In the coming months teachers will have their first sight of what the Scottish Arts Council hopes will be the new shape of theatre in education.
Last year the council made a decisive move in its funding policy by rewarding those TIE companies which showed they were alive to contemporary thinking in arts education and most aware of schools' needs. Now those winning prospectuses have to be played out in the classroom.
Six companies based in Scotland make schools their chief concern - their work varies hugely in its style and purpose. At one end of the spectrum, Hopscotch and TAG offer young persons' theatre, with the child as spectator. Borderline, by contrast, offers what is often pure drama, with a company of one working as arts teacher with a class.
Companies can offer English literature text-based work - such as Borderline's approaches to Shakespeare, or the issue-based programmes for teachers of personal and social education as preferred by Boilerhouse, or history topics as favoured by Hopscotch.
Money of course is crucial. The Arts Council has invested heavily in Boilerhouse, TAG and Borderline, but for Visible Fictions, First Bite and Hopscotch, there is a constant search for sponsorship. Hopscotch lives almost entirely on "gate-money" and private sponsorship. The company is hugely popular with primary schools, mostly because in Ross Stenhouse's scripts facts have never been so entertaining.
Boilerhouse knows the importance of entertainment, even in its chosen area of drugs, solvent and alcohol abuse. It has a partner in the Simpson House Drugs Project, which shares its expertise with playwright Nick Davies and education co-ordinator Yonnie Fraser. First Bite is another "issue-based" company whose theatre style has a swiftness and clarity which makes anything possible.
Boilerhouse: Feb and March 1999 across Scotland, "Choice" for S1-S3, tel 0131 221 1677: Borderline: throughout school year in South Ayrshire "The Magical Island" for P1-3; "The Explorers" P4-5; "The Dream" P6-7; S1-2 workshops on "A Midsummer Night's Dream"; S3-4 workshops on several Shakespeare texts; S5-6 workshops on the classic text, tel 01292 281010; First Bite: Nov 9-Dec 18 across Scotland, "That's Me" for S2-4, tel 0131 225 7993; Hopscotch: Aug-Nov 1998 and Jan 1999 across Scotland, "The Vikings" for P2-7, tel 0141 440 2025; TAG: Sept 1-Oct 17 in Glasgow, Dundee, Haddo House, Dumfries, Glenrothes and Edinburgh, "Othello" for S3-6, tel 0141 552 4949; Visible Fictions: Sept 15-Nov 1 across Scotland, "Henry the Sea" Horse for P1-4, tel 0131 248 4837