Onoff stage

Expect "Shakespeare un-plugged, literally in your face" when you sign up for the National Theatre's new joint venture with Trustee Savings Bank.

That's what the National says about TSB First Act, the drama strand of TSB Artsbound, the bank's extensive arts and education programme. First Act will be taking Shakespeare's plays, interactive workshops and purpose-designed classroom resources to secondary school children throughout the country.

Those schools that registered last spring will be invited to a teachers' conference at the National Theatre in November, which will include masterclasses with leading directors and practical demonstrations of text into performance, with the focus on active approaches to teaching Shakespeare. From January to March 1998, there will be regional Inset days and a tour of an interactive production of Twelfth Night, with pre- and post-production workshop and questions and answers.

In addition, participating schools receive an extensive teaching pack and video, which provide teachers with a framework for the study of Shakespeare's plays. To ensure that the scheme meets the requirements of key stage 3 and GCSE English and Scottish equivalents, TSB has engaged specialist consultants Educational Communications. Schools that would like to know more about TSB First Act or any of the other Artsbound schemes covering visual arts and music should contact Educational Communications on 0171 453 4691.

Today is the last chance to catch a double bill by a special group of young people. A 10-day residential youth theatre training course in Ruthin, North Wales, in August has resulted in productions of Ubu Roi and The Shoemaker's Wonderful Wife. They were performed by 35 young people from Denbighshire, Conwy, Flintshire and Wrexham, and directed by Sarah Alexander and David Zoob, formerly director of Theatr Clwyd's Young People's Theatre, which, like Clwyd itself, no longer exists. What made the whole project special was that, since the demise of Clywd's long-established youth theatre, this was a unique opportunity for young people in the area to get stuck into high-quality drama work. The performance tonight is at Denbigh High School. For more details, ring Flintshire County Council's Information Department on 01352 754202.

The University of Leeds, with the West Yorkshire Playhouse, offers five part-time accredited courses in theatre appreciation, production and policy. They are designed to be studied individually on a for-interest basis or combined to form a continuing education certificate in theatre studies. All tutors have professional theatre experience. The university also runs a post-graduate certificate in community theatre, Creative Drama for Change and Dramatherapy. More details from the School of Continuing Education on 0113 233 3222.

Swan Song is a new comedy monologue about school politics, fun runs and a teacher's battles with pupils. It's written by writer and former special needs teacher Jonathan Harvey and performed by Rebecca Front and was a hit at Edinburgh. It's at the Hampstead Theatre from September 24 to October 4. Box office 0171 722 9301.

Reva Klein

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