Arts academy responds to growing demand

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 March, 2007, 12:00am

WITH TOURIST VENUES and hotels laying on entertainment spectacles, the demand for stage design professionals in Hong Kong and Macau has never been greater.

This is good news for graduates of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA), which over the years has provided some of Hong Kong's top names in both the performing arts and the

technical side of theatrical production.

The academy continually responds to the latest requirements of the entertainment world. For example, its School of Technical Arts has introduced new concepts and updated its range of programmes in an effort to give students a competitive edge.

'Not only do these courses give designers and technicians training for theatre, they also offer applicable knowledge in interior design, production [and other areas],' said Gillian Choa Man-chi, senior lecturer in theatre design and the school's academic co-ordinator for technical arts.

'Technical skills such as lighting design require constant updating,' dean of the school John Williams said.

He contrasted this with skills such as acting and painting, which require learning classical techniques and refinement over the years.

To ensure that the school is in touch with all the latest developments, Mr Williams and his colleagues maintain close contact with professional groups such as Cirque du Soleil and the Hong Kong Ballet. This provides external advice and new ideas.

The school also hosts artists in residence from different fields, and offers a wide range of international internships to give students the broadest experience.

Lighting designer Jeff Lui Pak-lap benefited from the school and has gone on to enjoy an exceptional career. Among other shows, he has worked on the Symphony of Lights and the Lunar New Year fireworks displays.

'As an HKAPA graduate, I am able to add a refined edge to my work,' Mr Lui said.

'Combining music and general co-ordination, I aim to create a coherent narrative in my displays.'

He said people usually thought of lighting as one of the support roles in a production. 'However, when it comes to a project like Symphony of Lights, you have to remember that lighting becomes the main star.'

Another graduate of the academy, Fiona Yu Ting, is Hong Kong Disneyland's production stage manager for atmosphere and entertainment. She studied stage management and subsequently worked on various drama, opera and concert productions.

'In an amusement park like Disney, where lines of business are varied and complex, working with people provides the greatest rewards and challenges of my job,' she said.

Ms Yu was previously a stage manager for the Lion King show, and her current responsibilities include creating a happy street atmosphere, managing theatre shows and parades, and co-ordinating the hotel orchestras.

'The knowledge one acquires at school can be applied to different areas of the industry, but what's most important is that the individual is passionate and flexible enough to make a difference.'