The artists, the poets and the philanthropists

28th February 2003 at 00:00
Be inspired by good deeds and entertained by good works. Heather Neill reports

Handel and the babies

The Foundling Hospital was set up by Sir Thomas Coram in 1739 to rescue the babies and young children left to die in the streets of London. From 1750, Handel directed an annual performance of The Messiah to raise funds for it. Now Handel House and the Foundling Museum have combined to present an exhibition of paintings, costumes, manuscripts and other objects that celebrate the association. For information, including details of concerts and lectures: 020 7495 1685; www.handelhouse.org.

Building art

Alongside the architectural exhibition Will Alsop amp; Bruce McLean: two chairs at Manchester's Cube, Education@Cube: signs and symbols is a display of drawings and paintings by key stage 1 children from Broad Oak primary school, East Didsbury.

Inspired by a visit to Manchester cathedral, the children worked with artists of all kinds to make paintings, music, dance and written pieces.

Information: 0161 237 5525; www.cube.org.uk.

Wartime Shakespeare

Trevor Nunn's last production as artistic director of the National Theatre has an elegiac, Chekhovian feel, a Love's Labour's Lost transported to the period of the First World War. Sandwiching the action between scenes on the battlefield, with Berowne (Joseph Fiennes) perhaps fatally wounded in the first moments, is a directorial trick probably more illuminating in the rehearsal room than for the audience. The play now says explicitly what Shakespeare perhaps hinted: the best-laid plans of human beings may be subverted.

The English pastoral is charming, Berowne and his companions attractive in their failed attempt to abjure love for study, while the Princess of France (Olivia Williams) and her party are spirited young women with a sense of mischief. Among the comic characters, Robin Soanes makes an excellent pedantic Holofernes, the schoolmaster . Tickets: 020 7452 3000.

Africa tours UK

Patrice Naiambana played Aslan in the Royal Shakespeare Company's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and is now touring his own physical theatre show, The Man Who Committed Thought, in which he delves, with humour, into African politics and culture. His incarnations include a sinister ex-head of the South African secret service who supplies arms to rebels, a dictator who steals a cow, and an anglicised lawyer given to quoting the Bible and Shakespeare. March 5, Aberystwyth Arts Centre; March 6, Weymouth College; March 8, The Theatre, Chipping Norton. Information: 020 7381 4115.

Jewish Arts Festival

Venues all over London will stage arts and literary events during March, including, at the Royal National Hotel, WC1, on Sunday, Anthony Horowitz talking about his writing for children. On March 9 novelist Howard Jacobson is interviewed by Vanessa Feltz in a Desert Island Books session, and on March 10, Soho Theatre will present Penelope Solomon and friends in an evening of kosher comedy. Other attractions include Jewish music, dance and cinema. Information: 020 7224 5863; www.jewishartsfest.org.

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