400 year 9 students participated in the theatrical performance 'High', a thought provoking and perception-changing play about the use and misuse of drugs amongst teenagers. In Rushmoor, Wavell, Calthorpe Park and Fernhill School had expressed a desire to have the play, but unfortunately did not have the funds to pay for it. With the help of the CMPP's Youth Aspiration Fund, they all were able to participate in this potentially life-changing experience for their pupils!
Peer Productions is a pioneering charity specialising in peer education through theatre. Each year they train young actors (aged 17 to 23) and work with them to develop new plays, which tour to secondary schools, teaching young people about important health and social issues. Research shows that empowering young actors to influence other young people via high quality, engaging, funny and thought provoking drama, can reach even the most disengaged learners, encouraging them to stay safe and make positive life choices.
Becoming involved in drugs can cause physical, mental and emotional harm to young people and impede their ability to achieve their aspirations. Yet the number of young people taking drugs is large and still growing. Many schools have asked for help in teaching their young people about Drug Misuse, so in the Summer Term 2016, we toured a brand new play called “High” about illegal drugs and “legal highs”.
- Explored the difference between ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ drugs.
- Explained what new psychoactive substances (NPS) are and the dangers that surround them.
- Debunked some of the unhelpful myths surrounding drug misuse.
- Explored the impact of drug misuse on friends, family and the wider community.
- Enabled young people to get help if they or someone they know is misusing drugs.
Many promising young lives are blighted by the misuse of drugs. A recent report by the Health and Social Care Information Centre shows that 16% of 11 to 15 year olds admit to having taken drugs, with boys and girls equally likely to take them. The prevalence of drug taking amongst young people increases with age, with 5% of 11 year olds reporting that they had ever taken drugs, increasing to 30% amongst 15 year olds.
Young people who have ever taken drugs are most likely to report that they got the first drugs they took from a friend. With the proportion of young people who have ever tried drugs higher in the South East than elsewhere in the UK, and local teachers surveyed requesting Peer Productions tackle this issue, our new show “High” addressed drug laws, new psychoactive substances (NPS) also known as ‘legal highs’ and the social impact of drug misuse, allowing the young people to make proper informed decisions not to let drug misuse inhibit achievement of their aspirations or those of others around them.
Peer Production performances help young people think deeply about this type of important topic. The combination of young actors, with whom the young audience can directly relate and the use of drama that holds their attention while communicating the facts can have life-changing outcomes.
100% of students surveyed enjoyed watching High.
100% of students surveyed feel more confident in positively supporting a friend who is using drugs and have more knowledge about where to seek positive support for themselves or a friend who is using drugs, as a result of seeing the play.
100% of students surveyed said seeing the play made them more confident to talk about drugs with their teachers, doctor and friends.
“All the actors did a great job, and I absolutely loved how the scene at the beginning went backwards, and how the scene was his life “flashing before his eyes”. I like how elements of the scene were shown in the others, it was really well done. It made me realise how much it ruins lives and it’s important to get help” - Student, Calthorpe Park
“Overall an amazing performance” - Student, Calthorpe Park
“I found the play very entertaining, especially nearer the end, as it had bits of humour but still very well got across the point that was intended” - Student, The Wavell School.
“The play was very deep, I understand the concepts of the play about how drugs can impact life.” - Student, The Wavell School.
“Both Staff and students were really impressed by the productions” – Teacher, Fernhill School
The brand new play for year 9 pupils was developed working with clinicians, plus drama outreach workshops delivered by Peer Productions with those with direct experience of drug misuse via the Surrey branch of Women in Prison - they have a Women’s Support Centre (WSC) in Woking. In addition, a comprehensive teachers’ pack was provided to enable teachers to support the learning following the performance.
The show at Calthorpe Park School took place on 16th June. The show at Fernhill School took place on 20th May. The show at Wavell School took place on 27th June.