The dog stole the show, of course. The National Theatre's education tour of Two Gentlemen of Verona came to a triumphant conclusion at the Cottesloe last week with an adult audience experiencing a version of the workshop available to schools and a performance of the cut text of this problematic but romantic play. Crab, the dog, was played with casual aplomb by Norman whose master, Mark Lanahan, partnered him as Launce, servant to one of the eponymous gents, Proteus.
The young cast presented the text with clarity, humour and an admirable understanding of the questions which exercise an adolescent audience: would you forgive your friend if he stole your girlfriend? Would you consider betraying your friend or your girlfriend? Such questions were dealt with in games and role- play during workshops; the adult audience merely entered into discussion with the actors.
The tour, which was seen by 5,000 students, was sponsored by Lloyd's TSB Live!, who have committed themselves to funding next year's tour, As You Like It, directed by Sean Holmes. For information about National Theatre education: 0171 452 3333 Music teachers who can free themselves for a day in early July should hurry to the Queen Elizabeth Hall for Music for Youth's Education Conference: The Way Forward on July 5, at the opening of the twenty-ninth National Festival of Music for Youth. Speakers at the conference include culture secretary Chris Smith, professor Ken Robinson of the National Advisory Committee for Culture and Creative Education and Nicholas Tate, chief executive, Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. During the festival dozens of groups will perform and receive an adjudication, among them Ysgol Glanaethwy from Wales and Wardle High School brass band. Music for Youth: 0181 870 9624 More urgently, the Hay Children's Festival of the Arts is all set to occupy energetic participants aged six to 12 in workshops over the bank holiday weekend, May 29-31. Everything from ceramic tile enamelling to photography, computer animation and making robot and alien costumes should deal with the "What shall I do now?" problem. Sessions cost pound;2.50 to pound;5.For details: telfax 01497 820221 In the autumn the visual arts will take over streets, shops and schools for six weeks during the Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art, which will run from September 24 to November 7. As well as the International Exhibition and an artist-led initiative, Tracey, which will place unexpected pieces in the grandest architectural areas of the city, there will be two exhibitions specifically celebrating new artists.
John Moores 21 is the UK's biggest national open exhibition of contemporary painting selected by a panel of experts, this year including Germaine Greer and Richard Cork, chief art critic of The Times. Founded in 1957 by businessman and benefactor Sir John Moores, it is held every two years and has a reputation for spotting talent. For entry details, phone 0151 709 7444. The work of 33 students and recent graduates working in various media will be displayed under the title newcontemporaries99. This exhibition will then travel to the South London Gallery in November.
Alongside all this activity is an extensive education programme, including five-day residencies in six schools taking place throughout Merseyside this term. The theme of the international exhibition, "trace" will be the starting point in each case and the resulting work will be shown alongside that of adult artists or in unusual but suitable venues. Kim Laycock, for instance, mindful of Liverpool's history as a port and the scene of arrivals from different parts of the world, will begin with a trunk and what should go into it. Education co-ordinator, Emma Thomas, hopes that this will lead to an exhibition in the Passport Office. The work led by Amrit and Rabindra Singh will later become part of an Asian festival. Resource packs about the biennial and its themes will be free to schools and will be made available on the internet. For more information: 0151 709 7444 or e.thomas@biennial. org.uk the beautiful memorial service for Ted Hughes at Westminster Abbey last week celebrated his laureateship with many of his own poems, including "A March Calf" from Season Songs, one of his collections for children. Let us hope that the next Poet Laureate has as much respect for the young reader and writer as the much-missed Hughes.