Theatre sound specialist Orbital and the National Theatre’s sound department have combined forces to deliver the fourth five day course for stage management and technical theatre students keen to pursue sound as a career.

Theatre sound is advancing at a rapid rate brought on by technological developments and the growing expectations of directors, producers, and audiences. Both Orbital and The National are concerned that there is a skills shortfall – that young people entering the industry have little experience of the latest technology and techniques.

Building on the success of its previous years, over 20 students attended the complementary course from 10 drama schools nationwide. Benefiting from the opportunity to gain an extra level of technical skill and artistic understanding, their "skills-set" is expanded to enable the level of competence necessary in contemporary theatre.

The course co-designed by Orbital’s Simon Whitehorn and The National’s Colin Pink was again hosted co-jointly with members of staff from both organisations leading the classes, including Colin Pink and Christopher Shutt from the National and Drew Mollison and Gareth Owen from Orbital. In addition, specialist lecturers from the audio industry, including John Taylor of d&b audiotechnic presented a number of sessions.

A particular emphasis was placed on production engineering skills as well as programming techniques for Akai samplers, ProTools recording and editing. In addition, sessions covered digital desks as well as more general subjects including basic acoustics, sound reinforcement and sound design for both musicals and plays.

The course combined theory with a hands on approach and culminated with a "special project" day, which involved the students creating their own soundscape for the opening scene of The Tempest.

The students were also offered expert advice on career paths in the theatre sound industry as part of the course that was staged in Orbital’s brand new 150-seat training and pre-production facility at their Brixton HQ.

"It’s great to see the course growing from strength to strength with the largest complement of students to date," says the National's chief sound technician Colin Park. "It is essential to make students aware of the latest technology and prepare them to enter the real world of theatre sound."