Sunderland Empire’s youth theatre launches national social media and anti-bullying campaign

Sunderland Empire anti-bullying project with Creative Learning teams and Wicked production show and students from the Fusion Project
Sunderland Empire anti-bullying project with Creative Learning teams and Wicked production show and students from the Fusion Project
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Young people from a Sunderland youth theatre project have been tackling problems associated with social media and bullying as part of a national initiative.

Members of Fusion Project, Sunderland Empire’s youth theatre group, have been taking part in the Smoke & Mirrors project which is taking place at Ambassador Theatre Group venues across the country.

Sunderland Empire anti-bullying project with Creative Learning teams and Wicked production show Steven Pinder and students from the Fusion Project

Sunderland Empire anti-bullying project with Creative Learning teams and Wicked production show Steven Pinder and students from the Fusion Project

The project has been tied in with Wicked, which is currently running at the Empire, which itself deals with themes of bullying and believing in yourself.

It was launched in Sunderland before being rolled out across the country and, as part of the project, the theatre group will create their own piece of original theatre that addresses the themes of social media and bullying.

Anthony Hope, creative learning and community partnerships manager at the Empire, said: “Fusion Project is made up of children from across the city aged 11-16. The kids got to see the show for themselves, which has helped inspire them to create their own piece of theatre based on the themes. Social media and bullying is a massive thing these days and the show is great at promoting the message that young people should be proud to be themselves.

“Social media is an easy way to feel like you’re being bullied and it’s something that really affects young people. By seeing Wicked people can relate to the characters and the issues they’re going through, so it helps them feel more confident to talk about their own experiences.

Sunderland Empire anti-bullying project with Creative Learning teams and Wicked production show Iddon James and students from the Fusion Project

Sunderland Empire anti-bullying project with Creative Learning teams and Wicked production show Iddon James and students from the Fusion Project

“Drama is a great way of exploring emotion in a way that isn’t as raw as writing it down on paper.”

As part of Smoke & Mirrors, the young people also got to meet Wicked cast members Steven Pinder, Iddon Jones, Nikki Bentley, and Daniel James Greenway and had a backstage tour of the production.

Groups across the country will embark on a social media project that supports Wicked’s anti-bullying campaign which is run in partnership with the Anti-Bullying Alliance, one of the charities Wicked supports.

Michael McCabe, executive producer at Wicked, said: “We are incredibly proud to be able to support and champion the Ambassador Theatre Group’s inspiring national project, particularly as it mirrors our own long-standing commitment to raising the profile of the devastating effects of bullying in schools and society.

“We hope that all of the young people who take part enjoy this fantastic opportunity to freely and safely express themselves and share their experiences and ideas in order to address that bullying in any form is not acceptable.”

•Sunderland Empire’s Youth Theatre (Fusion) have a limited number of additional places for ages 11-16yrs. For further information about how to be part contact sunderlandeducation@theambassadors.com