14 June 2018
Imagine yourself being arrested. Imagine being confined to a 2 by 3 meter cell, with nothing but a seat-less toilet, and what could only be described as a glorified yoga mat to sleep on. Imagine being interrogated, charged, and (whether you’re guilty or not) being locked up for two years in prison.
How does the possibility of that happening make you feel? Scared maybe? Well what if I told you that in this situation you’re actually a ten-years-old child. Does that intensify your feelings?
Unfortunately, this is an all too frequent reality faced by many primary school children. And with the online world becoming more and more accessible, parents are finding it harder than ever to monitor their children, who can now easily find themselves roaming the Wild West of the Internet at the click of a button. And that’s why it’s so important for children to understand that they are legally responsible for their actions from the age of ten. Whether that’s right or wrong is a totally different question of course.
Junior Justice has been produced for that exact reason, to make children aware of what could happen to them if they break the law. And Theatr Clwyd have been working hard with North Wales Police, and the ScottishPower Foundation to make sure that this production is informative, entertaining, a take on reality and free for schools to access.
The story is based in the fictional town of Bryn-Y-Môr. We follow four characters, (Llion, Megan, Jamie and George) who love nothing more than playing Fortnite together online. All seems well, until they befriend a stranger online who goes by the username RedPirate08. And suddenly, a mysterious, spray-painted smiley face starts to appear in multiple locations around town.
At the beginning, we inform the audience that one of the characters will end up in hospital, and another one will end up being arrested. We interview the characters one by one, as the children in the audience work as our detectives, and decide on which character we should arrest. That character is then trialed at court, before the children make a decision on whether they’re guilty, or not guilty. Who is RedPirate08? Will they be found guilty or not? The answer is almost never the same.
The children have been fantastic so far; Always engaged, and filled with excitement. It’s such a satisfying feeling when you see their jaws drop at the discovery of a new piece of evidence, or to hear the entire classroom gasp at the shocking revelation of how the justice system works. And at the end of every production, after a character is voted guilty or not guilty, we’re always asked, “did we get it right?” And that’s when we get to say, “We’ll never know for sure.”
Not only do I hope this production will help keep children out of trouble. But I also hope it starts getting them interested in the law. Who knows what they could grow up to be, or what they could end up changing in the future.
Someone once told me, that if I could find a career in which I could be a student and a teacher at the same time, then I’d know for sure that it’s the right career for me. And working on Junior Justice with Theatr Clwyd has been so rewarding in that regard. Not only do I get to perform and do what I love to do as an actor. But I also get to teach children, and learn about the justice system myself. And if that isn’t enough to confirm that I’m in the right job, one of the children approached me after a performance and said, “You should be an actor”. I told him I’d think about it, and thanked him for the advice.
– Sion Eifion