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A decade of drama

At a time when many theatre in education companies are in crisis if not disbanded, Language Alive in Birmingham is preparing to celebrate 10 years of work in schools, with no sign of its service diminishing.

When local education authority funding looked shaky three years ago, and the company was threatened with extinction, it was the schools that rallied to save a highly valued service.

Now the company annually negotiates service agreements with more than 30 primary and junior schools in its catchment area, which includes many where pupils have a strong need for help with language development.

Artistic director Steve Ball explains: "Each of our three actorteachers has a cluster of 12 primary schools which they serve. Sometimes they work solo, sometimes share programmes or recruit another freelance actorteacher for a particular project."

The company does not need large casts of actors because the shows are participatory and it is the children who do much of the work.

Steve Ball believes that the secret of the company's enduring success is that: "Teachers are not passive observers but have a big input into our work. Every autumn, we hold a teacher-training session in the sort of techniques we use and all our programmes are devised with their help and advice."

Anniversary celebrations take place at Percy Shurmer Primary School, Highgate, Birmingham, on June 28 from 4.30pm to 5.45pm. To reserve a place, call 0121 446 4301

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