Featured Graduates

Sarah Adams and Maria Deere share what they’ve been doing since graduating, and where they’re headed next!

Sarah Adams

After graduating from Toi Whakaari with a Bachelor of Performing Arts (Management) in 2010, I began a freelance career on the road as Touring Stage Manager on Strange Resting Places and Awhi Tapu, both with Taki Rua Theatre Company. In mid 2011 I secured a contract working for David Atkin Enterprises on the Rugby World Cup Opening Ceremony as the Stadium Logistics Coordinator based in Eden Park. During 2011 I also worked with Tanemahuta Gray on many of his works, including Arohanui: The Greatest Love, a full length touring show featuring thirty of Aotearoa’s award winning kapa haka performers, which combined Māori performing art and theatre and was produced by Te Matatini for the REAL New Zealand Festival during the Rugby World Cup period.

In November 2011 I made the move to Melbourne where I worked on various Festivals and Events. The following February I moved to London where I began a contract with LOCOG (London Organising Committee of Olympic and Paralympic Games) as Olympic Park Visits and Events Coordinator. After three months in the role with LOCOG I moved into a more fitting role in the Ceremonies Team as MDS (Master Delivery Schedule), Storage and Freight Production Assistant for all four ceremonies.

Following the London Olympics, I moved back to Melbourne for a contract with The St Kilda Festival, as Production Safety Administrator, as well as some short work on other Festivals around Australia. In the next week I will be moving to Mersin, Turkey for a role on the Mediterranean Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies and later in 2013 I will relocate to Russia for a role in the Ceremonies Team on the Winter Olympics, which will be held in Sochi in February 2014.

Maria Deere

I graduated from Toi Whakaari in 2010, and since then have had a fairly dynamic and entertaining variety of roles. Freelancing, I’ve worked with everything from 38cm puppets to super sized bands like Eru Dangerspiel and Fly My Pretties, theatre shows, Fringe events, music festivals and a few things involving shipping containers (as you do). I also got into Comedy, as the Wellington production manager of the NZ International Comedy Festival.

A couple of years and many laughs later, I’ve ended up in Auckland as the Festival & Event Producer for the New Zealand Comedy Trust.

The Trust runs development programmes like Class Comedians for high-school students and Comedy Lab for testing new material and getting feedback; we administer the Billy T & Fred Awards; fund new projects via the Creative Comedy Initiative; as well as support and advise the comedy community.  We’re mad keen on working within the wider arts community and championing the art of laughter.

Our main event is of course, the NZ International Comedy Festival. The Festival turns 21 this year and comedians are coming from all over the world to celebrate with us. Over 3 weeks we’ll play host to 200+ comedians & comic performers.

Producing a Festival this size (as well as the Comedy Gala for TV broadcast, a national tour of 13 shows, and more than 10 other large-scale events within the Festival) is definitely the biggest job I’ve taken on since Toi but my incredible, challenging & thorough training at Toi has given me the tools to get it done (I hope?…ask me in again in June).

Either way, I know with the support and mad skills of the Festival staff, the comedians, promoters, venues, as well as the sheer quantity of laughs (and grumpy cat memes) will mean we’ll all have an awesome time doing it. Which is precisely what a career in the arts promised us right?

Check out the NZ International Comedy Festival at www.comedyfestival.co.nz

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