast the piece.