St Albans school begins workshops for play about dangers of online grooming

PUBLISHED: 10:11 22 February 2019 | UPDATED: 10:15 22 February 2019

Pupils have started workshopping Mark Wheeller's new play Game Over at Beaumont School in St Albans. Picture: Beaumont School

Pupils have started workshopping Mark Wheeller's new play Game Over at Beaumont School in St Albans. Picture: Beaumont School

Archant

Rehearsals are underway at a St Albans secondary school for a play telling the true story of a boy who was groomed online.

Pupils have started workshopping Mark Wheeller's new play Game Over at Beaumont School in St Albans. Picture: Beaumont SchoolPupils have started workshopping Mark Wheeller's new play Game Over at Beaumont School in St Albans. Picture: Beaumont School

The drama department at Beaumont School collaborated with playwright Mark Wheeller to create a play, called ‘Game Over’, based on the life of 14-year-old Breck Bednar, who was murdered through online grooming in 2014.

The project is supported by the National Lottery Community Fund, and is being overseen by head of drama Lynsey Wallace, who initially approached Mark with the idea.

Speaking to BBC News presenter and Beaumont parent Martine Croxall, whose child is taking part in the play, Mark Wheeller said: “I think there are a number of messages. There are messages about growing up, about being a parent, about being responsible, about safety online, and about mental health and how we deal with that.

“It’s rich with messages but the message that Breck’s mum Lorin would definitely want to get out is that safety online is just being aware of who you’re talking to, and if you don’t know them then not going to meet them in a private place where they’re not publicly accountable.”

BBC News presenter Martine Croxall interviewed Mark Wheeller about his new play Game Over at Beaumont School in St Albans. Picture: Beaumont SchoolBBC News presenter Martine Croxall interviewed Mark Wheeller about his new play Game Over at Beaumont School in St Albans. Picture: Beaumont School

The play has been written verbatim, meaning Mark interviewed Breck’s family and friends and only used their exact words to create the script.

He said: “I interviewed Breck’s mum, dad and three triplet siblings, and two of Breck’s friends. I got from them about 200,000 words and then have reduced them in a jigsaw puzzle fashion into a play of about 10,000 words.

“So it’s the story in their own words and I haven’t added any more to that.

“That’s very important to me that I did it as they want the story to be told.”

Beaumont head of drama Lynsey Wallace approached playwright Mark Wheeller to produce the play about Breck Bednar. Picture: Beaumont SchoolBeaumont head of drama Lynsey Wallace approached playwright Mark Wheeller to produce the play about Breck Bednar. Picture: Beaumont School

The script was produced in partnership with the Breck Foundation, which was founded by Breck’s mother Lorin LaFave to educate young people about staying safe online.

Lorin said: “We feel privileged to be collaborating with Mark, Lynsey and Beaumont School as they are so passionate about safeguarding young people through the arts.”

Mark has started taking part in workshops with the pupils, in preparation for the play being performed in July.

He said: “They will feel they’ve been part of something that’s incredibly special, that they will remember for the rest of their lives.”

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