Student theatre show helping raise awareness of radicalisation

Synergy Project

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire students have worked with Counter Terrorism Policing (CTP) West Midlands to create a theatre production designed to help people spot the early signs of radicalisation.

The live performance piece, which has been written, produced and acted by seven Applied Theatre students, explores important topics like vulnerability, radicalisation and how to get help. 

Synergy Theatre is an adaptation of an existing Counter Terrorism training package, which uses students’ own interpretations of radicalisation. The project was developed with the support of a graduate of the BCU’s Policing degree, now working with the Counter Terrorism team.

The group of students launched Synergy Theatre with two performances to their classmates and secondary school students, as well as a number of Counter Terrorism Policing partners.

The live shows have been used to gain feedback before the performance is recorded and adapted into a digital toolkit, which will be available to schools and communities across the region.

The performance centres on Sam, a young vulnerable individual who is being radicalised online. Sam’s story navigates through changes in behaviour and identifies some of the early indictors that those closest can look out for.

The performances took place last week at the Lab in the Conservatoire, and included breaks for discussion which encouraged the audience to explore different ideas and discuss Sam’s behaviours.

There were no right or wrong answers – the aim was to provoke discussion and look at the different ways that young people can be supported.

Course Director of the BA (Hons) Applied Theatre course Peter Wynne-Willson said: “Our play about the dangers posed by extreme right-wing groups grooming and recruiting young people has been created in very close collaboration with the police and is built from research into real-life cases. The script was devised by the students, and performed by them, working after the end of their term, which is testament to their interest in and commitment to the work

“It has been a fascinating project and a great example of how theatre can address and enhance our understanding of social issues, educating and informing audiences.”

Head of Prevent at CTP West Midlands Superintendent Nick Dale added: “Presenting this training through performance allows the audience to visualise how the subtle signs of vulnerability to radicalisation can be recognised.

“The style of Forum Theatre also encourages audience interaction throughout, exploring different ideas, concerns and queries that may be presented.

“We’re really proud of the product that the students have created. They developed a script and produced the performance by drawing on their own experiences and interpretations of what radicalisation looked like for them.

“The idea to create and deliver an exclusive live performance is really innovative and we hope to see the digital toolkit used in communities across the region.”

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