What’s Happening Frankie?

“This is one of the most powerful things we have done in terms of preventative work around child sexual exploitation.” (Lisa Ambrose, Senior Service Practitioner, Barnardo’s Cymru Seraf Programme)

This summer we launched a new theatre project with Barnardo’s Cymru Seraf project. ‘What’s Happening, Frankie?’ debuted at Bryntirion Comprehensive School to 130 Year 9 pupils.

Barnardo’s Cymru asked us to make a piece of theatre to raise awareness and to be used as a preventative tool for younger teenagers around the subject of Child Sexual Exploitation.

Valley and Vale Drama Development Worker, Ali Franks, worked with a group of fantastic actors from the Atrium at the University of South Wales to devise and develop a short but provocative piece of theatre using the short animation ‘What’s Happening, Frankie?’ that Valley and Vale made with Barnardo’s a couple of years ago. I worked with the young actors intensively to develop a moving and realistic script that unpacked all the elements of the Grooming process through the narrative of young Frankie, who becomes deeply involved with the abuser, Brownie.

The performance is quite hard-hitting, so after a short break following the piece, Lisa Ambrose from Barnardo’s Cymru and Ali facilitated a discussion with the audience where we examined what was really happening during each scene in terms of making the Grooming process more explicit, and we discussed with the young people what Frankie’s or indeed our own options would be to step out of that process.

The feedback from the audience was extremely positive – many of them stating that they were unaware that the Grooming process could happen so quickly.

We are now inviting Cardiff schools to see the performance in the Autumn term and we are hoping to tour the piece across North and South Wales. We are also holding an event with Barnardo’s Cymru at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff on November 17th where there will be a chance to see the performance alongside short films and artwork created throughout the project.