Also new for 2003 is a lively key stage 1 play, The Missing Pictures, which incorporates maths, French, problem-solving, verse and colours. Other current offerings include three key stage 2 Shakespeare workshops, based on Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest. These incorporate story-telling and drama games with questions and quizzes, and at the end of the sessions the children put on a version of the whole play using a mixture of Shakespeare's language and modern English.
Although this has been pre-scripted, the children decide how it should be acted and directed. Founder of the company Barry Lillie maintains that Shakespeare's language presents no problems if children are introduced to it at a young enough age. "We're trying to champion Shakespeare in primary schools, because children love it," he says.
At secondary level, modern play workshops built around The Woman in White and An Inspector Calls will be previewed. Also available at key stages 3 and 4 are 90-minute performances of Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth.
Black Cat was formed in 1998, but this is the first time it has appeared at the show. Based in Stoke-on-Trent, it is in demand from both primary and secondary schools. The company prides itself on delivering good-quality theatre at a price schools can afford. "We're very much an educational resource rather than simply theatre for children," says Barry Lillie. The company also produces "transition days" for pupils moving from primary to secondary school, Christmas pantos, and week-long drama summer schools.