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On the Fringe of business

TEACHERS SHOULD find it at least mildly gratifying that when the classroom doors close for the summer holidays there are others ready to carry on the work of teaching.

Arts education particularly seems to appeal, judging by the zeal youth arts leaders show in recruiting their clients.

When it comes to the Children's Shows at the Edinburgh Festival, education seems to be in retreat. In the ruthless marketplace of the Fringe, you will look hard to find any children's theatre worth the name, though there are plenty of "family" shows, dramatised books, and a crowd of monsters, ghosts and pirates to await the under-12s.

Many of the theatre companies have gone for the soft option of "interaction". Theatre managers know that parents shell out for the ever more expensive tickets one company offers the child five hours for pound;35 and that if they cannot be sure of buying their children a pleasurable theatrical experience, they will play safe by buying an enjoyable learning activity.

So, with 16 of the 110 "children's shows" promising some education for the money, the Fringe summer school is open for business.

Green Meanie is the only scientific or environmental show on offer, warding off global warming with an "ecological allegory for children".

Sleekit Productions offers A History of Scotland in 60 minutes or less. Its promise of a "fun, fast-paced hour", seems to be straight out of the Hopscotch stable.

The Rhema Theatre Company brings the Bible alive in Incredible Tales from the Miracle Book! and Terrific Tales from the Miracle Book!

Haiku For Kids assures you that "you won't have seen haiku done like this before" it sets the three-part poems to music and sends them off with a balloon.

Music gets three outings: Bang On! Junk Percussion Workshop is what it says on the tin, as is Painting Music Workshop, using classical music for its stimulus of matching sound with colour. Kidsamonium wants 6 to 14-year-olds to "experience the power and freedom of jazz" through participatory musical games.

Art and craft comes with The Bigger Picture, ticking a few boxes with "Edinburgh's past... ghosts, ghouls and giggles", while the Blun-derbus Groovy Puppetry Workshop invites children and families to a "fun-packed, practical" session.

Circus skills are omnipresent these days and Circus for Success promises a "brilliant day's entertainment with London's Premier Youth Circus training team". Be A Star In A Juggling Show tells you all you need to know, as does Flamenco for Kids, with the chance to try out costumes and instruments.

If all this skilling is too earnest, The Greatest Bubble Show On Earth lets you have honest fun with soap and water.


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