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Theatre on mission to transform

For more than a decade, teachers have had good cause to be grateful for the varied support that arts companies give them in the classroom. Now, with the Scottish Executive throwing its considerable financial weight behind the National Theatre of Scotland, another kind of educational philosophy is being explored.

Not that the company is ignoring the classroom far from it. But NTS Learn, its educational wing, has set itself the brief to educate both those in the classroom and those who left it long ago. It does this with heavyweight funding and heady ambition to boldly go where local, skimpily resourced companies have never dreamt to venture.

Learning is at the heart of its work, it says, and its credo is that there is no learning without creativity, and no creativity without learning. Associate director Simon Sharkey thinks beyond simply "putting plays on" to "a sharing process theatre as a multi- art form medium that brings artists together and audiences together".

The basic model, by which the company operates, is parachuting in a team of artists and arts workers to "transform" schools and community groups. The chools are sometimes peripheral to the main work, sometimes at the centre, but in just over a year, the NTS has worked with 80 schools in a staggering variety of ways.

This summer alone, the high schools of Elgin, Lossiemouth, Speyside and Buckie contributed to The Elgin Macbeth; the merger of Claremont and Hunter high schools was celebrated by an outdoor event in East Kilbride; and, next month, NTS will complete a project with Lochgilphead High, connecting with an outdoor spectacular at Kilmartin.

* www.nationaltheatrescotland.com T 0141 221 0970

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