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OnOff Stage

With all the fire and brimstone being hurled by politicians about truancy, it's interesting to hear of a more thoughtful approach to the problem.

As part of the government funded In-School Project initiated by Plymouth education authority, Rent a Role Theatre in Education Company, based at the city's Barbican Theatre, has been touring a project to schools designed to raise awareness of why children truant and the risks and lost educational opportunities of bunking off.

As a piece of TIE, the project, which finished this week, has allowed pupils to analyse the consequences of the choices the characters make and to explore alternative options. For further information on the project ring Sarah Pym on 0752 267131.

The deliciously named Custard Factory Theatre Company brings a musical, physical production of A Midsummer Night's Dream to Belfast Civic Arts Theatre from April 4 to 8, followed by, from April12 to 15, Aztec Theatre Company's Faustus. Both productions are offering school workshops. For further information and bookings, ring the theatre on 01232 242819.

Good news if you live in Bristol and like puppets. From April 8 to 22, Piccolo Puppets perform Jack and the Beanstalk, Parachute Theatre Co revives its popular Punk and Judy and other companies put on their shows at the Bristol Old Vic. Ring 0117 987 7877 for schedule and bookings.

A rather different kettle of puppets is being premiered at Kirklees Media Centre on April 20, when Impossible Theatre shows its automata puppet video, The Open Closing Door, made from audio-visual confessions with offenders and accounts from victims of crime. The presentation is followed by a two-hour workshop focusing on the issues arising from the play. The project will tour schools in Yorkshire and Humberside. For more information, contact Chris Squire on 01484 681262.

Playbox Theatre winds up its small scale spring tour of Alan Ayckbourn's Invisible Friends at the Civic Hall, Stratford-upon-Avon on April 5 at 7.30pm.

The story of the ordinary teenager Lucy, who revives her childhood fantasy friend because no one else in her family is interested in her, stars teenagers Sian Lewis and Vicky Wilkinson in the lead roles. Box office: 01789 414513.

Lucky is a very different sort of production about a very different subject for a play.

Presented by David Glass, it is a piece of visual theatre which uses the inner world of the autistic child as a frame to create visual poetry with lighting, sound and movement. Lucky ends tomorrow at the Young Vic. Box Office: 0171 928 6363.

The Unicorn Theatre brings back Andy Rashleigh's hilarious, multimedia Body Talk (April 4 to 15) and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (April 20 to May 14) as part of a national tour. Bookings: 0171 836 3334.

Battersea Arts Centre Youth Theatre takes Measure for Measure to the theatre's main stage from April 5 to 9. Bookings: 0171 223 5063.

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