Students on the joint Orbital/National Theatre advanced sound training course.
Orbital Sound combined forces with The Royal National Theatre to deliver its second annual advanced training course for students wishing to pursue a career in theatre sound. Building on the success of the first course initiated jointly last year by Orbital’s Simon Whitehorn and The National’s Rob Barnard, the second edition expanded on its successful formula to be co-produced and staged at The National Theatre and at Orbital’s Brixton-based facility.

This year the creative and conceptual workshops were staged at ‘the National’, whilst in-depth technical sessions were held at Orbital’s headquarters in mid April. The importance of sound in theatre continues to grow at a rapid rate thanks to advances in technology and the changing expectations of audiences, producers and directors. As audio technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, both Orbital and The National are concerned that there is a skills shortfall, and that young people entering the industry have little experience of the latest technology.

The course is designed as a ‘top up’ for final year Stage Management and Technical Theatre Students. Fifteen candidates were nominated from London Drama Schools to participate in carefully structured classes. Rob Barnard, head of sound at The National, commented: "We’re delighted that the second edition was another huge success. By combining resources and expertise we are ideally positioned to offer this intensive training course for students interested in pursuing a career in theatre sound. Our aim is to add more advanced skills to the very good, basic training given at drama schools. Next year we are keen to make the course available to students nationwide and are currently applying for grant status to make this possible."

The five-day programme, which was offered free to students or drama schools, covered a wide range of subjects. This year, a particular emphasis was drawn on production engineering skills, specialist programming using Pro Tools editing, principles of radio communications and an introduction to digital FOH alternatives using Yamaha’s PM1D. In addition, many other subjects were covered, including an introduction into electro-acoustics and sound systems design. John Taylor from d&b audiotechnik was invited to lead these conceptual workshops.

(Ruth Rossington)

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