Orbital and RNT Pool Expertise
Thursday, 26 April 2001
London-based Orbital Sound has combined forces with the Royal National Theatre's sound department to stage the first of an annual advanced training programme for students wishing to pursue a career in theatre sound. With audio technology becoming increasingly sophisticated, both organisations are concerned that there is a skills shortfall, and that young people entering the industry have little experience of the latest technology. Initiated jointly by Orbital's Simon Whitehorn and the National's Rob Barnard, the co-produced course was held at the National Theatre and at Orbital's central London facility, between 9 - 12 April 2001. The creative and conceptual workshops were staged at the National, whilst in-depth technical sessions were held at Orbital's headquarters.

The course was designed as a 'top up' for final year Stage Management and Technical Theatre students. Nine candidates were nominated by London drama schools to participate in 10 carefully-structured classes. Rob Barnard, head of sound at the National, said: "Having worked with Orbital and Simon Whitehorn for many years, we felt that by combining our resources and expertise we were ideally positioned to offer an intensive training course for students interested in pursuing a career in theatre sound. Both myself and Simon graduated from drama school and feel that such training is ideal when working with sound in theatre. Our aim is to help provide these more advanced skills, as a 'top-up' to the good basic training given by drama schools."

The four-day programme, which was offered at no expense to students or drama schools, covered a wide range of subjects. A particular emphasis was drawn to production engineering skills, specialist programming using Akai samplers and ProTools editing, as well as the programming of automated mixing consoles. In addition, many other global subjects were covered including basic acoustics and sound reinforcement for musicals. John Taylor, from leading equipment manufacturer d&b audiotechnik, was invited to lead several work groups and commented: "I felt that the response we got was very positive and I am sure, from the contributions we received, that everyone benefited from the session. I would applaud Orbital and the National Theatre's initiative in providing this kind of advanced training for theatre students. d&b was pleased to contribute to what we hope will be the first of many such forums."

Orbital and the National are looking forward to expanding the course next year, making it available through drama schools nationwide.

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