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An 'off with her head' experience

DRAMA 5-14 By Irene Rankin Hodder Stoughton Pounds 19.99

What a nice lot of children! Come and sit down. Once upon a time, you know, drama teachers wore flared trousers and banged tambourines to get you to freeze. Can you remember that little book that drama teachers used to carry around in their pockets all those years ago? That's right. It was Teaching Drama by R N Pemberton-Billing and J D Clegg. Remember how the boys and girls in the book all washed their faces and cleaned their teeth and went on a lovely picnic during drama? Not a real one, silly! They mimed it, didn't they?

Of course, this was long, long before that nasty national curriculum came along and began interfering with all our lovely exploring and experiencing. Now, if we want to play Mummy Bears and Daddy Bears in drama we have to pretend that we are "exploring simple movement and making decisions". Do you think the Three Bears would find that a bit daft?

So isn't it marvellous that Irene Rankin has written a book that talks about levels and attainment targets but actually lets us all go to the seaside in drama again? Be careful - don't get cut off by the tide!

Just think children, if your teacher buys this book you may find yourselves hunting buried pirate treasure ("enjoying a lively experience") or becoming the priests and priestesses of the goddess Isis (er, collective worship?). When you are older you could go with Perseus - in role, natch - to cut off the Medusa's head in drama. If you do, do not look at the Gorgons even if you are invisible! All right, when I bang the cymbal, cut off her head and put it in the bag! Freeze!

David Hornbrook is Arts Inspector for the London Forough of Camden

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