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BA Production Arts and Design

Introduction

Welcome to Production at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Production consists of both the BA Production Arts and Design and the BA Production Technology and Management programmes. Production students will work very closely with each other in the classroom and on RCS productions.

Ros Maddison is Head of Production and has been leading the department since 2002, before which she taught stage management. Prior to this, she worked as a freelance stage manager across Scotland. Ros has been External Examiner for a variety of other institutions including RADA and Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts. She became a Fellow of the Royal Conservatoire in 2012.

The Production Arts and Design programme has been designed to create a high-level conservatoire learning environment for aspiring scenic artists, prop makers, stage carpenters, costume makers, and set and costume designers. You will learn in an environment where your technical knowledge is as important as your creativity and individuality.

You will be accepted based on your profile in one particular area, taken from the five subjects on offer (scenic art, set construction, costume construction, prop-making, and set and costume design). You will follow an individually-negotiated pathway based on a major and minor study to ensure a quality learning experience and afford you the opportunity to engage with the broad and diverse range of performance programmes.

The opportunity to work with film-makers, dancers, musicians and actors is unique and the facilities in which we do this are second to none. The Wallace Studios at Speirs Locks has purpose-built production workshops and design studios and the Renfrew Street building houses five public performance spaces including a fully-equipped proscenium arch theatre and a black box studio theatre. The combination of professional venues, extensive workshops, construction spaces, design studios and the latest stage and workshop technologies provide a fantastic learning environment.

As our standards are rooted in industry practice we have exceptionally strong links with professional partners from across the UK and beyond. We have very close relationships with the key Scottish national companies, such as Scottish Opera, the National Theatre of Scotland and Scottish Ballet as well as the majority of regional theatres such as the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, Pitlochry Festival Theatre and the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh. We work closely with industry to ensure the expertise you acquire is current, competitive and of the highest professional standard.

Introduction

Welcome to Production at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Production consists of both the BA Production Arts and Design and the BA Production Technology and Management programmes. Production students will work very closely with each other in the classroom and on RCS productions.

Ros Maddison is Head of Production and has been leading the department since 2002, before which she taught stage management. Prior to this, she worked as a freelance stage manager across Scotland. Ros has been External Examiner for a variety of other institutions including RADA and Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts. She became a Fellow of the Royal Conservatoire in 2012.

The Production Arts and Design programme has been designed to create a high-level conservatoire learning environment for aspiring scenic artists, prop makers, stage carpenters, costume makers, and set and costume designers. You will learn in an environment where your technical knowledge is as important as your creativity and individuality.

You will be accepted based on your profile in one particular area, taken from the five subjects on offer (scenic art, set construction, costume construction, prop-making, and set and costume design). You will follow an individually-negotiated pathway based on a major and minor study to ensure a quality learning experience and afford you the opportunity to engage with the broad and diverse range of performance programmes.

The opportunity to work with film-makers, dancers, musicians and actors is unique and the facilities in which we do this are second to none. The Wallace Studios at Speirs Locks has purpose-built production workshops and design studios and the Renfrew Street building houses five public performance spaces including a fully-equipped proscenium arch theatre and a black box studio theatre. The combination of professional venues, extensive workshops, construction spaces, design studios and the latest stage and workshop technologies provide a fantastic learning environment.

As our standards are rooted in industry practice we have exceptionally strong links with professional partners from across the UK and beyond. We have very close relationships with the key Scottish national companies, such as Scottish Opera, the National Theatre of Scotland and Scottish Ballet as well as the majority of regional theatres such as the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, Pitlochry Festival Theatre and the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh. We work closely with industry to ensure the expertise you acquire is current, competitive and of the highest professional standard.

Programme structure

Students on this programme are interviewed and accepted based on their profile in one particular area of study taken from the five subjects on offer (scenic art, set construction, costume construction, prop making and set & costume design). This subject becomes their major study and is the basis for their pathway through the programme and potential employment opportunities after graduation.

Year One

You will experience all areas of the theatre production process as well as build initial skills and knowledge in your major subject. You will receive a broad based introduction to the production environment and the standard practices both in production arts and design and also in its sister programme production technology and management. In the five core subjects, the design process is examined through a range of projects, workshop rotations and collaborative projects culminating in the choice of a minor subject to compliment your major study pathway. You will also investigate the collaborative nature of production and performance have the opportunity to work with other year one students from across RCS.

Year Two

You will consolidate your skills and knowledge and be introduced to more advanced approaches and techniques including management and self-promotion.

Production Arts students engage with practice-based work on RCS productions as part of a collaborative team with students from third year. Processes, skills and techniques are gathered as well as the opportunity to observe senior students in managerial positions. Design students explore the design process from concept to final presentation through personal projects and begin the process of designing for a fully-realised production. This leads to an allocation as Designer for an RCS production – normally realised on stage in the first weeks of year three. Here begins your individual pathway, as negotiated with your Transitions Tutor, where learning is designed to promote your own individual development and achievement. Professional practice focuses on the development of the individual portfolio and personal promotion skills. You will also have ‘Choice’ modules where you can choose from a range of modules on offer from programmes across the institution, or undertake a negotiated project

Year Three

Year three enables you to consolidate of all of your learning and exploration and develop specialist skills in autonomous situations. Each student negotiates their individual pathway in third year to take advantage of the available production roles, personal projects, options modules and secondment opportunities. The secondment ensures you are making contacts with industry practitioners and potential employers. A showcase of work is exhibited and a range of potential employers are invited to view your work.

Assessment

Most work is assessed through staff observations of your practice but reflection underpins the approach to assessment, and reflective journals and summary statements form a key component of assessment in all modules. There is a strong emphasis on the assessment of process. Students in levels two and three engage in portfolio building as an element of professional development planning, specifically designed to aid their self-promotion, and transition into the workplace.

Student profiles

Kenneth MacLeod

Kenneth-MacLeod

Kenneth is a third year Production Arts and Design student, specialising in set and costume design. Here he talks about why he chose to study Production and his recent project – designing the set for the musical theatre production of West Side Story in the New Athenaeum Theatre.

You specialise in set and costume design; why did you decide to focus on this area?
I enjoy the process of taking a text and deciphering it, and that experimental period of playing with models and sketches and exploring the possibilities of how best a story can be told. I also enjoy how much it brings you into collaboration with all of the other production departments, and how much you’re constantly learning from that interaction.

Can you take us through what a typical day is like as a Production student?
Every day is very different. If you are a Production Arts student, a normal day will consist of you working in the workshops at the Wallace Studios, but as a design student, you could be in the design studio making a model, meeting with a director or searching for props for a DFTV collaboration on the other side of town; the course is what you make of it, and it can lead you to doing all sorts.

You recently pitched your set design idea to Andrew Panton (Artistic Director of Musical Theatre) for West Side Story. Can you tell us about the creative process that led to your idea and what it was like pitching your vision?
The idea really came from a desire to breathe new life into West Side Story – to go back to the original material, disregard all previous approaches and really try to get to the core of what the show is, and how that could be explored in its aesthetic. I listened to a lot of the music that inspired Bernstein, and did in-depth research into the Upper West Side in New York and the sorts of areas and environments that the gangs of West Side might skulk around in.

With the help of another third-year student, a lighting designer Robbie Butler, we pitched our idea to Andrew and the Musical Theatre department. It was a nerve-wracking experience, but fortunately they loved it.

Now that your design is in the process of being created, how have you been collaborating with the various departments and what is it like seeing your vision brought to life?
Musical theatre is such an intense medium, it’s vital that the design works alongside the performers in every way possible. For example, I’ve been working with the costume department and the choreographer, to ensure that the footwear works for the performers and for the “look” of the show, as well as working with my colleagues in the construction workshop to make sure all the set pieces are capable of high-octane dancing and staging.

It’s a strange experience having the design in your mind and your sketchbooks for six months or so, and then sharing it with the production artists, stage managers, technicians and performers – it’s very surreal seeing it brought to life on stage.

What work placements have you undertaken within the industry?
Some of my external work experience has seen me work with Eden Court Theatre, in my hometown of Inverness, as well as with Glasgow-based theatre company Vox Motus. Glasgow is very much the creative centre of Scotland, and being at RCS feels like being at the epicentre of it all. Everyone always knows someone, who knows someone, who is doing what you want to do – so keeping in contact with the industry is never a stretch.

Glasgow is so vibrant, particularly for a designer, it’s never hard to find relevant work. From visual art, to production design on television and film, everything’s on your doorstep. My fellow students have worked on commercial theatre, feature films, national television and on international concert tours, and this is all long before even graduating.

What advice would you give people who are thinking about applying to study Production at RCS ?
For the Production Arts and Design course, RCS is looking for people who have a clear and defined passion. The most frequent thing I see is prospective students clamming up with nerves at their interview – try your hardest not to do this and keep your curiosity and passion for the arts flowing and make sure the panel sees what you are capable of.

Staff and masterclasses

There are three levels of full-time staffing support for students on the BA Production Arts and Design Programme. They are as follows:

Programme Teams

Oversee the academic process and deliver formal teaching and tutorials. The BA Production Arts and Design Team is made up of the Head of Production and five dedicated lecturers.

Ros Maddison – Head of Production/Programme Leader

Gary Fry – Lecturer in Scenic Art

Zander Lee – Lecturer in Scenery Construction

Martin Mallorie – Lecturer in Design and Props Construction

Christine Murphy – Lecturer in Design and Costume Construction

Robin Peoples – Lecturer in Design

The BA Production Technology and Management Programme team deliver a range of sessions on your programme especially throughout year one. Also led by the Head of Production, the team consists of four dedicated lecturers and two tutors.

Steve Macluskie – Lecturer in Stage Technology

Susan May Hawley – Lecturer in Stage Management

Christoph Wagner – Lecturer in Lighting

Jevan Burchell – Lecturer in Sound Technology

Rosanna Sutherland – Stage Management Tutor

Christine Scott – Lighting and Sound Tutor

Central Production Unit (CPU)

The Central Production Unit consists of tutors who mentor and supervise students in the production arts workshops including tuition and tutorial support. There are also three Production Managers in the CPU who will be your line managers on production work but who also have tutor status and are there to support your learning. The CPU is separate to the School of Drama, Dance, Production and Screen and supports all RCS productions as required.

Venues’ Team Technicians

Mentor and supervise students in the RCS venues and provide advice and guidance in production practice. The Venues Team also work independently to the School of Drama, Dance, Production and Screen and have responsibility for all RCS internal venues. The team is led by;

Kevin Robertson – Resident Stage Manager

The Programme also has administration support from the AAS staff.

June Forbes Programme Support Administrator (Production & Screen)

Visiting Staff and Practitioners

Design students are sometimes mentored by a professional designer as well as full-time staff in order to make contacts and reap the benefit of advice straight from the industry. Recent design mentors and Design Masterclasses have included;

  • Becky Minto
  • Hazel Blue
  • Pamela Howard
  • Simon Higlett

In addition to this the department work with a range of professional practitioners in order to support RCS productions, these include; designers, scenic artists, prop makers, costume makers and carpenters.

Why choose us?

  • Only degree of its kind in Scotland
  • Only UK conservatoire offering opportunities in production to collaborate with staff and students across dance, drama, music and screen
  • Excellent staff-student ratio (2:1)
  • Industry placement
  • Final year showcase
  • Regular workshops and masterclasses with distinguished visiting professionals
  • Develop invaluable industry contacts with our unrivalled professional partners including Scottish Opera, National Theatre of Scotland, National Theatre in London, Scottish Ballet, Citizens Theatre, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Disney Cruise Lines, Association of British Theatre Technicians, Association of Stage Pyrotechnicians, Production Lighting and Sound Association, Stage Technologies and Just FX
  • Work on a diverse range of productions
  • Purpose built production workshops and design studios and six public performance spaces
  • Regular presence at the Prague Quadrennial Design Exhibition and the Word Stage Design Exhibition
  • ‘Best Design Team in the World’ winners at the 2009 World Stage Design Exhibition
  • Study abroad opportunities in Europe, California and Hong Kong

 

How to apply

Applications for the BA Production Arts and Design programme should be made through the UCAS Conservatoires website. There is a UCAS application fee of £24 (which is in addition to the audition fee) which allows you up to six choices of programme of study.

Preparing for the interview

You are invited to bring any evidence to the interview that you think will support your application. The interview panel will judge each applicant as an individual with a unique mix of qualities. You are encouraged to bring practical examples of your work to the interview which might take the form of:

  • art portfolios, sketches, models, photographs
  • samples of practical work such as props, costume, small pieces of woodwork, etc
  • set and/or costume designs either as sketches, renderings or three dimensional models
  • evidence of previous production experience, whether at school, amateur level or professionally

Before your interview, you will be sent a predefined exercise which is intended to illustrate your skills as a production artist or designer and to show your approach to a given task. You will be asked to bring your response to this exercise to the interview and you will also be asked to discuss a piece of theatre that you have seen recently.

Before applying we recommend that you read the Guide for Applicants which provides information regarding entry requirements, and the full application and audition process. Download the Guide for Applicants here.

Entry requirements

  • Scottish Highers – 3 passes (grade C or above)
  • A Levels – 2 passes
  • International Baccalaureate – minimum score of 24 with 3 subjects at Higher Level

We offer a flexible approach to students taking Highers over more than one academic year and/or who achieve their qualifications in more than one sitting.

Entrance to the Conservatoire is based on talent, potential and ability, therefore consideration will be given to relevant experience which is deemed to compensate for any traditional education. We accept a wide range of qualification, including international qualifications. If you wish to check the suitability of your qualification/experience, please contact us ( admissions@rcs.ac.uk ).

English Language

The language of study is English. Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of proficiency in English. We accept the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Other equivalent English Language qualifications may be considered, please contact us (admissions@rcs.ac.uk ) for more information.

  • IELTS – 6.5 with a minimum score of 5.5 in each component

Audition Requirements

Audition requirements can be found in the Undergraduate Drama Dance Production and Screen Guide for Applicants on the following website

Fees & scholarships

Tuition fees for academic year 2016-17

  • Scottish/EU Students – £1,820
  • Rest of UK (RUK) Students – £9,000
  • International (Non EU) – £15,135

Scottish/EU students

The Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) will pay tuition fees for all eligible full-time Scottish-based and other non-UK undergraduate EU students, who are studying in Scotland at degree level for the first time. Students should apply to SAAS for payment of tuition fees even if they are not applying for any other means of support. Eligible students can also apply for student loans through SAAS . For further advice and to check eligibility contact SAAS directly on 0300 555 0505 or visit their website .

Rest of UK students

Students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland studying in Scotland will be eligible for the same funding/loan package that they would benefit from if they attended an institution in their home country. For further advice please visit student finance England , student financeWales , or student finance Northern Ireland as appropriate.

International students

Students from outside the EU typically fund higher education by a variety of resources, depending on the home country. More specific information on funding options relevant to specific countries can be found here .

Scholarships

Any potential student who auditions for a place at the Royal Conservatoire will automatically be considered for a scholarship. They are awarded on a combination of talent, potential and financial need. More information about Scholarships is available here

Sources of external funding

For more information about alternative funding sources, including external scholarships and bursaries, please visit here.

The Conservatoire’s International and Student Experience team are available to advise and assist applicants and current students in respect of queries about funding your studies at the Conservatoire. Please email or telephone +44 (0)141 270 8281/ +44 (0)141 270 8223 for further information.

Graduate destinations

Recent graduates have found employment in positions such as:

  • Assistant Carpenter (Royal Lyceum and Pitlochry Festival Theatre)
  • Assistant Scenic Artist (Royal Opera House, Royal Lyceum, Citizens Theatre and Pitlochry Festival Theatre)
  • Art Department (BBC and various independent films)
  • Costume Intern (Scottish Opera, Outlander)

As well as in Design roles with organisations such as BBC, National Theatre of Scotland, the Arches Theatre and the Tron Theatre, as well as the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Graduates include

Sarah Marshall – Master Carpenter, Royal Lyceum Theatre

Susie Inglis – Designer, Visible Fictions & others

Rebecca Hamilton – Co-designer Tin Forest, National Theatre of Scotland

Linsey Sinnamon – Head Scenic Artist, films include Outpost, Outpost:Black Sun, and Legacy:Black Ops

Ayden Miller – Art Director The Weakest Link

Richard Evans – Designer, Sell a Door Theatre Company

Facilities

In addition to being an academic institution, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is Scotland’s busiest performing arts venues. Its outstanding and well-equipped performance facilities provide a rich resource for the community, and are regularly hired for public presentations by local and national performing arts companies for dance and drama productions as well as for music concerts and recitals. This makes RCS a hub for performing arts activities in Glasgow and provides a stimulating contribution to Production students’ learning environment.

The Renfrew Street building houses a variety of sophisticated, state-of-the-art venues, which were purpose-built to accommodate different types of performance genre and production styles to varying audience sizes.

The New Athenaeum Theatre is the largest performance space and principal auditorium, seating 344. In terms of through-put this venue functions in exactly the same way as any professional producing theatre housing both drama and opera productions. The counterweight flying system is situated on the stage right side of the space. The proscenium opening is variable and the orchestra pit can be mechanically raised to form an extended forestage.

The Chandler Studio is a flexible space with approximately 100 seats, which are movable, modular units that can be arranged to represent end-on, traverse or promenade staging configurations. The Studio is often used for smaller scale, more intimate and experimental theatre work, but is nevertheless fully equipped with lighting and sound equipment, and has appropriate backstage access to the construction and painting workshops.

The Alexander Gibson Opera School houses rehearsal and coaching rooms and a relatively adaptable performance space for small-scale drama projects, opera scenes, music recitals and concerts.

The Wallace Studios at Speirs Locks are excellent, fully equipped design and workshop spaces where both production work and student practical training occur. These facilities are second to none and include wet and dry prop rooms, a paint shop with full sized paint frame and motorised bridge, a fully equipped machine shop and construction workshop with welding bay, ample costume construction workshops with considerable wardrobe stock stores and three studios for production arts and design class and project work.

The award-winning facilities and equipment have been acknowledged as sector leading both nationally and internationally and RCS has an established track record for providing the highest quality education in the Technical and Production Arts.

Students may also work in external spaces and venues such as the Tron Theatre, the Theatre Royal in Glasgow, the Kings Theatre and the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh and the Criterion in London.

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