Art beat

27th November 1998 at 00:00
It was chilly in the Globe's tiring house, the area behind the stage that takes its name from "attiring" or dressing, but the teachers didn't seem to mind. Rosemary Linnell, Globe education consultant, was talking about the experience of seeing Henry V played by an all-male cast last year. "The actor playing Katherine was a boy, using girlish characteristics - a girl, but from a boy's perspective."

Later, artistic director Mark Rylance said the experiment had been a creative experience for the audience too. "They were being trusted to use their imagination more than is usually necessary."

This was at the end of a day of workshops all about sharing experience. The event launched a research project set up with the Institute of Education in London to promote innovative teaching of Shakespeare and to learn how discoveries made from playing on the reconstructed Globe's stage might filter into classroom practice. So far, the 15 or so teachers involved are mainly coping with the curriculum at key stage 3 in the London area, but there are plans to extend the project to other parts of the country next year. Participants will keep a record of their lessons in school and bring students to the Globe for free workshop time in which they will experiment on the stage.

Shakespeare in the Contemporary Classroom is the title of a one-day conference for teachers to be held at the Globe on January 16. Rex Gibson, editor of the Cambridge School Shakespeares, will give the keynote speech, and Globe Education staff will run workshops. For more information, tel: 0171 902 1432.

If you live near Greenwich Theatre, you may have the opportunity to be in Hamlet. Theatre Unlimited is inviting 21 school, community and business groups to take part in The Hamlet Project . Before each performance of the play by the company next March, one of the groups will perform a half-hour piece inspired by Hamlet to an audience of 100 guests, who will then be invited to watch the professional performance as well. The groups will take part in an eight-week programme co-ordinated by Christopher Geelan, education director of the English Shakespeare Company. Phone 0171 243 0173 for details.

On the subject of texts, Michael Boyd directs the RSC's touring, modern-dress Troilus and Cressida , set in Thirties Ireland, with a fresh eye. Tour details: 01789 205301.

Meanwhile, ex-teacher Jonathan Harvey's most ambitious play, Guiding Star , an examination of the legacy of the Hillsborough disaster, has opened at the National Theatre. As often in Harvey's work (which includes Beautiful Thing, now a film) a gay teenager comes to terms with his sexuality. The programme provides helpful advice for anyone in a similar situation. Despite its grim premiss, the script is often sharply funny. Tickets: 0171 452 3000.

In the West End, sixth-formers studying Racine will enjoy the Almeida's intense Britannicus starring Diana Rigg at the Albery (0171 369 1730) and teachers, especially of classics, could indulge themselves in a Christmas treat at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. Tom Stoppard's Invention of Love wittily explores A E Housman's dedication to scholarship and poetry and his unrequited love for the heterosexual Moses Jackson. Tel: 0171 930 8800.

Welsh conversation wafted over the heads of distinguished guests including ex-Monty Python star and medievalist Terry Jones, and a clutch of politicians at the British Library last week. It was the setting for the launch of the S4CBBC Wales animated Canterbury Tales. There are two half-hour films, Leaving London and Arriving at Canterbury, with the return journey promised for next year. The first has the General Prologue and The Nun's, Priest's, Knight's and Wife of Bath's Tales. The second has the Merchant's, Pardoner's and Franklin's Tales. Chaucer follows Shakespeare, opera and the Old Testament from the same, now highly successful, stable. The animated Shakespeares have been seen in 60 countries and are said to be used in 90 per cent of schools in the UK.

Jonathan Myerson's script manages to keep to snatches of Chaucer, so it is possible to have a Middle English sound-track which will be broadcast on schools television next year. A Welsh version is scheduled for November 30 and December 6. A modern English version will go out during the Christmas holidays.

Professor Derek Brewer, doyen of Chaucerians, congratulated everyone on the enterprise, especially for taking the awe out of the classics, adding, as an afterthought, "though whether the Middle Ages was really like that is another matter". The characters are fashioned from models and the tales are told in a variety of animation styles, from scatalogical to ethereal, some of them made in Moscow by Christmas Films. For information about videos 01222 741452.

Heather Neill Children's books The Globe: gender experiment Toon tales: the Wife of Bath Daughter behaving badly: Babette Cole's illustrations from 'Bad Habits' in which Mr and Mrs Crum eventually manage to transform outrageous Lucretzia into an absolute angel Holiday home disaster


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