Drama graduates help youngsters tackle bullying

Drama graduates from the University of Derby
Drama graduates from the University of Derby

Drama graduates from the University of Derby have been inspiring young people to tackle bullying in schools.

Jamie Hind, Philippa Buchanan, Lauren Morton and Rachael Hammond, who formed the Discovery Team Theatre Company after finishing their degrees in 2013, have just completed their first professional month-long tour of primary schools.

The company was awarded £16,000 worth of funding from the Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner to tour their piece The Dilemmas of Pirates, which they performed to more than 1,200 Derbyshire-based primary school children.

The group is hoping to have made a real impact on the young people, showing them the impact of gang culture, not only on themselves but the outside community, leaving them empowered to make the right decisions and knowing who can help them.

Lauren, of Discovery Team Theatre, said: “Bullying is a real problem and can have a long-lasting effect on young people. We want to raise awareness and find solutions through the arts.

“We used our performances to take the children on a journey, introducing them to characters that have been the victims of theft and letting them decide whether the victims get their possessions back or not.

“This allowed the children to see the consequences of their actions played out in front of them. They then looked deeper into the subject of gangs, looking at why people join gangs, what happens and who influences the choices we make.

“We had some brilliant responses from children, such as ‘just because you are bad it doesn’t mean you can’t change’, ‘I realised our gang is wrong and I want to leave’ and ‘it has made me think about how I have been treating others’.

“It is amazing to be given the opportunity to use the arts to make a positive effect on the lives of young children and also the Derbyshire community.”

Jamie, Philippa, Lauren and Rachael were Creative Expressive Therapy/Joint Honours Degree students who took Theatre Arts applied drama modules at the University-run Derby Theatre.

During their studies, the four were part of a year group which put together a programme to tour schools which ranged from tackling issues such as self-harm, mental health issues, peer pressure and bullying across Derbyshire, working with more than 600 young people.

They decided to stay together after graduating and joined the Derby Theatre graduate theatre scheme, where they are now mentored and supported to continue to develop as artists, as well as running the Discovery Team Theatre.

The interactive piece they performed, which is aimed at Years 5 and 6, looked at the impact of gang-related anti-social behaviour on both individuals and the community, and how children can take a stand against peer pressure.

Lauren added: “We were delighted to receive the backing of the Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner at a time when funding towards the arts is being cut back. The aim of the project is gang prevention, and we hope that participating in the piece will enable children to recognise and avoid problematic situations that may arise in the future.”

For more information, visit: http://discoveryteamtheatre.com/