Judith Palmer kicks off this week's choice with a new lease of low life
Brecht on tour
The National Theatre's new mobile show is The Threepenny Opera, Brecht and Weill's satirical 1928 low-life musical, re-explored with freely updated lyrics to embrace Posh and Becks, Madonna and Guy, and war in Afghanistan. This lively ensemble production uses a multi-tasking cast of nine, who act as beggars, gangsters, whores and cops, while simultaneously singing and playing the banjo, trombone and sax. There's some fruity vernacular, and purists may find the departures from the text disarming, but the result is fresh, snappy and accessible. The cast chat with the audience informally pre-show, feeding the conversations into a useful prologue which draws out the contemporary themes. Touring to Albany Theatre, Deptford, until November 23; then Norwich, Swansea, Mold, Manchester, Birmingham, Kendal, Northampton, Truro and London. NT Education: 020 7452 3308; www.nationaltheatre.org.uk.
If you've enjoyed the Buena Vista Social Club and the Afro-Cuban All Stars, check out Rumba del Siglio (Rumba of the Century). Performed for the first time outside Cuba, this dance and music spectacle from Havana features slinky dancing, frantic percussion and the soaring vocals of Teresa Caturla. November 23, Royal Festival Hall,London: 020 7960 4242; www.rfh.org.uk. November 29, Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow: 0141 353 8000; www.grch.com. November 30, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry: 024 7652 4524; www.warwickartscentre.co.uk. December 1, Dome, Brighton: 01273 709709; www.brighton-dome.org.uk.
Working with fashion diva Zandra Rhodes, six to 15-year-olds from Southwark schools have created exuberant textile self-portraits. Their magic mural (more of a wall hanging), made from 160 individual beaded, painted and appliqued pieces, goes on show at Rhodes's Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey, south London, November 27-30. Information: 020 7403 0222. (The museum doesn't officially open until spring 2003.) Books forever
In Nina Bawden's novel Carrie's War, evacuee Carrie does something that haunts her for the rest of her life. The moment when she throws the skull down the well remains a gripping literary image from my childhood. On November 26, Bawden leads a discussion about the formative influence of reading. She is joined by former newspaper editor Rosie Boycott and Francis Spufford, author of The Child That Books Built. At the University Women's Club, London W1.Tel: 020 7267 9444.
The Royal Academy's blockbuster show Aztecs is a stunner (see Teacher magazine). If the thought of queues and crowds makes your feet sore and heart weak, remember that 15th-century Mexicans literally gave the skin off their backs to see those magnificent sacrificial altars. For the life-sized terracotta sculpture of the grinning Lord of Death, alone, this exhibition is not to be missed. Group bookings and schools information: 020 7300 5995. Until April 11.