Designed to renew and inspire Irish theatre, film and television, The Lir Academy opened in 2011 with a vision to become a centre of excellence for the dramatic arts in Ireland. Developed with collaboration from the Cathal Ryan Trust, and in association with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA), The Lir offers first-rate training for the theatre and related professions. This year, the institution has turned its attention to updating its curriculum for technical theatre and lighting design students, leading to a partnership with ETC.
For several years, ETC’s Playhouse at Gypsy Corner has been the education hub for the UK and Ireland, necessitating trips to London for Ireland-based technicians wanting to undertake ETC training. In recognition of ETC and The Lir’s mutual interest in training technical skills in theatre to the highest possible standards, the two organisations have teamed up to make ETC-approved courses available in Ireland.
ETC education specialist Sarah Clausen and ETC Regional Sales Manager Mark White met with Barry Conway, director of technical training at The Lir, to discuss his desire to implement Ion console training in the Academy’s programmes. His goal was for students to be trained in the latest lighting technology, and also to ETC’s rigorous standards. ETC agreed to support the proposal by supplying an Ion desk and a variety of luminaires, including Source Four® and ColorSource fixtures, to supplement The Lir’s existing equipment. Furthermore, Conway has since developed and implemented a syllabus built upon ETC’s training materials.
“It’s interesting that The Lir Academy not only approached us to help support them in training their students on our equipment, but also to work in partnership to devise a curriculum based around our materials,” says Clausen. “We’re very much open to this type of arrangement and are looking to set up similar schemes with other academic institutions.”
The training offered by The Lir takes place in an impressive building, incorporating black box performance studios, a dance studio, a technical workshop, wardrobe workshop and a range of flexible teaching spaces to suit the specific training needs of theatre practitioners. Students at The Lir come from very diverse backgrounds and are accepted on the basis of exceptional natural talent.
To facilitate the development of its students, the Academy has appointed Dublin-based Kevin Smith as its dedicated ETC console trainer. Smith, also an acclaimed lighting designer, performed a training session under the watchful eyes of Clausen and White to ensure his technique complied with ETC’s criteria. “Kevin is confident in his presentation style and he has a beautiful way of training,” says White. “We were very impressed.”
Speaking of the collaboration, Conway says, “The reception to us offering ETC-approved training in Ireland is very positive and lending The Lir much kudos. The support given by ETC is a solid endorsement of their commitment to technical training for the theatre industry. I see this relationship as being a very healthy and positive one and I’m very excited for The Lir to have such supportive partners in technical excellence.”