The Bachelor of Design (Stage & Screen) is an intensive practical course covering the essential skills to design set and costume for traditional performance on both the stage and screen, alongside developing critical and ideation skills for work that expands notions of performance in the 21st Century. The course takes up to 12 students a year to ensure high levels of individualised learning and opportunities.
"I would describe Toi Whakaari as a playground for artists. It’s a three-year opportunity to be grounded in a space with equipment, books, spaces, experienced staff and guest tutors and, most importantly, peers who can be collaborators, critics, mentors and examples of success and failure. In its prime the design degree is a mix of diverse crafts, where you learn through experience and through each other. The design degree deals especially with developing one’s process and self awareness through practical applications, which have proved to be invaluable skills."
You will learn Performance Design through a range of practical workshops, intellectual enquiry, studio-based and collaborative projects.
Practical design skills – technical hand drawing and CAD, basic set construction, scenic painting, props creation and scale model making
Conceptual projects in Costume Design and Production Design
Critical design studies – analysis of screen and live arts
Assistant designer on in-house productions
Specialised experimental Design-led projects
Intern to professional companies and designers of your choice
Conceptual projects in Design for film and live event
Lead designer on theatre and a film production
Self-directed research project
Internship and graduation exhibition
2022 DESIGN FOR STAGE & SCREEN APPLICATIONS ARE NOW OPEN AND WILL CLOSE 1 OCTOBER 2021. All applicants are asked to submit an online application form and a portfolio of your work.
Personal Statement Info:
In the Personal Statement section of the Application Form please answer the following questions (150-200 words each MAX):
You are encouraged to share some personal insights and influences that have shaped you.
We accept digital portfolios only (PDF, PowerPoint, Google Slides).
Your portfolio should demonstrate your artistic skills and experience in the arts. You may use work produced at School, at work, in your community, at home or at leisure.
A good portfolio will demonstrate your process and the finished product - your portfolio may contain unrealised work. It will show us your level of conceptualising, developing and refining ideas through drawing, images, video/film or creative making. Consider examples of quality work or projects rather than quantity of work – your portfolio should contain at least five pieces of work or projects. It is not crucial to show us design work for live or film productions, show us your creativity and passion for the arts through a variety of works/projects.
Portfolio examples to include:
For 15 years, our Design course has produced designers of the highest standard who work in New Zealand and internationally. Toi Whakaari graduates are leaders in performance-based arts practice and have successfully forged careers in dance, events, film, and stage productions.
“Since graduating in 2007 and completing a Masters of Design in 2010 I have worked as a freelance performance designer and director on projects that include live art, contemporary theatre, video, projection and installation design.”
Meg Rollandi, Graduate 2007, Masters 2010
- Lecturer in Spatial Design
College of Creative Arts,
"My time studying at Toi Whakaari allowed me to not only further my craft in scenography and design but also to work alongside performers, technicians and directors. It was an invaluable experience to be able to develop collaborative relationships in this early stage of my career and be guided along the way by experienced teachers and practitioners. The relationships fostered in my time here are still a huge part of my practice and will stay with me for years to come."
Rowan Pierce, Graduate 2009
- Sound and Spatial Designer
Toi Whakaari - New Zealand Drama School is a treasure, producing independent creative thinkers for the stage and screen industries. Teamwork, independent thought, understanding the creative processes, and craft are at the forefront of what a Toi education provides. It is for good reasons that graduates occupy many leading roles within the industry. The design course is right up there - equipping graduates with the skillsets, and approach to engage with the most challenging projects,and triumph.
Simon Bennett - Graduate 1988
Director & Executive Producer
Emma is the Academic Coordinator for the Bachelor of Design (Stage and Screen)degree. She works alongside the Head of Department to support the Design team and the on-going development of the degree programme. She also provides pastoral care and academic support for the Design students. Emma has worked at Te Kura Toi Whakaari O Aotearoa for eight years and her career as an artist spans 15years-highlights include: First Class Honors Bachelor of Performance Design(Hons); international recognition by being awarded Best Costume Design in the world by the prestigious institution The Prague Quadrennial; research protects exhibited internationally; leading the Design department (2017-2020); costume designing productions Hui by Mitch Tawhi Thomas and Pohutu created by Bianca Hyslop and Rowan Pierce.
Emma is passionate about arts education and fostering strong relationships with the students and the next generation of performance designers.
Sam Trubridge has a PhD in Creative Practice from Massey University College of Creative Arts. His research specialisation is in performance design, performance art, and scenography - looking at these fields through the lens of a fluid practice that moves through various processes of curation, scholarship, design, and direction. In this way he has created performance art and theatre works for venues and events in Oceania Europe and the Americas, including The Restaurant of Many Orders (UK, NZ, Italy) SLEEP/WAKE (NZ,USA) with sleep scientist Philippa Gander, and Ecology in Fifths (NZ). He is associate editor (Oceania) for World Scenography a survey of performance design from 1975-2015. He has lectured in Performance Design and Spatial Design at Massey University (NZ) and programmed Massey’s Print Factory Performance Laboratory. He currently directs The Performance Arcade on Wellington Waterfront. He has curated other events such as the Waking art/science incubator, Deep Anatomy with freedivers and artists (The Bahamas, NZ), The Stage Space at Wellington Airport in 2011, and NZ New Performance Festival at La MaMa Theatre in New York 2015. In 2021 he initiated a bold new project called WHAT IF THE CITY WAS A THEATRE? involving the Wellington performing arts community working to create a festival of live art and performance across city spaces.
Born London UK,
New Zealand citizen since 1968
Since 1995, Helen Todd has been Light and Technical Director for Lemi Ponifasio and MAU. After studying music and following her own practice in visual art, Helen started to work with light in 1986. Her independent work in the exploration of light in performance has placed her work at the forefront of performance research and often outside current theatre practice. Her work with Ponifasio and MAU is presented at notable venues and festivals worldwide including the Venice Biennale, Avignon Festival, BAM New York, Ruhrtriennale Germany, Lincoln Center New York, Edinburgh International Festival, Theatre de la Ville Paris, Onassis Cultural Centre Athens, London’s Southbank, Holland Festival, Luminato Festival Toronto, Vienna Festival, Berliner Festspiele, the New Zealand Festival, and with MAU Mapuche in Chile, with MAU Wāhine on marae through New Zealand, and in Samoa, New Caledonia and French Polynesia.
Her work was nominated for a Bessie Award, USA 2014, and for the Dora Mavor Moore Award, Canada 2016.
Dr Sean Coyle is a performance designer, photographer, artist and educator. He originally trained at Toi Whakaari (Technical Production) and has since completed a Graduate Diploma in Dramatic Arts Design from VCA (University of Melbourne), an M.A (Art and Design) from Auckland University of Technology and a PhD from the School of Creative Arts - University of Tasmania.
He was previously Head of School at the Pacific Institute of Performing Arts (PIPA) in Auckland for 12 years and was a lecturer in Theatre at Victoria University of Wellington from 2018 to 2021.
He has been a designer for theatre and television throughout New Zealand and Australia for nearly 30 years and is currently developing his art practice which moves between scenography, photography and performance.