Technical theatre – Rhinegold Publishing

Technical theatre


There can be little doubt that the professional theatre is becoming an increasingly visual and indeed sensual (in its truest sense) medium. Recently, critically-acclaimed productions of War Horse and Romeo and Juliet at the RSC made full use of the opportunities that modern technology can add to the stage picture. And our leading innovative theatre companies – Kneehigh, Punchdrunk, Complicite – are as much about the visual element of the production.

The idea of going to ‘hear’ a play as in Shakespeare’s day is long behind us – we go to ‘see’ a play and we want to see something special. And yet, drama in the classroom tends to be focused on the words. Young people, influenced by television drama, fail to see the possibilities of drama’s visual side, and model their work on soap operas and a kitchen table. This isn’t because they are without the imagination to explore these areas – we just don’t give them the tools to do so.

This scheme of work grew out of attempts to teach all my students about the technical aspects of theatre
work so that they can use the ideas themselves in creating their own work. And this isn’t just for those who are technically minded – I believe actors should have a basic understanding of the power of a well- placed lantern and this understanding is almost essential for the devising process. The scheme starts with a stage management exercise, because mining a text for design information is a crucial skill. It goes on to consider lighting effects, thinks about sound and props, and then allows the students to have a go themselves.

Don’t worry – the scheme is designed to happen anywhere. You don’t need access to specialist equipment – though you’ll use a lot of tape and need a few torches ....

Learning objectives:

  • To analyse text in the manner of a director/stage manager
  • To make practical use of the information
  • Developing and exploring deriving information from text
  • Learning lighting technical terms
  • Identifying how lighting can be used
  • Using a variety of light sources to create mood and atmosphere
  • To create live sound effects to add to performance work
  • To understand how information can be conveyed by the props and costume in performance
  • Putting the techniques into practice

Number of Lessons: 7

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