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David Tennant will be beamed into up to 3,000 schools next week as part of a venture to bring live theatre closer to the hearts and minds of schoolchildren.

Arts: On the darker side of Dickens

BBC's Great Expectations will be rather more disturbing than the usual costume drama. By James Rampton

Theatre Review: Volpone

Swan Theatre, Stratford (01789 295623)

Theatre: End of the winter of discontent?

Spring for the Royal Shakespeare Company After years of damning criticism the new season has started with a critical thumbs-up. Its artistic director Adrian Noble talks exclusively to David Lister

SEEN LATELY DANIEL RYAN Actor

I have just finished reading the script for Mike Packer's play Card Boys which opens at the Bush this week. Mike used to be an actor but gave it up two years ago to be a writer and has been working on this play since then. It is a love story about people who put prostitutes' cards in telephone boxes.

Focus: The accent that dare not speak its name

As posh talk becomes passe and RP dies out, the demotic language of the call centre is now the only one we share

Can everybody hear me?

`Antony and Cleopatra' fell foul of the National Theatre's acoustics. Now Trevor Nunn is ready to make a noise with `Troilus and Cressida'. He talks to Stephen Fay

Extra cash keeps RSC on the road

Extra cash keeps RSC on the road

Letter: No crisis in drama

Sir: David Lister's article "RSC goes to war against National" (7 January) creates the impression of hostility where none exists.

RSC goes to war against National

BRITAIN'S TWO best-known theatre companies were locked in a suitably erudite row last night - over who knows best how to stage Shakespeare.

Theatre reviews: Stomp

Stomp

Opera to get pounds 16m - if it performs

THE ROYAL Opera House is to become far and away the most lavishly funded arts venue in Britain after a major rise in its grant was announced yesterday.

Peter Pan

There are a number of seasonal shows in London this month that will keep box-office attendants worked to the bone, but by far the biggest is Peter Pan (above), which Trevor Nunn has wisely brought back after a critically acclaimed, sell-out run last Christmas in order to see his second year off to a flying start. Like the puckish boy wonder at the heart of JM Barrie's classic tale, this revival of the Royal Shakespeare Company's 1982 hit, originally directed by John Caird, has not aged in the least. Jonathan Dove's version pays due attention to the work's tacit proposition - that both growing up and remaining a child cause lasting emotional trauma - while John Napier's extraordinary revolving fantasy landscape, with its crocodile-infested lagoons, throws up images of Never Land that has even adults, according to Paul Taylor, fighting "a lump in the throat the size of one of Hook's cannonballs".

We will make a melodrama out of a crisis

`I could never resist the appeal of RAC men at motorway service areas. I joined four times in all'

Theatre: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe

Adrian Mitchell must be one of British theatre's least-recognised talents. Still known mainly for his freewheeling performance poetry, it is often forgotten that he wrote the verse translation for Peter Brook's legendary 1964 RSC production of Peter Weiss's Marat/Sade. He has also written a heap of stories, verse and plays specifically for children, including dramatisations of work by Hans Christian Andersen and Beatrix Potter. It is this affinity with the fantastical which the artistic director of the RSC, Adrian Noble, has harnessed to adapt The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a book responsible for generations of children spending inordinate amounts of time expectantly pushing through coat-racks. Designed by the award-winning Anthony Ward (whose recent credits include The Invention of Love and Oklahoma!), this lavish production has been mounted to coincide with the centenary of CS Lewis's birth and will definitely not be just for Christmas. It transfers to London in the Spring.

Theatre: Thrift, Horatio, thrift! And stuff the quality

A COUPLE of weeks ago, in conjunction with something else, Trevor Nunn alluded in passing to his dream for the National Theatre: to re-establish a permanent company there. He announced his idea so shyly, so tentatively, so wistfully, even, as if it were impossible - the ideal that has been at the heart of every plan for a National Theatre since such things were first contemplated over a 100 years ago, "the ideal that led Peter Hall to found the Royal Shakespeare Company and underpinned Laurence Olivier's assumption of the leadership of the National at the Old Vic".
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