OnOff Stage

9th January 1998 at 00:00
After the excesses of Christmas and New Year, I'm itching to get back to normality. However, one delightfully abnormal and consequently exciting event is a drama experience run by the intriguingly named Death by Theatre Company. I say "experience" because it's not just a performance. The idea of Death by Theatre, led by a group of professional actors, is to immerse GCSE and A level drama or English students in the business of making theatre.

To do that, students work for 24 hours on a specific production in a theatre. Yes, 24 hours. They bring sleeping bags and, more to the point, bags of energy and imagination. At the end of the 24 hours, they perform the play they have worked on to an audience of friends, teachers and curiosity-seekers.

You can see the results on January 11, when they will be presenting a Shakespearean piece at Jackson's Lane Community Centre, and on February 17 at the Old Bull Arts Centre, when the subject will be Stanislavskian. Fees are Pounds 15 per student, or Pounds 12 for individuals in groups of 10 or more. Details from Death by Theatre, 0171 247 3971.

Scrooge's spirit is with us all year round when it comes to arts funding. So it's always a cause for celebration to hear news of children's theatre being supported at all, let alone with a National Lottery capital award of Pounds 2.09 million, which is what Playbox Theatre has received to build a theatre exclusively for young people. Called the Dream Factory, it will be built at Aylesford School on land donated by Warwickshire County Council. From 1999, Playbox Theatre will stage productions there as well as education projects, including outreach and youth theatre. Details from Playbox Theatre, 01926 512388.

Loud Mouth Educational Theatre Company is touring a programme on pregnancy and contraception. Aimed at students in Years 9 and 10, it explores young people's views through two characters who get themselves into a bit of a mess. The Birmingham-based company tours countrywide, presenting programmes that are as entertaining as they are informative. For more details, ring 0121 446 4880.

Another personal, social and health education-geared theatre company is Interactive Theatre which presents programmes on issues such as sex, peer pressure, behaviour management, smoking, alcohol and drugs. In addition, it runs workshops for Year 10 and 11 students to prepare them for work experience, focusing on communication skills, assertiveness and coping with problems. All programmes are delivered by a team of experienced actorteachers and include pre-performance work, staff briefings and positive behaviour management policy. For more information, ring Pete Marchant on 01277 364951.

Speaking of tough issues, Oxford Stage Company is touring an original adaptation of Melvin Burgess's award-winning Junk from mid January until the end of March. Adapted and directed by John Retallack, the play is part of Oxford Stage Company's Making the Future project, bringing new writing for young people to a wider audience. For tour details, ring 01865 723238.

The Little Angel Theatre in Islington is running its seasonal favourite, Angelo, through to the beginning of February. It's a beautifully-crafted show about an Italian family of travelling players. It is showing in rep with John Agard's The Manylegged Musicians of Bremley Town. Bookings: 0171 226 1787.

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