Leave pantos behind, and on with the drama

Judging by the silence that falls over children's theatre at this time of the year, you might think the actors and stage crews are still sleeping off the fatigue of the pantomime season.

Some, however, are facing up to the new term with a sense of duty.

TAG Theatre Company is sharpening up Knives in Hens. It has little to do with cranberry sauce but much to do with lust, betrayal and murder in a potent story involving strong language and scenes of a sexual nature.

For these reasons, TAG recommends David Harrower's play, first performed in 1995, for audiences of 14 and above.

There is an extensive education programme of school workshops, lecture demonstrations, training for teachers and free online teaching resources on offer. The production is designed to be of particular use for Higher drama and English.

TAG's artistic director, Guy Hollands, and his cast of three - Rosalind Sydney, John Kazek and Sam Heughan - start their tour on February 3 in Glasgow before setting off around the country.

For younger children, the company is going on from its epic three-year "Building a Nation" programme with its natural sequel, "Global Citizens", which it offers in collaboration with UNICEF in Scotland.

Last term 11 primary schools took the programme and this term the company again offers an eight-week residency for P5 to P7 classes, developing the drama work for the pupils and enriching the teacher's creative techniques.

Virginia Radcliffe's company Licketyspit ate so modestly over Christmas with Quangle Wangle at Edinburgh's Traverse that she is already preparing to serve Magic Spaghetti for primary youngsters.

There was a time when children's theatre food meant buns, sweets and comfort foods of all kinds. The witch Strega Nona beguiles citizens of Plain with delicious salads. (How very health conscious.) All would be well, were it not for a kind of sorcerer's apprentice accident with the pasta.

Schools wishing to get knee-deep in spag with the cast of four in this "hilarious, sensory and site-specific" entertainment, should contact the company. Strega Nona starts cooking in March.

Just when you thought the pantomime season was over, the estimable Catherine Wheels Theatre Company announces that Cinderella's Sisters will be taking to the road in May and June.

Playwright Mike Kenny allows these wicked but misunderstood sisters to put their side of the story, how they were the dancing queens of the ballroom, their foxtrots and tangos a joy to behold, and how Cinderella sneaked the terpsichorean prize.

It is a story of ambition, broken dreams and sibling rivalry. Artistic director Gill Robertson says it is for eight year olds, but that won't keep us older ones away.

TAG Theatre Co, tel 0141 552 4949www.tag-theatre.co.ukLicketyspit, tel 0131 556 6637www.licketyspit.comCatherine Wheels Theatre Co, tel 0131 653 4266 www.catherinewheels.co.uk

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