PRESS Play Field Research Day in Ghent


One and a half years ago, GEMH Lab's co-director Hanneke was approached by the creative minds at Kopergietery—a theatre collective stationed in Ghent, Belgium—to help shape an interactive theatre play for kids about the virtual world. At the time, our small delegation from GEMH traveled to Ghent to conduct focus groups with kids 8-12 to listen to their stories and experiences around social media and smartphones.

In the year following our visit, Kopergietery used the qualitative data we gathered in 2021 to develop PRESS Play, in which the themes of identity, control and agency in the virtual world are subtly explored. Kids are given controllers to influence the progression of the story, and get to experience being in control ánd losing control over the virtual world on the stage before them.

Naturally, Hanneke and I went to see it for ourselves as well! We traveled back to Ghent to experience PRESS Play ánd ask visiting kids and youth what they thought of the show and social media. With the survey and interview data we are gathering around the play performances, we will be able to get more insight on children's feelings about social media, and whether the performance has brought them any insights. 

We loved the performances of the amazing Yemi Oduwale and Marthe Schneider, but we are biased, of course! More important is that all the kids we spoke to highly enjoyed the show, and some even came to visit the performance for a second time so that they could experience other choices being made during the show. The play has already been brought to theatres all over Belgium, Germany, and Austria, and will soon be showing in Switzerland as well.

Are you a theatre programmer for a youth theatre and are you interested in getting PRESS Play to be shown at your own theatre? Please reach out to myself at [email protected], or Hanneke at [email protected].


Nastasia Griffioen
Chief Scientific Officer

Nerd, is fascinated by the brain even more than your average zombie, into etymology and reading, drawn to anything tech-related, especially artificial intelligence. Wants to explore social tech (such as social media) and how these relate to young people's wellbeing.


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