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OnOff Stage

A new initiative in Manchester is designed to bring African and Caribbean views and attitudes to live arts venues across the city. The appointment of Ekua Bayunu as Greater Manchester's first black audience development worker has been a collaborative effort bringing together Contact Theatre, the Nia Centre and arts consortium Arts About Manchester.

Her job will focus on researching the attitudes and attendance of African Caribbean people aged 15 to 30 at theatres throughout the area. "This post promises to deliver a message to live arts venues across the city from the voices of young African and Caribbean people whose perspectives and opinions will invigorate and enrich all our experiences of live arts in Greater Manchester and beyond," said Bayunu, whose post runs until December and is funded by a Black Audience Development Bursary from Arts Council Touring.

Coming up: two week-long courses for adults offer specialist training for anyone with an interest in the theatre. Shakespeare on Stage is being led by Peter Reynolds of Roehampton Institute's department of education and Richard Hahlo of the National's education department, running July 24 to 28. Theatre Practice, from August 7 to 11, is run by Hahlo. For details, ring the National education department on 0171 928 2033.

The English Shakespeare Company's Young Shakespeare project continues until the end of term with a two-stage Hamlet programme specially adapted for junior aged children. An in-school workshop is followed by a theatre visit to a local theatre to see the play in performance. It is backed up by a teacher's pack, which includes detailed notes. To find out more, ring Christopher Geelan or Sarah Gordon on 0181 967 3961.

For those of you more interested in putting the "shake" back into Shakespeare, go no further than a theatre near you for the Reduced Shakespeare Company's bard-busting Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) - 37 Plays in 97 Minutes. Touring throughout the UK from June 30 to the end of October - keep a look-out in the local press for venue details. From July 25 to 29, they're playing the Oxford Playhouse and from August 3 to 5 at BAC in London.

Congratulations to Mountview Theatre School on its fiftieth birthday. Future plans for the school include opening a new TV studio and building a new theatre complex. Management is also hoping that Haringey Borough Council will allow Mountview the use of Hornsey Public Hall which has been lying empty for years. The school would like to apply to the National Lottery to fund a complete conversion which would create rehearsal rooms, a video and film suite and two new theatres.

* This year's international summer school at the Laban Centre in south east London from July 17 to 28 will offer courses in contemporary dance, dance movement therapy at introductory and intermediate levels, and responding to children with special needs. Details: Laban Centre, Laurie Grove, SE14 6NW(0181 692 4070).

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