St Albans school collaborates with playwright for play about online grooming

Beaumont head of drama Lynsey Wallace approached playwright Mark Wheeller to produce the play about

Beaumont head of drama Lynsey Wallace approached playwright Mark Wheeller to produce the play about Breck Bednar. Picture: Meltingpot pictures - Credit: Archant

A St Albans school drama department has joined forces with a playwright to tell the story of a boy who was groomed online.

Beaumont School has commissioned playwright Mark Wheeller to write a play for Key Stage 3 pupils, which the school will produce and perform in 2019.

Supported by the Big Lottery Fund, the play will tell the story of 14-year-old Breck Bednar, who was murdered through online grooming at the age of 14. The script will be created from the words of Breck’s family and friends and produced in partnership with the Breck Foundation, which was founded by Breck’s mother Lorin LaFave to help educate young people about keeping safe online.

Mark Wheeller, whose plays are used as GCSE drama set texts, said: “I am incredibly proud to be approached to make this tragic and potent story into a verbatim play which, I believe, will prove to be a ‘career high’ for my playwriting.

“The honesty of those I’ve spoken to will make this an utterly compelling piece of theatre with important contemporary messages to convey.

“Students and teachers alike will be appalled, fascinated and keen to be involved with this play. The premiere performance by the experienced drama department at Beaumont School will offer the play a fantastic start in life.

“Commissioned plays such as this will, I believe, help the case for arts to be valued in schools across the country.”

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The project will be overseen by head of drama Lynsey Wallace, who initially approached Mark with the idea.

She said: “We are thrilled to be working in collaboration with both Mark and Lorin in tackling such a sensitive story. What an exciting opportunity for our pupils.”

The school also thanked the National Lottery players for helping to make the project happen.

Breck’s mother Lorin said: “I am thrilled for the opportunity to use my son Breck’s tragic story in an engaging, educational and creative way to further share the messages of how young people can keep safer online by recognising the signs of grooming and exploitation.

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