Combining physical theatre with verbatim material, Friend Request draws on real life stories of the victims of cyberbullying. It invites audiences to look through the eyes of the victim, the bullies and all those who stood by and let it happen. A collaboration with Flux Liverpool Arts Festival (supported by LARC), this show was developed during workshops with young adults and made possible through financial support from IdeasTap.
We were commissioned by the festival to run ‘Cyberbullying Awareness Week’, in which we worked with youth groups across Merseyside to explore the causes and consequences of cyberbullying. The young people examined real-world sources, discussed the issue and developed scenes/short performances. Much of the material in this show was generated during these workshops.
Sam is constantly surrounded by people; at home, at school, online. Despite this, a group of school bullies are making sure he has never felt more alone. Turning to the virtual world in an attempt to escape escalating classroom taunts, Sam soon discovers that the bullies are not so easy to leave behind.
In a world consumed with technology and communication, schoolyard fights are no longer left behind at school. Home is no longer a sanctuary and it becomes impossible for Sam to out-run the bullies. They occupy his school, his house and his computer.
Throughout the show, Sam and a host of other characters grapple with issues of online harassment, personal identity and self-esteem.