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OnOff Stage

That nip in the air and that glitz in the shop windows can mean only one thing: Christmas is in the air. And the Dukes Theatre, Lancaster, is launching one of the more imaginative seasonal projects to tie in with its production of A Christmas Carol.

Schoolchildren throughout the area are being invited to carry out research into aspects of Victorian life that will help Charles Dickens write his play. They will "meet" Dickens and, with the help of authentic settings on the Quay Side in Lancaster and Dukes TIE actors, the children will create scripts for Dickens to integrate into his text. The project culminates in a performance of A Christmas Carol and a thanking from Dickens for their help. Dukes education department: 0524 67461.

A different kind of interactive drama is taking place during the next two weeks in Hackney, east London, where music, art and dance tutors will lead groups of schoolchildren through Sutton House, the oldest domestic building in the East End, to elicit their views on how they see the house and the period it represents. Two days of intensive workshops are followed by an hour-long performance based on the children's explorations. It is part of the National Trust's Performing Arts in Trust project, led by Sue Mayo, former director of the Young National Trust Theatre. To find out more, ring Sally Woodhead on 081 986 0242.

With Frankenstein coming out of my ears, it is with relief that news comes in of Stowmarket Drama School's Dracula Spectacular. It's a spoof horror in which a teacher takes her pupils to Transylvania on a geography trip (as one does) and, yes, you guessed it, finds herself up to the neck in trouble. Catch it at the Regal Theatre in Stowmarket from November 17 to 19. Tickets from the Regal box office.

Tomorrow Drama East runs a one-day conference, Theatre in Educational Context at Bishop Grosseteste College. The day is to be a combination of seminars and performances by Wolsey and Humberside theatre in education companies. Subjects include how schools can maximise a TIE visit and issues surrounding the relationship between schools and theatre companies. More information from Geoff Readman, chair of Drama East at Bishop Grosseteste College, Newport, Lincoln on 0522 527347.

Insomniac Productions, in association with Physical State International, presents If We Shadows, "based loosely" on A Midsummer Night's Dream. It can be seen at the Dancehouse Theatre, Oxford Road, Manchester from November 21-26. Bookings: 061 272 7273.

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