Artbeat

28th January 2000 at 00:00
Shakespeare continues to make the news. Never mind the last millennium, he's the man of Y2K it seems. There are yet more Shakespeare films in the pipeline, including Titus Andronicus and a Kenneth Branagh version of Love's Labours Lost featuring thirties songs. Branagh has just won the Golden Quill, an American award for introducing Shakespeare to new audiences, but in this country we're lucky to have plenty of other ways besides cinema for young people to discover him.

The Royal Shakespeare Company (01789 296655) and the Royal National Theatre (0171 452 3333) have full programmes for teachers and students. Shakespeare's Globe is handed over to its education department for half the year and there is still plenty of action for the young when the season begins. The new one, which opens in May, has just been announced; it includes Vanessa Redgrave playing Prospero in The Tempest and Mark Rylance revisiting Hamlet after more than 10 years.

As always there are numerous educational events and activities to choose from, including a weekend of free workshops on voice and fights to celebrate founder Sam Wanamaker's birthday (June 10 and 11; check box office for availability: 0171 401 9919). There will be Globe walkshops (actor-led explorations of theatre history in Southwark), Shakespeare on Screen on June 6 and 20 and August 8 with video extracts to explore the plays in the season, talks by actors, directors and musicians and a series of seminars by Peter Dawkins in July and September called "The Wisdom of Shakespeare". These will deal with the symbolism and teaching in the plays and a session with Mark Rylance is promised. (Bookings 0171 902 1433) This year is the 400th anniversary of the first performance of Hamlet. A curiosity for anyone studying it is Red Shift's Hamlet: first cut which will seem strange, but strangely familiar to students used to the much longer First Folio.

Director Jonathan Holloway says he was inspired to do it by watching an audience of spell-bound young people at an earlier production in 1985 at the Orange Tree in Richmond. "It is pared down to the essential narrative, with the texture of a contemporary thriller," he says. It is uncertain how this, probably pirated, version came about: perhaps a printer gathered together as much as a previous cast could remember; perhaps one or more actors tried to recall everyone else's parts. The soliloquies are fragmented, so the actor in question was unlikely to have played the main part, whereas Horatio is given extra weight.

Holloway thinks that this version may have ben played in Shakespeare's day while the First Folio represents all Shakespeare's best thoughts put together for publication. Certain episodes achieve, he believes, a new effect in a plot-driven narrative: the Ghost's visitation, for instance, has "a seismic impact", leaving Hamlet no option but to obey. Touring from Truro to Huddersfield until March. Information: 0171 378 9787.

Lest Shakespeare take over this entire page, let's have a change of gear. Last summer 28 children from 13 schools within the Bransholme Education Action Zone in Hull worked in Beverley Minster with a painter, a textile artist and two English and ICT teachers. Painter Shirley Goodsell, who was exhibiting at the minster, and Jenny Barson inspired paintings, stitched images and pieces of writing. The work will be on display at the DfEE until mid-February and the children will be formally welcomed there and congratulated by school standards minister Estelle Morris on February 3.

Hurry along to Walton High in Milton Keynes on Sunday and you will receive a free music lesson. Keyboard lessons are being offered to complete beginners of all ages to celebrate the opening of the Yamaha Music School there (01908 677954).

You'll have to be even quicker to catch the community performance of Living the Legend, the culmination of the Birmingham Royal Ballet's education work surrounding Arthur Part 1. Six school and community dance groups will perform a piece based on the legends of Arthur with BRB dancers at the Birmingham Hippodrome tomorrow at 2.30pm. (Tickets 0121 689 3000; BRB information: 0121 622 2555).

The beginning of the Year of the Dragon will provide an opportunity to celebrate Chinese culture in Kirklees. On February 5 and 6 there will be events and demonstrations at Huddersfield Town Hall and Bagshaw Museum in Batley. Dragon masks, blossom trees and lucky money envelopes will be on show as well as opera costumes, games, masks and toys. Free tea and traditional foods will be available.

In Brighton, schools have already set their sights on the summer. During the Festival there in May, the fruits of Poetry in Motion 2000 will be clear for all to see, some of them inscribed on the 220 buses. A separate Poetry Bus will travel between schools carrying the five poets who have been in residence in Brighton enlivening the literacy hour in some schools. Geraldine Aldridge, James Armstrong, Ros Barber, Brian Moses and Matthew Sweeney began their inspirational work last week. For information about the Brighton Festival 01273 700747.

Heather Neill


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