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OnOff Stage

Ten of the country's most innovative youth theatre groups have been chosen to take part in the BT National Connections Showcase which starts at the end of June.

For months, they and others have been rehearsing and performing in schools, theatres and rather less usual venues, including a stone quarry, in preparation for selection assessments to participate in the first festival of its kind. Each group has chosen one of ten specially commissioned plays by playwrights which include Christopher Hampton, Snoo Wilson and Judith Johnson. The next stage is the big one, when the groups perform at the Olivier and Cottesloe in the showcase, running from June 30 to July 5. Congratulations to the winners.

The Pride Arts Festival takes place in London until the end of June with an impressive programme of events including the Pride Literary Festival featuring Larry Kramer, Bryony Lavery and Maureen Duffy, a performance by lesbian puppet company Doo Cot at the Royal Court Upstairs and downstairs, Keith Khan's Maa,, an examination of the conflict between British-born Asian youth and tradition presented by Moti Roti. For details, ring the PAFLINE on 0171 501 9994.

It has always been difficult for theatre directors to learn their trade. But two new funding schemes have been launched to enable six one-year traineeships for professional theatre directors to take place at theatres in England, beginning next autumn. The partnership between the Arts Council of England and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation will provide for half of the costs, the other half to be met by the host theatre. Participating theatres include Nottingham Playhouse, the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, and the Theatre Royal, Northampton. Two additional bursaries are being offered for year-long residencies for theatre designers. For more information on the directors' scheme, contact Marjorie James in the department of education and training at the Arts Council on 0171 973 6551. For details about the designers' scheme, ring Penny Lalloz in the drama department on 0171 973 6482.

When our great, great, great, great grandchildren open up the time capsules that were buried in 1995 under the Globe Theatre, they will find, among other things, school menus (a puzzle, no doubt, as school dinners by then will be a thing of prehistory), supermarket check-out lists, a copy of a science curriculum and letters to agony aunts.

That is what pupils from 36 schools have chosen for posterity. They have also raised Pounds 10,000 towards the building of the Globe's heavens (the painted canopy covering the stage), which is being added to the Pounds 75,000 already raised by 400 schools in 23 different countries. The total needed is Pounds 100,000. If your school would like to fundraise for the Globe, ring Alastair Tallon or Lyn Williams on 0171 620 0202.

Today, GCSE drama students from Plymouth College of Further Education present The Old Cats Whisker, a piece of reminiscence theatre, to residents of a home for the elderly that helped inspire the project.

The production is based on a collection of stories gathered from residential homes and sheltered housing projects and is being performed at the Helen Fox House in Devonport to an invited audience.

The Boots Company is sponsoring the forthcoming production of Pinocchio, an international co-production between Nottingham Playhouse and Teatro Kismet, Italy's leading children's theatre company. The play opens at the Playhouse on June 15 prior to a European tour. For booking details, ring 0115 941 9419.

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