Posted: 11 March 2016

‘She is real. This happened. Nobody helped her’

I'm Jo, a teacher at Portsmouth College.

I was lucky enough to see the play Firebird during its sold-out live run at Hampstead Theatre, alongside a group of young theatre students.  

It isn't always easy to get a group of 16 year olds to engage with a play, especially after a long trip to London.

Their reaction to Firebird was nothing short of incredible. As we headed back to the tube after seeing the play no one spoke. 

The majority were in tears and a few of the girls sat holding hands.

Students' responses to the powerful play

Once we made it to the train, thankfully they started to open up. These are some of the things they said:

'Knowing that the character is real, that she represents girls who have lived through this, is horrific. This was in my head all through it. She is real. This happened. Nobody helped her' - Charlotte.

'It was phenomenal. I see the world differently now. I had heard about Rochdale but I didn't really understand before. How could that have been allowed to happen?' - Fay.

'I hated the main character in the first scene. I knew girls like that when I was at school but what happened to her was unbearable. She was just a lost kid who fronted everyone out. How could anyone do that to a young girl? That last scene killed me. I feel a bit ashamed that I judged her so much at first' - Courtney.

Educating through theatre

Needless to say the students have now all taken action and joined The Children's Society's Seriously Awkward campaign. 

But it hasn't stopped there. They have also sent an email to go out to the Heads of Drama at our local secondary schools urging them to watch the free broadcast of the play. 

Their view is that teenagers across the UK should see this play and as a secondary school teacher, I really agree with them.

Whilst it is not strictly a theatre-in-education piece, it serves the same purpose as it doesn't patronise, is very direct and it feels completely authentic. 

The discussions I have had with my AS Drama group back at college have been incredibly thoughtful and mature and have inspired me. 

The idea that the play could start a conversation with teenagers on this crucial issue is fantastic.

Watch the play

You can watch the play at Trafalgar Studio and find out more on the Hampstead Theatre website

By Jo Field - Guest bloggers

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Posted: 1 January 1970