The Bachelor of Performing Arts (Acting) is Aotearoa’s most prestigious actor training course. Running over three years, this intensive degree programme is designed to train a Responsive Actor – an actor who has the courage, skill and ﬂexibility to meet any opportunity as they build a career in our ever-changing arts landscape. As an actor in training at Toi Whakaari, you will work across screen and live performance in class, studio and full productions. You will work solo, in an ensemble and in collaboration with other training artists across other disciplines in the kura.
"I am grateful to have trained in the craft of performance in Acting for stage and screen at Toi Whakaari. What I value most from my training, was building authentic and robust relationships with my Kaiako, my teachers, based on their encouragement, support of and trust in my creative potential. Training at Toi helped me to be more responsive, and better at adapting to change."
Toi Whakaari’s actor training is built around the concept of Tūrangawaewae – developing your unique place to stand as an actor and artist.
Tūranga, the ﬁrst year, focusses on you. During the year you will build a strong set of foundation skills. You will work with leading professionals and teachers in concentrated blocks to develop your voice, body and imagination in both screen and live performance. In the second half of the year you will work on a classic text for theatrical performance and you will create your own solo piece which you will perform to live audiences.
Raranga, the second year, challenges you to weave your individual skills within the ensemble and take part in collaborative projects. You will also develop screen audition skills and be part of three major live and screen productions. You will also participate in masterclasses that will challenge you and extend your acting craft in exciting ways.
Waewae, the third year, is about growing your independence and connecting you to the industry. You will be part of Toi Film, a live performance production, industry workshops, audition workshops, and self-tape practice. You will also develop and showcase your own work inside and outside the school.
2022 ACTING APPLICATIONS ARE NOW OPEN AND WILL CLOSE 10 SEPTEMBER 2021. Entry into the course is by application and audition. You'll need to submit the online application form and answer the Personal Statement questions below, you'll also need to send us some documents (see the application form for details). All applicants will attend an initial three-hour audition workshop led by Toi Whakaari acting tutors and graduates. This is an active workshop where you will be on the floor working and learning. There is a cost for the initial audition workshop ($50), if cost is an issue please contact us for options. Workshops will take place in Christchurch (18 & 19 September), and Wellington (25 & 26 September), Auckland (2 & 3 October), Hamilton (4 October), bookings can be made clicking the link on the Apply Now page. If you are successful and move to the next phase of the audition process, you will be invited to attend the Applicants’ Weekend (29 - 31 October). Held at Toi Whakaari in Wellington, this three-day intensive workshop will enable you to work with all the acting tutors at Toi Whakaari in a wide range of environments including screen and live performance.
Personal Statement Info:
Your Personal Statement should answer the following questions:
You should aim for around 200 words for each of questions 1 & 2, be succinct! You can type your answers in the form or send us the link to a video (please note: ALL overseas applicants doing online auditions MUST submit video personal statements).
Graduates of Toi Whakaari’s acting programme can be found in prominent positions throughout the entertainment industry in New Zealand and around the world. Today, our acting graduates can be found working as professional actors, producers, writers, teachers, directors, creative content producers and in many other roles across many different sectors. Gaining transferable skills is a key outcome of the actor training programme at Toi Whakaari. This focus pays huge dividends for our students.
“The most signiﬁcant taonga I received from my time at Toi Whakaari were the relationships forged with my peers, my tutors, the alumni and the wider performing arts community. The people I met here are a big reason why I’m still in the game and loving it. Mauri ora!”
Matariki Whatarau, Graduate 2009
- Modern Māori Quartet
Anya Tate-Manning is an award-winning performer, director and writer, who has worked in the New Zealand Arts Industry for over 15 years. She graduated from the Acting program at Toi Whakaari in 2007, having already studied theatre at Otago University, and has since completed an MA in script writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University.
Anya has worked across form and genre in the performing arts, she has toured throughout NZ, Australia and the UK with her solo show My Best Dead Friend, and she is also a founder of the political satire series Public Service Announcements, Wellington's longest running satire, and has made 18 original PSA productions in the last 11 years. Recently, Anya wrote and directed her first short film, Blue Lake, funded by Short Film Otago.
Anya is half Finnish & half Irish, and grew up in Dunedin. She is thrilled to be a tutor of Craft and Creative Practice at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School.
Heather, an Australian of Welsh, Dutch and English decent, is a performance director, maker and educator. Currently the Director of Actor Training at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School, she has led the Acting Department since 2014. Prior to that Heather co-led the development of an Aotearoa and Toi Whakaari specific model of working and learning focused on artistic potential and creative collaboration.
Heather began her first theatre company in London at the age of 22 – Hackney Farm – and since then has directed and created an expansive body of work, appearing in diverse spaces from Festivals to garages, in England, Australia, Kenya, India and now New Zealand. She is a writer of original work, a site and environment specific devisor, a director of text and, an educational innovator.
Heather has an ongoing interest in exploring embodied approaches to text, performance and learning. This has led her to teach in a variety of settings and took her to Los Angeles in 2014, to learn from acclaimed actor, director and writing coach, Joan Scheckel. Heather’s most recent independent project (2018/19) was working with Red Leap Theatre Company on their new work, Owls Do Cry, inspired by Janet Frame’s acclaimed novel.
Mitch is a dedicated Teacher, Writer, Actor, and Director. He is a 1997 alumnus of Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School and proud to be Senior Tutor of Acting in charge of Voice and Industry Practice.
He has written several plays including Coupling, Doughboy, Have Car Will Travel, Jangle and Hui which won the Adam NZ Play Award in 2012. His latest play Pakaru won the same award in 2019. While forging new written work for stage and screen, Mitch appears occasionally as a performer.
He is passionate about helping young people of Aotearoa, and making sure their burgeoning creative voices and critical literacy are nurtured.
“Ko te manu e kai ana i te miro nōnā te ngahere, ko te manu e kai ana i te mātauranga nōnā te ao.”
Vaughan is a Senior Acting Tutor specialising in screen and creative practice. Before that he has worked in the film and television industry as an actor, writer, and in casting. His acting screen credits include Out Of The Blue, Facelift, Welcome To Paradise, Time Trackers, and his theatre credits include Death and the Dreamlife of Elephants, Settling, & Meditations on Saddest Moon. Vaughan’s research interests include neuroscience inside screen acting, and he is currently working on a PHD in film studies.
Sāvaia Lefaga, Luatuānu'u,
Sāmoa nō Porirua tōku Kainga
A graduate of Whitireia and Victoria University, Tupe is a practitioner of Heritage Pacific Dance and Performance. From 2009 - 2019 she taught Siva Sāmoa on the Bachelor of Applied Arts at Whitireia and founded the Le Moana dance company in 2013, creating works such as Fatu Na Totō, 1918 and Purple Onion. Since 2014, Le Moana have hosted the annual Measina Festival and produced works by Auckland based Choreographer Tupua Tigafua.
In 2019, Tupe was awarded the Creative New Zealand Sāmoa Artist in Residence and prior to that she was a specialist choreographer for the World of Wearable Arts 2018. She danced for Choreographer Regine Chopinot in Aotearoa, Japan and New Caledonia before featuring in the critically acclaimed The White Guitar by The Conch. Tupe is currently the Senior Tutor in Movement and Creative Practice at Toi Whakaari: NZ School of Drama.