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Reading Girls' School

Reading Girls' School

Chelsea's Choice

Alter Ego Creative Solutions performed a powerful drama warning young people to keep themselves safe from exploitation.

All students in year 8 to 11 watched the performance, showing a dramatisation of the kinds of dangers young people can be exposed to and suggestions on how to avoid becoming a victim. The drama was hard-hitting, it needs to be as the subject matter is relevant to all young people. The girls will all be given the opportunity to discuss personal safety and how to seek help or advice if they or their friends feel vulnerable.

This is how the show was reported in the Reading Evening Post  on 6 Feb 2014:

A play aimed at highlighting the issue of child sexual exploitation will be performed for Reading secondary school pupils next week. Production company AlterEgo Creative Solutions will perform their acclaimed short play, Chelsea’s Choice, at a number of Reading schools, as well as hosting a one-off performance for parents at Madejski Stadium on Monday.

Chelsea’s Choice tells the story of three students who find the diary of a girl, Chelsea, who becomes isolated from her family and friends and is groomed by a predatory older man. In a discussion with their teacher, they attempt to understand what happened to Chelsea and how it could have been prevented.

Sean McGrath, artistic director, says: “It is a difficult subject to talk to with children. It is a heinous crime, but naivety is one of the great weapons they have.” The 35-minute play has been performed in front of 90,000 schoolchildren across the UK, with the non-for-profit company booked up until September.

“We have had a great response,” says Sean. “We have so far had 17 disclosures from children watching who have said they or someone they know are in a situation like Chelsea.” In each performance there are four actors playing nine characters, and the story is built up as a comedy with a shocking end, which shows how devastating grooming can be. The work also tackles online grooming and healthy relationships.

After each production the cast hold a 25-minute talk with the students to talk over what they have seen and make sure they understand. Mr McGrath, who also wrote Chelsea’s Choice, said: “We were commissioned to do the play and we were going to do if for about a year. “After that we were invited to a conference where parents of a child who had been sexually exploited were talking. As I was sat there listening I thought, ‘I am a dad, I have got kids we have got to do something to stop it from happening’, and because of that we have carried on doing the show.”

The theatre company has covered many social issues in its previous productions, including alcohol and drug abuse. This is the first time the group will perform in Reading. Pupils in Years Seven to 10 will have the opportunity to watch the play during its Reading school tour which starts on Monday, and parents and carers can see a free performance in the Prince’s Suite at Madejski Stadium at 6.30pm on the same day.

Parking is available outside the Stadium Megastore and no booking is required. Lead member for children’s services Jan Gavin said: “Through including the audience in the debate, and signposting support services, the play is an excellent way to tackle a difficult and, unfortunately, topical subject.

“We’d like to thank the Reading Football Club Community Trust and the secondary schools who will be staging Chelsea ’s Choice in helping us to raise awareness of this issue.”

Check the parents area for a fact sheet on how to spot the signs of Child Sexual Exploitation, or download it below.