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Case Study: OpusStudio at King's Rochester
“Opus has changed the way we structure, plan & teach drama - it plays an integral part in all aspects of the lesson. It influences staging, lighting, sound & how the whole theatrical experience works.”
Steve Mount, Head of Drama & Theatre Studies

The Challenge

Drama was a wholly new subject for King’s Rochester, a co-educational day and boarding school in Kent, when it was introduced in 2015. Also new was Head of Drama and Theatre Studies, Steve Mount, who relished the opportunity to spec and build out a new studio space from the ground up.

OpusStudio was recommended and supplied by Stage Electrics.

“It was the perfect solution to meet our needs - for the space we had available and for the wide age range of the children we’re teaching, from eight to eighteen years,” says Steve. “It appealed to me that even the younger children would be able to engage with the system.”

The Solution

OpusStudio is a complete drama studio solution equipped with the latest low energy technology that will transform any space into a modern Performing Arts Studio. Designed in consultation with drama teaching practitioners, this package delivers a purpose-built and highly flexible creative environment that meets the curriculum requirements for drama and performing arts key stage 3, 4 & 5.

Providing all the necessary sound, stage lighting and audio visual equipment required, OpusStudio is easy to understand and simple to operate.

The User Experience

At King’s Rochester, this OpusStudio installation sees a lot of use. “I use it every day, in every lesson – and crucially, for all ages too,” comments Steve. “To get ready for a lesson I just have to switch Opus on. I use the lighting and sound manually, which is incredibly simple, and for a major performance, we can connect the system to a separate lighting board, to get more out of it.”

As he points out, a teacher’s time is precious, and with just himself and one drama part-timer who helps with the school’s bigger projects, it is crucial that the system is quick and easy to operate so it can be used unaided.  “If I was off sick, I could easily leave instruction and another member of staff could flick the big green button and it would be fine! And the students can use it knowledgeably too.”

"We use the lighting and sound features most regularly, and the easy wireless connection for smartphone compatibility gives us instant sound. The blue-tooth functionality is a real time saver. It means when I'm teaching the younger children, I don’t need to worry about leaving the classroom to find a sound effect or music. I can source it instantly on my device and don’t need to leave the students alone. And it’s so easy to use that there’s always plenty of opportunity for them to get hands-on and operate the system themselves.”

“With OpusHub I can handle everything from one place, which makes both lessons and productions more straightforward to run. Our audiences are also very surprised by what can be achieved in such a small space, using one control console!” 

Features & Benefits

The educational outcomes of installing OpusStudio have been far-reaching.

“Opus has changed the way we structure, plan and teach - it plays an integral part in all aspects of the lesson,” explains Steve. “It influences staging, lighting, sound and how the whole theatrical experience works.”

With OpusStudio, children can become much more involved in the planning and technical operation of a production; helping them build an understanding of what sound, lighting and staging can add to a performance. As he points out: “The students are learning to think in advance about how they might want the sound or lights set up and how to create different atmospheres. Even the younger pupils are thinking about the emotion of a character, time of day and how lighting effects mood.”

With GCSE, A level and LAMDA examinations a new focus at King’s, OpusStudio plays a crucial role in the students’ creative and design work. “At that level, a lot of devising is required.  It’s a big part of what they do, creating their own drama. Actually for the older students it is even more important, as the impact of other mediums on their work (sound, light, video) is part of their overall assessment. Opus gives them hands-on experience and they’re able to plan, rehearse and perform in the same space, which is giving them added confidence.”

Video projection is another OpusStudio feature that is helping King’s drama department enhance lessons and performances. Steve can now regularly use video in lessons and by simply connecting his laptop to both the internet and OpusStudio’s video projection system, he can access and share the growing number of teacher video resources available. “The National Theatre has a great website with vocal coaches and the students can watch and literally take part in an online lesson.  And when we are rehearsing a scene, I can go onto YouTube and together we can watch how it's done by professional actors.”

Away from drama lessons, the whole school community is benefiting from the OpusStudio installation.  It has made their drama studio a perfect venue for school events from 6th form presentations to live streamed performances from the Royal Shakespeare Company simply by connecting a laptop to the internet.

Steve Mount concludes, “Our experience of Opus has been overwhelmingly positive.  It’s a practical, robust, hands-on system for both teachers and pupils. I would recommend it.” 

 

For more information about King's Rochester visit
www.kings-rochester.co.uk

Case Study: OpusStudio at King's Rochester