Students’ hard work showcased in performances of Noye’s Fludde

DSC_0108Students from across UCA saw their hard work showcased in ACT’s collaborative performance of Noye’s Fludde by Benjamin Britten, in Picardy, France last month. This one-act opera, composed in 1957, has become a major collaborative piece, fuDSC_0401nded by ACT,  that has seen the involvement of students from UCA as well as Melbourne Village College, the Royal Opera House Learning and Participation and  Southend YMCA.

Many staff and students at UCA from a range of courses have taken part:

  • Computer Arts & Animation with Phil Gomm & graduates who were involved in the concept, research & designs for pop-up features such as kite, ark, moon, stars & sun.
  • Creative Arts for Theatre and Film with Chris Hunt, Colin Bean, Graduate Teaching Assistants and 4 dedicated students who were involved in the concept, design and fabrication of main character costumes.
  • Graphic Design: Visual Communication with Hugh Harwood & students who produced graphic images for marketing material in a competition & were involved in documenting the performances.
  • Broadcast Media: students are  involved in documenting the performances.
Scene from Noye's Fludde

Scene from Noye’s Fludde

Joy Golsbrough a student on Creative Arts for Theatre and Film student and costume designer for NF, said,

I thought the performance was beautiful, it was lovely seeing everything work together; the colourful rainbow set, seeing the children’s animal headdresses and LED lights, hearing the orchestra play and the actors sing.The Gossips looked fabulous and the costumes worked well with their characters. Although it wasn’t in the design, I liked the way they had incorporated belts around their waists and attached their shawls to their shoulders.   The patterns on their gowns worked really well and you could distinguish them from a distance. They were bright and colourful. They were better than I imagined them to be.The highlight of the trip for me was speaking to the actor who played Jaffeth, he was so happy with the costume that I had designed for him, and so were his parents. Being a part of a collaboration and working on a live brief was exciting. It meant the work you put in would actually pay off and be recognised by the public. Obviously it is great to add the work to a portfolio and CV. Working with ACT was valuable as it gave more experience outside of UCA and meant you could meet new people in the industry and have an idea of other people’s jobs. Going to France to see the performance and having a posh dinner out was a bonus as well.


Liam Hollingham, Graphic Design: Visual Communication student and poster designer for NF, said

Scene from Noye's Fludde

Scene from Noye’s Fludde

Through doing ACT project for the last year and a half and watching performances like the one that we did I must say that this performance was the most intimate out of the three; it gave a great feeling that you were made part of it. The highlight was the use of interaction and the combination of theatre and orchestra that moulded so well together .

It brought the theatre company together and really brought the characters alive.  I was amazed by everything that came out on stage as it was the first time that I had ever seen the costumes or anything that represented something in such a minimalistic approach.

I think anything more than a live brief like the ones I have worked on the past it make all what you are doing at uni become real in a sense; it builds contacts and understanding the world of work, as well. I learnt that working at uni is a place to learn skills that you can then use in these situations; these projects bring you in to the reality of the world of design work .

Chris Hunt, Course Leader for Creative Arts Theatre and Film, said

This was a great experience for students.  Working as designers on a professional, large-scale  production like this is something which students rarely get the chance to do, and the four costume designers involved – Keri Johnston, Joy Goldsborough, Fenella Barr and Steph Bolduc – really got their teeth into it.  They designed costumes which in essence are modern and colourful but which also resonate with past cultures and Biblical themes.   It was a real challenge for them to work on individual designs and then meet to adjust their designs so that the ensemble worked as a whole, and they managed this process of individual development and co-operation admirably well.


The show will be performed again in England on Thursday 5 and Friday 6 March at Cambridge at Melbourne Village College.

interreg logo


In early September, two technicians from Comédie de Picardie visited UCA workshops at Rochester to collect a backdrop that UCA students had painted at the Royal Opera House High House Production Park in Thurrock for the Comédie de Picardie’s  new creative drama performance, based on collection of poems selected by French writer Jacques Beal from his 1992 Les Poètes de la Grande Guerre. The activity is part of the ACT programme. More information here or contact Amie at

Is print dying?

Marking a celebration of print, students on the Graphic Design: Visual Communication course will explore the changing nature of the printed medium and create a publication to accompany a performance of Felix Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang, performed by the Orchestra de Rouen, France this November.

The publication will ask the audience to consider whether we are losing print in the face of increased online readership and what might we value about printed word in the future.  With the increase of digital archiving, will it only be memories that exist of the once inherently physical medium of the printed word?

A group of students will be offered the opportunity to attend the performance in November and distribute the publication to the audience. This opportunity is supported by the ACT programme.

For more information please contact Amie at

Students get involved in opera

Britten’s one-act opera Noye’s Fludde will be a large collaborative performance taking place in Amiens in January 2015 and then visiting Cambridge in March 2015 as part of the ACT project – this will be the final performance as part of the ACT project, and our biggest one to date!  Three courses will be involved in the delivery of the project: Creative Arts for Theatre and Film, Rochester, where students will design costumes and accessories for the main characters; Computer Arts and Animation, Rochester, who will develop a visual concept for the stage and Graphic Design: Visual Communication, Canterbury, where students will come up with designs for marketing.  Although work is still in the early stages of development, we’re looking forward to seeing how it will all unravel on stage next year.

For more information please contact Amie at

UCA produce multi-disciplinary artwork in collaboration with the Royal Opera House on Verdi’s Requiem


UCA staff, alumni and students’ hard work and creativity were showcased at the Royal Opera House’s High House Production Park in Thurrock in early July as a part of an ongoing project to explore new territories for the meeting of sound, sculpture and light.  This project, as with many other student projects taking place across UCA, was made possible by support through Interreg funding.  The work produced was also showcased at the FUSED Festival, a three-day festival of concerts, workshops and exhibitions run by the Royal Opera House.

Using Verdi’s Requiem as the starting point, students from two courses at Rochester and Canterbury campuses investigated ways in which the piece could come alive visually using light and sculpture whilst still maintaining an integral relationship to the sound.

The animation course in Rochester visited a November performance of the Requiem and  using motion sensors attached to the conductor’s body, captured the movements over the 90 minute performance.  Through a series of technical processes, the data was transformed into seven pieces of sculpture.  Phil, Course Leader on the CG Arts and Animation course called upon the skills and talents of his existing students, alumni and colleagues to conceive of and develop the project.  Jonathan Simms (Lecturer in Photography at UCA) described this as a ‘community of learning’.

Although many hands and minds came together to bring this work to fruition, there were two key individuals who played significant roles in the development and actualisation of the work.  Ethan Shilling provided a high level of technical know-how and research to take the original data from the conductor and transform these into digital curves, which became the building blocks for other students to develop ideas from, and Tim Hall, a UCA alumni, who now successfully runs his own business, willingly took on the project and single-handedly fabricated all seven sculptures from sheet metal.

The sculptures were exhibited in the Walled Garden at the Royal Opera House’s High House Production Park in Purfleet, during two festival performances of the Verdi’s Requiem on 3rd and 4th July, conducted by the celebrated Arie van Beek with Thurrock Community Chorus and Brighton Festival Chorus joining forces with Orchestre de Picardie and Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne.

Over at the Canterbury campus, Hugh Harwood, Course Leader Graphic Design: Visual Communication and sessional staff member Hala Georges embedded the project into their Level 1 programme and involved almost 40 students in the production of visual and typographic responses to the Requiem.  These unique and individual responses were digitally stitched together and came together as little moments that illuminated the large outer wall at the Backstage Centre from where the performance had just taken place.  Hala Georges, a UCA sessional staff member working with Hugh said “We were thinking about whether the projection would work on the concrete or the grey wall. We tested it on various surfaces, and seeing it now, it’s very satisfying.”

Richard Brittain, Head of Thurrock Music Services, remarked about the projections; “They are creating a very evocative mood. A great deal of creative thinking has gone into the designs and as the darkness is falling in, they are peering through the light.”

The project enabled some artists to step back from their normal practice to focus on a new direction. Jordan Buckner, a graduate teaching assistant at UCA and CG Arts Alumni said, “I worked on generating ideas for the sculptures in the early phase of the project. Through it, I’ve managed to break away from doing the same thing that I might normally do. It’s allowed me a lot of artistic freedom during the design process. I think my new works will be influenced by this project and allow me to move into new directions, and away from what people might typically expect from a CG Arts graduate”

It also enabled students to learn more about the process of commissioned art. Jonathan Simms, Senior Lecturer, Photography at UCA, said “The value of these external projects to our students, the work that goes into working with external partners and the work that the students do is incredible. These projects join the dots with the academic world and the professional world of commissioned art.”

Members of the audience were invited to put their own slant on the sculptures and showed their enjoyment of the exhibition through their animated conversation. Audience members described the artwork variously as “Those lampshades that we used to get in the 70s that were pre-packed and you had to put together”, “a horses mane” and “a double doughnut,”

Gabrielle Forster-Still of the Royal Opera House said, “It’s interesting to see how the Requiem can inspire art – I really like that.”

UCA’s involvement with the performance and the festival take place as part of ACT – A Common Territory, a European partnership between 12 different organisations. ACT supports creative and collaborative projects with local and European partners and is co-funded by the ERDF Interreg IVA France (Channel) England programme

To view the Images of sculptures, click here.

Creative partnership with Royal Opera House and Comédie de Picardie flourishing

Students with the finished backdrop

From the UCA Newsdesk:

Second year students of BA (Hons) Creative Arts for Theatre & Film at University for the Creative Arts  Rochester have been helping to design the sets for French Theatre Comédie de Picardie’s new creative drama performance, an anthology of music and poems by WW1 poets.

At the end of March,  the students based themselves at the Royal Opera House Production Park in Thurrock and worked with scenic painter Viv Sendall to complete the 10 by 7 metre gauze backdrop that will be used for the November performances. The performance will be based on a collection of poems selected by local writer Jacques Beal from his 1992 Les Poètes de la Grande Guerre (The Poets of the Great War).

Detail painting

Detail painting

This is the second time that UCA has worked in partnership with the Royal Opera House and Comédie de Picardie, made possible through UCA’s involvement with the Interreg funded project, ACT (A Common Territory). Last year, students worked with Comédie de Picardie to design and create the sets, props and costumes for French language premiere of an adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s final novel, Between the Acts.The students have worked closely with artistic director of the performance, Jean-Luc Revol, who has provided critical feedback to the students to help them develop their designs. The Comédie de Picardie technical team visited the Royal Opera House Production Park recently to run some light tests, and writer Jacques Beal has also been on site with the students. UCA Rochester student Fen Barr has been part of the group working on the project.

Seeing my design produced was really exciting and being able to create it myself with my peers was an especially rewarding experience,” said Fen. “The scale of it was pretty amazing as I had never worked on any piece of work that size before. It was great to be able to work alongside industry professionals at the Opera House. Everybody was very friendly and supportive, particularly Viv Sendall who helped us to make the design a reality. I think all of us have been inspired by our experience; not only have we learned a lot but the project has also built our confidence as young professionals.

Taking shape

Taking shape

The students proposed their developed designs and presented them to the director whilst visiting France. Further meetings at UCA Rochester have enabled them to refine their stage designs for the performance.

Working with a French theatre in a professional context is a real privilege,” said Chris Hunt, Course Leader for Creative Arts for Theatre & Film at UCA. “The process of designing for the stage, getting the director’s feedback and pitching their ideas in Amiens has given the students a real taste of a competitive design process. It’s a great career advantage to work on a real international project like this.

Chapter House Talks

Chapter House Ceiling © Copyright Rob Farrow and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The Chapter House at Canterbury Cathedral was the stunning backdrop to two talks given by UCA staff to an international audience, members of the ACT programme, on 12th May.  Phil Gomm, Course Leader BA CG Arts and Animation, and Hugh Harwood, Course Leader Graphic Design: Visual Communication spoke about their students’ cutting-edge visualisation projects that relate to the upcoming performance of Verdi’s Requiem at the Royal Opera House’s High House Production Park . The performances will take place on the 3 & 4 July and will also be included as part of the FUSED Festival in Purfleet (3-5 July) – a three day annual festival of concerts, workshops, interactive exhibitions and activities.

UCA hosted the French partners for two days on 12 and 13 May 2014.

The images below represent some of the students’ work on the Verdi project.