Onoff stage

21st March 1997 at 00:00

Blatchington Mill School in Hove, East Sussex, is not unusual in using its canteen as a stage for school theatre productions. But it is not every school that decides to build its own theatre and raises its own money to do so. The school which, in the words of headteacher Neil Hunter, is "very big on music and drama", will put on Sweet Charity on March 24 and 25 at the Gardner Arts Centre at Sussex University to raise funds. Ring the school on 01273 736244 for bookings.

A new survey reveals that 92 per cent of graduates of the Drama Studio London have found work in the four months since leaving the school, which is high by any standards. DSL is the only major drama training school in the country which offers postgraduate and mature students one-year courses in acting and directing. For more information about DSL courses, contact administrator Elinor Hilton on 0181 579 3897.

Harrogate Theatre in Education's tour of primary schools in North Yorkshire comes to an end today with their final performance of a musical about the Greek myths, entitled The Age of the Gods. With the company under threat from proposed cuts by North Yorkshire County Council, it may need the gods to intervene on its behalf. The Education and Leisure Services Committee is poised to end the TIE company's Pounds 33,000 grant. To find out more, ring Harrowgate TIE on 01765 601353.

An anti-bullying play about a bull? Well, why not? Merseyside Young People's Theatre's new production, Ferdinand, looks at bullying, peer pressure and friendship. It tours primary schools in Merseyside and the north-west before embarking on a national tour. You can catch it this weekend at the Polka Theatre in Wimbledon. For further information, ring Merseyside Young People's Theatre on 0151 708 0877.

Also this weekend: the Watermill Youth Theatre, based in Newbury, Berkshire, presents Bullets and Beetroot Lips, a devised play which brings together the Land Girls of the Second World War and the A34 Newbury by-pass protestors. No, time travel is not resorted to, but the ethics of what to do when confronted with "the enemy" are explored within the two contexts. The play follows the production earlier in the week of The Green of the Spring, a play about the First World War, which was devised by six local primary schools, working with the Watermill's education department. For bookings for Bullets and Beetroot Lips, ring the box office on 01635 46044.

And if you're on the Isle of Wight this weekend, pop in to see Solent Middle School's home grown version of Sweeney Todd, entitled Todd: A Tale of Fleet Street. For their parts, two students have learned Makaton sign language, a system specially devised for people with severe learning difficulties. In the play, Owain, a mysterious child who does not speak, meets Prentiss Porlott, who has an unfortunate brush with Sweeney Todd. Prentiss and Owain overcome the barriers of communication through signing and comfort each other. Tonight is the last performance. Ring Solent Middle School, Cowes on 01983 295713.

An unusual Easter treat is on at the Polka Theatre Wimbledon. David Tse's The Magic Paintbrush makes a welcome return. Nominated as the Best Children's Production in the London Fringe Awards in 1994, it is a fantastically visual, vibrant play about a young orphan boy who is given a magical paintbrush that brings everything it paints to life. The play runs from April 1 to 19. Book tickets on 0181 543 4888.

Sea of Faces by Theatre Alibi can be seen at the Salisbury Playhouse for two nights only, on March 25 and 26. Tracing a family's journey through the war-torn first half of this century, it is a strongly physical, visual play. To book, ring 10722 320333.

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