At the risk of irritating those who still haven't moth-balled their bikinis and beach towels, I have to report an autumnal nip in the air these mornings. But let's not get too depressed - the panto season is still a long way off and the next term could be full of artistic treats.
The National Youth Theatre is a company we are used to seeing in the summer for obvious practical reasons - most of the members have to resume their education when college terms begin. Their finances not being in the best of health, the NYT didn't take any productions to the Edinburgh Fringe this year, but they have managed to pull off a coup none the less. They Shoot Horses Don't They?, their hit production from last year, is to be at the Apollo, Shaftesbury Avenue, between September 7 and 16. This was one of the most moving and spectacular productions in Edinburgh in 1999 and will bring an injection of youthful passion to the West End.
The story of the cruel dance marathons of America in the Depression of the 1930s may be familiar from the film, but there is nothing like seeing a practised ensemble at work on stage, especially when its members match the age of the characters they are playing. The young couples convince of their desperation as they dance until they literally drop in the hope of winning life-saving cash prizes. Tickets: 020 7494 5070 Meanwhile, the NYT's Age, sex loc@tion opens tonight at the Lyric Studio, Hammersmith. Love on the internet is the theme of this new piece. Tickets: 020 8741 2311 October is Black History Month, and the Theatre Museum is inviting local schools to celebrate it in The Market Day Project. In partnership with Positive Steps Black Dance and Theatre Multi-Media Company, the museum aims to recreate the ballet Market Day which was performed by Britain's first black dance company, Les Ballets N gres, in 1946. Remaining members of that company, including the composers and designers, will work with young people alongside black dancers and choreographers from more recent professional shows. Funded by the London Arts Board under the Year of the Artist programme, the project is free to schools between October 3 and 14, with performances on the Saturday afternoons, October 7 and 14. These will be preceded by presentations of archive material, including original photographs and slides. For information about taking part in the project: 020 7943 4800. Tickets: 020 7943 4700.
In Birmingham, three schools will be picking up the threads of drama work begun in May. Before the holidays, students from King Edward VI Camp Hill, Hamstead Hall and Moseley School all explored the text of Twelfth Night with Birmingham Rep director Bill Alexander and six actors. Now they are preparing their own 20-minute vrsions of the play which reflect their own lives and language in the Food of Love Project. These will be presented on particular evenings before performances of the Rep's new production of Twelfth Night.
Head of education, Trevelyan Wright, thinks it will be exciting for the young people to see their work in a context outside school, and the theatre is hoping to attract people who don't usually watch Shakespeare but might stay for the whole evening. For information: 0121 245 2000. Tickets: 0121 236 4455 Twenty-five graduates of MA courses at the University of Brighton will present a showcase of their work in Lucky Dip at the Grand Parade, Brighton, between September 16 and 21. Students on the MA in sequential design and illustration work in such fields as animation, book design, video, illustration and photography.
Among the exhibits will be a paper-engineered and animated interpretation of Gulliver's Travels and - this alone must be worth the effort to see the show - a Tracey Emin-inspired pet carrier. Does it include unmade cat litter? For information call 01865 558715.
At the Cornerhouse in Manchester, 7:Seven is an exhibition of work by seven recent postgraduates of Manchester Metropolitan University's MA Fine Art course. By artists from different cultural backgrounds, the pieces include a Mongolian tent in gallery 3 and objects placed in the local street-scape which can be viewed through telescopes. From September 23 to October 1.Information: 0161 236 9299; www.cornerhouse.org Artsway, a contemporary visual arts gallery in the New Forest, will present Right to Roam, a framed installation work by British-Australian artist Alana Jelinek who spent a month in residence at Artsway last year. Her three works, which explore ideas of landscape and culture, can be seen between September 16 and November 12 and she will be available for a free public discussion on October 15 at 3pm. Artsway is based in Sway, Hampshire. For more information: 01590 682260; www.artsway.org.uk This summer adults as well as children have been busily reading Harry Potter books. This remains a bit of a mystery to me. Why don't you come across commuters engrossed in Philip Pullman or Jan Mark paperbacks? Anyway, the casting for the film of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone has been announced. The screen Harry, 14-year-old Daniel Radcliffe, who was a touching young David in David Copperfield on BBC television, is likely to undergo an experience as life-changing as Harry himself did when he joined Hogwarts Academy.
That other summer pastime - watching Big Brother - has had one unexpected effect: sales of Orwell's 1984 have more than doubled. Perhaps Harry Potter has acquired a rival at last.