ROH staff visit National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing
Royal Opera House delivering training courses in China.
Simon Catchpole, Senior Stage Manager at the Royal Opera House, and Robin Auld from The Backstage Centre in Thurrock, recently visited the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) in Beijing, where they delivered a two-week course to managers from the China theatre sector.
The course is part of an ongoing exchange programme with the NCPA, designed to strengthen international ties, further Britain’s international reputation in the arts and support the development of the NCPA.
‘I first visited the NCPA with Tony Hall in 2009,’ said Robin. ‘There has been an enormous increase in production activity since then. The expansion of the theatre sector in China means a great deal of training needs to be put in place and so the NCPA is very keen to develop the programme.’
The training focused on stage and production management, programming, budget and production schedules. Following the course in Beijing, the 25 Chinese delegates then spent a week in London visiting Royal Opera House departments in Covent Garden and Thurrock.
They received masterclasses from a wide variety of Royal Opera House staff, including Director of Opera Kasper Holten, and were shown what goes into preparing and delivering multi-company ballet and opera programmes.
‘The NCPA in Beijing only stage one show at a time, which gives them an enviable length of technical time on stage to build and rehearse,’ explains Robin. ‘As such, the concept of holding a number of productions in the building at the same time was something we were able to focus on.’
The delegates also spent two days at The Backstage Centre in Thurrock, where they had practical lighting sessions to learn the basics of design software and lighting control.
‘There is an increasing emphasis on technical training in China,’ continues Robin. ‘Many of the delegates trained as actors, designers and musicians and so this was a great opportunity for them to work with technical equipment.’
The course culminated in a presentation of an imaginary production schedule across a two-year period leading up to an opening night.
‘The course was basically a three-year degree course condensed into three-weeks!’, says Robin. ‘It was a great success, and further deepens the relationship between the Royal Opera House and the NCPA in a market that is seeing rapid expansion.’
The partnership, which began in December 2012, is set to run until 2017 and will include a series of shared training programmes, education, community and regeneration projects and future co-productions.
Earlier this year, former Royal Ballet Principal Tamara Rojo visited China to create a new work with Chinese choreographer Fei Bo. Find out more about her visit.