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Flo Drake has a gravelly voice and a wicked sense of humour. Which is useful, because she is playing the Wicked Fairy in a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story, And Then She Woke Up. Actually, she is one of a pair of wicked fairies, working in tandem with 13-year-old Terri Mason. Flo is old enough to be Terri's great-grandmother, and she is confined to a wheelchair, but their combined malevolence towards the princess, leading her to prick her finger and so fall asleep for 100 years, is delicious. They close the trap with a gleeful chorus of "Bingo!"

These two have been meeting weekly since January at the Sam and Annie Cohen day centre in Clapton, east London, along with 14 other Year 8 pupils from the Skinner's Company school for girls, and seven other women who attend the day centre. They have been working with the intergenerational arts charity Magic Me on a script written especially for them by the directors, Sue Mayo and Imogen Ashby, and will perform the result at the day centre today, and next Wednesday at Sutton House, the National Trust property just down the road in Hackney.

Michelle Hight, head of Year 8 at the school, and Clare Dejode, the learning mentor who has been following developments, say they are impressed by how much the girls have learned to relax with their older colleagues. To begin with, the teenagers expected the older people to be "fragile" and were delighted to discover they were "really up for it". One pupil who began reluctantly has even said she now enjoys performing arts.

There is a definite sense of fun as pairs and mixed groups giggle together. The music for the warm-up session is provided by one of the seniors, a Rod Stewart devotee who gets out of her wheelchair to move to the beat.

Sometimes a teenager is deputed to give an older lady a well-timed poke to make sure all the lines get said at the right time. Everyone is focused on the all-too-near performance date, but this will be only one outcome; as well as the fun of preparation and greater understanding of each other's needs, the two groups have swapped thoughts and ideas on the nature of beauty and their hopes for the future.

Magic Me has produced a handbook, Sharing the Experience, as a guide to setting up intergenerational arts projects. Information about this, tickets and the work of the company: 020 7375 0961.

Theatre is expensive, but some professional companies are making an effort to be more accessible. Young people within striking distance of Leeds can now see a play for less than the cost of a cinema ticket. TheWest Yorkshire Playhouse has just launched a scheme to allow anyone aged 26 and under to buy tickets for pound;3 each on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The Wizard of Oz is the current attraction. Tickets: 0113 213 7700.

In London, every resident in the boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark has the right to one free ticket at the Young Vic each season. Dr Faustus, starring Jude Law, has just opened here. Tickets and information: 020 7633 0133.

Lack of cash may cause the Little Angel Theatre in Islington to close its doors. Many London children have been introduced to theatre at puppet shows at this delightful venue, where the Japanese folk tale The Peach Child is being revived with puppets designed by Simon Auton, film sequences, authentic music and a dancer. Despite the company's reputation, no core funding is available for the moment, so it may be as well to catch the tale of Momotaro, the boy who is discovered inside a miraculous peach, while you can. Tickets: 020 7226 1787; information: Opera is even more expensive, but 900 primary school children of all abilities in 14 schools in West Sussex and Surrey will not be worrying about that as they perform in The Selfish Giant alongside professional singers and musicians this month. Opera Brava members have been holding workshops and rehearsals in the schools for three months, taking children through vocal and physical warm-ups and dramatic sessions and teaching them about costume, scenery and opera history. For information about the work of the company: 01444 443060; Disaffected and disabled children are among those working with Opera Brava.

It is a truism that the arts can provide new opportunities, instil confidence and open doors, whether in lessons or outside school time. The British Dyslexia Association knows this and is providing children and students up to the age of 18 with a chance to demonstrate their creative strengths. As I See It is a competition with categories for writing (prose, poetry or an essay), painting and drawing, video and photography, all of which have to be submitted by July 31. After regional judging, cash prizes and certificates of achievement will be awarded in each category.

Actress Susan Hampshire, Olympic swimmer Duncan Goodhew and author Ken Follett are all supporting the project. For information: 0118 966 8271;; Heather Neill

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