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Democracy in the theatre;Arts

In a major theatre-in-education initiative, TAG theatre company is responding to the coming Scottish parliament with a three-year programme of plays and projects, designed to engage young people in the democratic process.

At the launch of TAG's "Making a Nation" project in Edinburgh earlier this month, Scottish Arts Council director Seona Reid described it as "a visionary project which has captured the imagination of young people, teachers, politicians and arts practitioners".

The minister for devolution, Henry McLeish, praised TAG's initiative and promised that "with the new parliament, young people can have a direct voice".

The company begins next month with a 60-minute version of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar for primary schools, focusing on the right to challenge the abuse of authority. In following years, Sophocles' Antigone for upper secondaries will develop the theme of personal versus public duty, and King Matt will regale primary schools with the tale of a 12-year-old who succeeds to his father's throne. Another new play for secondaries, Dr Korczak, will tell the remarkable story of the "children's republic" established in a Jewish orphanage in Warsaw, Poland, before 1939.

The first project this year, 18X, will record the experiences and aspirations of a group of first-time voters. In the autumn, a Scotland-wide drama project for upper primaries will allow children to debate topics that interest them, and through the Internet exchange information, ideas and experiences. Later, Direct Action will offer a day-long workshop for lower secondaries to examine ways of bypassing formal democracy. Finally, in 2001-2002, Young Europeans Make Nations will put Scotland's parliament into an international context.

Details from TAG, on 0141 552 4949

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