The stars of Wicked joined Ed Balls MP and Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) President Esther Rantzen at the Apollo Victoria yesterday afternoon to help launch Anti-Bullying Week 2007, which kicks off on Monday 19 November.
Nigel Planer, Susie Blake, Andy Mace, Dianne Pilkington, Kerry Ellis and Oliver Tompsett all spoke at the launch, before Pilkington and Ellis sang their duet from the musical, For Good.
The story of Wicked is pertinent to the cause of anti-bullying as it tells of Elphaba, who is demonised at college and later in life due to the green colour of her skin. Producer of Wicked Michael McCabe commented: “Everyone involved in Wicked is proud to support the valuable work of the Anti-Bullying Alliance and we are honoured to host the launch event for Anti-Bullying Week 2007 on our stage. Bullying is unacceptable wherever it occurs and we are happy to do all we can to raise awareness of the issue and help support children and young people.”
The Anti-Bullying Alliance, established in 2002, is a network of 67 organisations that aim to reduce bullying and create safer environments for children. This, the ABA’s fourth annual Anti-Bullying Week, focuses on the issue of ‘bullying in the community’, following a survey by the ABA which revealed that 35% of 7-18 year olds have been bullied outside of school.
At the launch, Ed Balls MP, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, pledged £3 million over the next two years to help train teachers and children in peer mentoring, in order to fight bullying.
Andy Mace, who plays Doctor Dillamond in Wicked, told officiallondontheatre that he had been bullied as a child. “I was your classic nerd – straight hair, glasses, a bit of a swot – and when you’re a lad and you’re a nerd you tend to get picked on quite a lot, and that’s what happened to me. It affected me very profoundly in that even up until recently I would be walking down the street and if I heard laughing from a group of kids across the road I would instantly assume they were laughing at me. You just become paranoid and it can taint your everyday life. So I’m very passionate about doing what I can to help stamp it out.”
Of Wicked’s involvement in Anti-Bullying Week, Mace said: “We get a lot of kids come up and say that they’ve really felt touched by the show. There are all sorts of very now themes in the show – racism, bullying – so it’s a very strong message and it’s the perfect show to be allied with such a cause.”
Anti-Bullying Week runs from 19-23 November.
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