A new play tackling the issues of self-harm will tour Oxfordshire secondary schools this spring. The play, commissioned by Oxfordshire County Council and produced by Pegasus, aims to increase awareness of self-harm and help people access the right support.
The professional production ‘Under My Skin’, scripted by playwright Ali Taylor and directed by Pegasus artistic director Jonathan Lloyd is touring 28 secondary schools in March, and will be shown to year 8 and 9 pupils.
The tour forms the backbone of a public health initiative to challenge taboos about an issue thought to affect over 1 in 10 teenagers in the UK. It is hoped the play and complementary lessons will encourage pupils to be more open about discussing the topic with their peers and teachers, and inform them about how and where to access the right support.
It is estimated that there are around 100 hospital admissions due to self-harm amongst teenagers in Oxfordshire each year and the script draws on testimonies gathered by a team of young researchers who interviewed adolescents with first-hand experience of self-harm and mental health problems. The final production has been developed with the guidance of expert advisors including teachers, School Health Nurses, Oxfordshire County Council Public Health advisors, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and social services.
Hilary Hibbert-Biles, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, said:
“I am incredibly proud of the creative way our department is working with other organisations to engage with young people and their wider support networks, about an issue often seen as difficult to talk about. Working with schools to be proactive about self-harm is a tactic I hope will empower people to ask questions, talk more freely and find information and support.
Each school performance is preceded with an information pack for pupils, including an introduction to the play, the issues involved, and signposts to relevant support organisations. The play ends with a discussion with the cast members and the opportunity to speak confidentially to members of the school health team.
“Under My Skin” starts rehearsals in February and tours Oxfordshire Secondary schools from 29th February to 18th March.
Data taken from the Oxfordshire Children’s Needs Analysis 2015 and Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust records on admissions for self-harm over 2015 and 2015, for females aged 14-17 and males aged 16-17.
Under My Skin
Commissioned by Oxfordshire County Council Public Health Team
Produced by Pegasus
Script by Ali Taylor
Directed by Jonathan Lloyd
Producer Hester Bond
Bella played by Shazia Nicholls
Sean played by Edward Nkom
Ali is a playwright, screenwriter and teacher. He is currently on attachment to BFI/Origin Pictures to develop an original screenplay for BBC Films and is developing his sitcom Disaster Zones with Big Talk. His first TV script Pure Evil was developed during the 4Screenwriting programme at Channel 4. His plays include Fault Lines (Hampstead Theatre), Cotton Wool (Theatre503, Berliner Festspiele) for which he won the 18th Meyer-Whitworth Award, Overspill (Soho Theatre), Sticks & Stones and The Machine Gunners (Polka Theatre) which was shortlisted for the Brian Way Award.
Radio plays include Eight Feet High And Rising and Cinders for Radio 4’s Afternoon Play. He is currently reimagining Cathy Come Home for Cardboard Citizens for a tour later this year.
Jonathan was appointed Artistic Director and CEO in 2013. Prior to that he was Artistic Director at the acclaimed children’s venue in London Polka Theatre for 7 years. He started off his career as an Assistant Director at the Bush Theatre, was Associate Director at Soho Theatre for nine years, where he set up and ran the company’s education programme. As a theatre director, he has directed 11 plays for children and young people at Polka Theatre and many new plays at Soho Theatre and others including freelance work at the Bush, Donmar Warehouse, Barbican Pit, Birmingham Rep and Gate Theatre. Jonathan is also a writer, adapting 6 shows for children and work for children’s TV.
29 February Chipping Norton School / Burford School
1 March Icknield Community College (Watlington) /
Gillots School (Henley-on-Thames)
2 March Banbury Academy / The Warriner School (Bloxham)
3 March Wood Green School (Witney) / Henry Box School (Witney)
4 March Faringdon Community College
7 March Oxford Spires Academy / Cheney Academy (Oxford)
8 March Bartholomew School (Eynsham) / Oxford Academy
9 March Woodeaton Manor School (Oxford) / Lord Williams’ School (Thame)
10 March Blessed George Napier Catholic School (Banbury) / Cooper School (Bicester)