Onoff Stage

8th November 1996 at 00:00
If theatre is a window on the world outside, the Royal Court's Young Playwrights' Festival, Storming, was right on course: a combustible mixture of stern morality and violence, drugs, effin' and blindin'.

Eleven-year-old Matty Chalk's Separation, an anti-war play set in the Jacobite rebellion, was a genuinely moving story about a family riven and destroyed by war. The worlds of Drink, Smoking and Toking by 15-year-old Stuart Swarbrick and The Future is Betamax by Nicholas Kelly, 23, were rather different, but no less moralistic.

Set in Glasgow and Dublin respectively, they focused on aimless young people wasting their lives away. Both left the audience in no doubt as to the futility of violence and getting blasted all the time. I'm sure this is not the last we are going to hear from these young playwrights.

Still on the subject of the agonies of being young, a new production by Laffa Jaffa, Life on Mars? by Tom McCrory, brings together sci-fi, adolescence and dysfunctional families in a rite-of-passage play. Playing at Riverside Studios until November 24, it delves into the fantasy life of a 14-year-old girl who is anxious to escape a dodgy domestic set-up. Ring the Riverside for details on 0181 740 2255.

The National Theatre Education Department's Stage Door Project is inviting London schools to become partners in its unique service. Participating schools get residential drama sessions, a careers-in-theatre pack, reduced-price tickets for two plays from the National's repertoire (which become the main focus of study for the autumn and spring terms) and in-service training at the National with actors from the plays. To find out how to become a partner school, contact NT Education Department's Stage Door Project on 0171 928 5214.

Today is the last day of an inspired collaboration between Liverpool Football Club and Icarus Productions Theatre in Education. At the new Kop stand at the club's Anfield ground, around 4,000 pupils aged 13 to 15 have been watching Looking After Herbert, a new play about alcohol and drug misuse.

Backed up by a forum-style workshop, teachers' inset and drugs education pack, the piece reflects popular culture. You can't get more popular than the Kop, as far as many young Liverpudlians are concerned. For information about a video on the project that is being made for schools nationally, ring Icarus on 0151 708 8692.

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