Onoff stage

4th April 1997 at 01:00
You're brushing the last shards of chocolate off the duvet, wondering how you managed to squander your Easter holidays. But look to the future. New term, new plans . . . or whatever. Here's something to look forward to from Unicef. It has scripted a musical, Birthright, and is looking for schools who would be prepared to put on trial performances next December or January.

It is a 90-minute play designed to be performed by up to 50 children aged eight to 14. Not set in a particular time or place, it is up to individual schools to work it to their own brief, which includes costume and set design. Loosely, it is based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, following a group of children who make a journey to "happiness," encountering lively, sometimes humorous situations along the way.

The structure is episodic, so schools can use as little or as much of the script as they want. Incorporated in the play are opportunities for dance and singing. If you are interested, contact Heather Jarvis, education director of Unicef, on 0171 405 5592 or fax her on 0171 405 2332.

Anyone who read about or saw the BBC documentary Language Master last month (TES Extra, March 7) about how Michel Thomas can teach even the most reluctant to learn another language in five days might be interested to hear about a project just completed at Bishop Grosseteste College in Lincolnshire.

Year 4 drama students there used drama and storytelling techniques to help children in two primary schools learn German. The project was based on an original story devised by the students. Children were involved in decision-making and problem-solving - all in German - as they communicated with the characters in the story, asking them questions and devising their own ending.

According to Bishop Grosseteste's head of drama, Geoff Readman, the project, which was initiated by the Goethe Institute in London, was successful as well as fun and will probably be repeated next year. The two schools in the project, Tealby County and Long Bennington, both run German teaching sessions as a matter of course.

One more day to see the Birmingham Stage Company's production of Alan Ahlberg's Woof! at Whitley Bay Playhouse. This is the first UK theatre tour of the comedy which, as a television series, recently won a British Comedy Award. For matinee and evening bookings, ring 0191 252 3505.

A new way of awarding discretionary grants to prospective arts students has been introduced by Portsmouth City Council. Following recommendations in the new Pristley Report on funding for the performing arts, the Council's education officer and the head of creative arts at City of Portsmouth Girls' School will be auditioning and interviewing students applying for performing arts courses at accredited colleges. Tom Blair, chairman of the council's education committee, says: "We will be looking to support students who are genuinely treating their course as vocational training and also have the appropriate skills and commitment to stand a real chance of pursuing a professional career in the performing arts."

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