Where can you find a theatre company staffed by scientists and engineers, whose interactive productions explain and teach science and technology directly relevant to the curriculum? Or another which somehow manages to combine computing and IT with drama? Who runs courses for teachers on staging Shakespeare? Which touring companies specialise in working with children with special needs? Who, or what, exactly, is Oily Cart and what does it offer?
The answers to these and a hundred other similar questions can be found in a new "micro" website, Theatre for Schools, which lives under the umbrella of the main TES site at www.tes.co.uk.
The aim of the site is to provide teachers with an independent, free and easy-to-use source of information on theatre companies working with and for young people in schools, theatres and community centres around the UK.
This is a bigger task than anyone not familiar with the recent history of young people's theatre in the UK might imagine. Over the past couple of decades, a whole new layer of education-based theatre groups has emerged alongside traditional Theatre in Education (TIE), mainstream and youth theatre groups.
Many of these new companies - grouped for convenience under the heading "Theatre for Young People" or TYP - specialise in areas of the curriculum, or in particular issues, such as environment, mental health or racism. Theatre for Schools brings all these strands together, to create what will soon become - we believe for the first time in any medium - a comprehensive directory.
The site lists more than 100 companies and is growing fast. Entries range from the one-woman Echoes theatre to the giants of subsidised mainstream theatre, and are listed by category - Theatre in Education, Theatre for Young People, Youth Theatre, Workshops for Teachers and Mainhouse Productions.
Each company has its own page: here you'll find a brief description of the type of work offered, details of productions and full contact details, including email and hotlinked website addresses where appropriate.
There are two further sections: Reviews and Links. Each term, professional TES theatre critics will be sent to review selected productions around the country, to help teachers make informed choices about who to see and who to avoid. In the Links area, you'll find directions to sources of information about all aspects of theatre and drama in the United Kingdom and internationally, including training and drama schools. Like every other part of this site, it will grow and change over time.
If you know of a company that should be listed and is not, if you take issue with a review, or if you want to comment on the site generally, use the hotmail links on most pages.
Bill Hicks is the editor of the TES website.Theatre for Schools can be accessed at: www.tes.co.uk
Information and comments can emailed directly from the site, or sent to Reva Klein at: (email) firstname.lastname@example.org; (fax) 0171 782 3200.
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