Lyceum bridge builder

9th October 1998 at 01:00
In Lord of the Flies, William Golding sets a tough challenge to human nature by leaving a group of school boys stranded on a tropical island. Little boys, as Golding - a former teacher - knew all too well, could be savage.

The scenario offers a fertile basis for an intensive six-day creative drama workshop for 14 to 18-year-olds, to be run by the Royal Lyceum during the Edinburgh schools' autumn break (October 19-24). As Steven Small, the Lyceum's education development officer, says: "It's an ideal starting point for a piece of drama - to be put in a situation where you have to make decisions for yourself and to be asked 'what if?'."

Under Small's direction the young actors will improvise scenes, working with a professional writer who will hone their efforts into a polished script. With the input of a designer and percussionist, a performance will be staged on the final day.

The experience will give participants a good insight into theatre, and is one of a range of activities Small has set up to attract young people to the Lyceum. Not that the productions staged there are "unsellable" to the young, he insists. "It's just that they have got out of the habit of going to the theatre. We've got to show them it has something to say to them."

Following a career in professional theatre in England and Scotland, which included a post as assistant director of the Scottish Youth Theatre, Small took up his position at the Lyceum four years ago. Since then he has built up a solid programme of activities aimed at building bridges towards the young.

On Saturdays from September to May, more than 90 young people occupy every corner of the theatre's rehearsal spaces, taking part in workshops on the current production or on a related theme. Pupils younger than 14 can take part in half-day workshops, stretching their talents through drama, music and storytelling.

Resources do not, as yet, stretch to workshops in the community.

r = Fees for Saturday workshops (which include a ticket to the play) are Pounds 5 for 14 to 18-year-olds and Pounds 3.50 for younger pupils. The October week project costs Pounds 35. Study packs are also available for teachers and pupils. Further information from Steven Small, tel: 0131 248 4838

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