A GROUND-BREAKING interactive show for young people is using gaming to explore cyber security and data citizenship.

It is co-written by Rupert Goodwins – one of the young hackers involved in gaining access to Prince Philip’s BT email in the 1980s and now a technology journalist – and internationally acclaimed playwright Clare Duffy. The Big Data Show uses live performance, bespoke mobile gaming and digital tricks delivered to audience members’ handsets to spread greater understanding of the issues.

The gaming technology involved has been developed and produced by Dundee-based studio Orthrus.

Having already developed and tested the control system and digital assets with a prototype version of the project and evaluated its effects, Civic Digits Theatre Company is to bring the full version to schools across the UK next year.

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It is funded by Creative Scotland, Scottish Government and the Garfield Weston Foundation.

“The Big Data Show supports the Scottish Government’s ambitions to raise the public’s awareness of cyber threat,” said Kate Forbes MSP, Minister for Public Health and Digital Economy.

“Not only does it help ensure young people are clued up about the risks associated with sharing data online but it also gives them the valuable chance to learn about careers in cyber security.”

Pilot performances of the show have been well received.

“The whole premise of using a phone to talk about online security was brilliant. The pupils were hooked,” said drama teacher Sarah Macdonald, of the Community School of Auchterarder.

An evaluation carried out by Dr Alasdair Rutherford at Stirling University found that The Big Data Show improved audiences’ data literacy.

Outcomes of the show and its workshops included a greater understanding of the social, cultural and political implications of data and digital technology, particularly cyber bullying and privacy issues.

The pupils involved also showed a better understanding of the potential of data and digital technology as opportunities for creativity and felt “excited” about theatre as a 21st century storytelling medium.

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Some were even inspired to think about careers in data and cyber security.

“The Big Data Show took young people through a powerful process of experiential learning,” said Liz Green of YouthLink Scotland. “The ‘shock factor’ created by the show encouraged young people to critically reflect on the data they are sharing with tech companies and the potential personal consequences.

“It is a really important topic that’s not being explored enough in ways where pupils are willing to listen but the whole premise of this show which involved using their own phones meant they were hooked. I liked the fact that tech is used to talk about tech.”

The Big Data Show will open at Perth Theatre in June 2020 and move to the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, with plans to then tour the North of England. The performances in June and July, which are solely for schools, are supported by advance workshops in the spring and followed up with workshops in the autumn.

All participating schools next year will receive Continuing Professional Development sessions and access to a teachers’ pack to support the cross-curricular learning promoted by the project.

The Big Data Show, written by Duffy and Goodwins, is produced by Suzy Glass for Civic Digits, with co-producers Perth Theatre at Horsecross Arts and Unlimited Theatre.

Duffy has written the Cbeebies’ Christmas Show since 2013, adapted A Midsummer Nights’ Dream for Cbeebies in 2016, which won the Royal Television Society’s award for Best Children’s Programme, and abridged The Tempest for Cbeebies.