Oh yes they are, they're back. It's panto time again in case you hadn't noticed and since you can't beat 'em, you may as well join 'em. To help you come to terms with the blasted things and have a rollicking good time in the process, the Theatre Museum is running family pantomime workshops from December 19 to January 13. Visitors to the Museum in Covent Garden, London, can do make-up (midday and 3pm) and costume sessions (12.30 and 4pm) as well as have a crack at playing a dame or principal boy. Theatre Museum: 0171 836 7891.
Action Transport Theatre Company is taking The Arabian Nights to community venues all over the northwest of England. Neil Duffield's adaptation and music by Matthew Baker have been commissioned by the company. To book for the show, which winds up in Winsford on January 9, ring 0151 357 2120.
In and around Sunderland, a very different kind of panto is being toured to schools and community venues. Flabagast Arts is a co-operative of three performing arts students who have created their own travelling theatre company with the aim of making the arts more accessible to the wider community. Thanks to support from Sunderland City TEC and the Prince's Youth Business Trust, among others, the all woman trio is touring its production of Hansel and Gretel until the end of January. For more information about this and other Flabagast programmes, ring 0191 419 3336.
Before you break up for Christmas, you might like to tell stagestruck students that applications for the 1998 National Youth Theatre season must be in by January 23. The NYT is looking for aspiring actors and technicians between the ages of 14 and 21. Auditions and interviews of about 3,000 applicants will be held early next year in towns and cities up and down the country. Those who are accepted will be offered a place on acting or technical courses during the summer at NYT headquarters in north London. Applicants should write to The Company Manager, National Youth Theatre, 443-445 Holloway Road, London N7 6LW enclosing two A4 stamped addressed envelopes and a cheque or postal order for Pounds 6 before January 23. A new telephone hotline for would-be applicants has been set up to give further information. The number to call is 0845 603 9063. Calls are charged at local rates.
Calling secondary teachers. Shakespeare in the Contemporary Classroom is the title of a conference to be held at Shakespeare's Globe on January 17. Organised by Globe Education and the Institute of Education, it offers workshops and a keynote speech by Rex Gibson. Pounds 20 (students Pounds 15). Information: Fiona Banks 0171 620 0202.