Schools are offered hotline to the Bard

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The Independent Online
A 'FLYING Shakespeare' service to help schools wrestling with the three plays prescribed by the Government was launched yesterday by the English Shakespeare Company.

Sponsored by BT, the unique service will deliver a Shakespeare workshop of actors and directors to any school in the country within 48 hours. Teachers having trouble with the iambic pentameter just have to ring the company, who will dispatch a workshop by aircraft if the school is in a remote area.

BT has promised that all calls requesting the service will only be charged at the local rate. In addition it is putting pounds 25,000 into the sponsorship.

The BT curriculum hotline on 0345 224422 does have one twist in the tail for the Government. The artistic director of the ESC, who will attend a number of workshops, is Michael Bogdanov, who has accused the Government of hijacking Shakespeare.

The Bard, he says, should be 'reclaimed for the anarchists'. He says Shakespeare has been incorrectly taught and presented for years, with an Oxbridge clique of academics and directors under- playing Shakespeare's left-wing and feminist side.

Mr Bogdanov said yesterday that the ESC workshops would address all approaches, but he felt it essential that the views of the ESC should be there to 'infiltrate' received wisdoms.

Every school in the country will be told of the hotline. A 'bread and butter Romeo and Juliet workshop' will cost pounds 100.