Design for Stage & Screen


Design for Stage & Screen

Design for Stage & Screen

Kaihoahoa Whakaaturanga

check it now

The Bachelor of Design (Stage & Screen)

The Bachelor of Design (Stage & Screen) is an intensive course that makes the designer a major collaborator in the creation of live and screen production. By challenging traditional ways of working, this innovative course offers an exciting alternative pathway towards the creation of visually extraordinary work for theatre, film, video and live performance. The course emphasises highly practical learning through experimentation and risk-taking.


"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."

Elekis Poblete Teirney, Graduate 2018

Lighting Designer

Course Information

In this degree course you will be guided to challenge conventional boundaries between disciplines through a range of studio-based and collaborative projects. You might be the set or costume designer, audio-visual or lighting designer, live art maker or event designer on these projects. You will gain practical design experience combined with a strong set of transferable skills. Established expert professionals and strategic work placements will expose you to current industry practice and relevant skills.

Year 1: 

Activities include: 

Practical Design Skills I: drawing, model making, and computer-aided design programs, basic filmmaking skills and work in the art department on a music video. 

Conceptual studio-based projects including costume design for film and working from a script to design a live production.

Cross-disciplinary projects that focus on collaboration and developing a critical language for evaluating performance.


Year 2:

During this year, there is increased flexibility to develop your own design practice through industry internships and performance work.

Activities include:

Cross-disciplinary, experimental film-making. 

Internship to professional companies and designers of your choice. 

Practical Design Skills II: advanced drawing, on-set film and live production (including exhibition and event design) experience.

Conceptual studio-based project: film design and site-specific event design.

Develop a proposal for Independent Practice projects in the final year. 


Year 3

During this year you will be mentored through fully realised productions and self-initiated projects.

Activities include:

Lead designer on theatre or film production 

Independent Practice Project 

Professional Practice: Internship, Website/Portfolio and Graduation Exhibition

School year

Feb - Oct


3 years

NZQA Accreditation

Level 7

Domestic fees

2020 was NZ$7202

International fees

2020 was NZ$26,500

Application Process

2022 DESIGN APPLICATIONS WILL OPEN 21 MAY 2021 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):

  • Select two of your most significant achievements to date and explain why you believe they are significant. What have you discovered about yourself from these achievements?
  • What do you hope to gain from your time at Toi Whakaari?
  • Why have you chosen to study Design? Why for stage and screen? Include some reference to how much theatre and screen you see and how you see yourself as a future practitioner in this field.

You are encouraged to share some personal insights and influences that have shaped you.

Portfolio Info:

In the Portfolio section of the Application Form you can either: enter a link to your website/Tumblr/Dropbox or other online portal, or you can email us a ZIP file of images of your work. We are looking for potential and ability in the following areas: drawing; creative innovation; design process; collaboration; visual communication and conceptual thinking. Put together a portfolio which gives us an insight into:

  • your ability to communicate ideas visually
  • your process: the way you work things out; e.g. inspiration, research and working drawings. Include plans/images of the development stage for a project you have done (or dream of doing). We are happy to accept these as an accompanying workbook as well as inside your portfolio.
  • your experience in your own area(s) of interest (screen, costume, set, props, stage, performance art, etc).
  • your passion! This might be a project that you are proud of or that you have initiated.

You are more than welcome to bring hard copies/made items from your portfolio to your interview.

Career Pathways

For nearly 15 years, Toi’s design programme has produced innovative designers of the highest standard who have worked in New Zealand and overseas. Our graduates are leaders in performance-based arts practice and have successfully forged careers in dance, events, film, and stage productions. 

They are well-known in the industry as independent thinkers with strong practical skills. Many of our graduates go on to work as designers in the costume and art departments on independent and large-scale films. Some work in live performance and events as costume, set, lighting and projection designers. Others develop their own practice as artists and continue post-graduate studies.

Career Pathways:

Film: Production designer ● Costume designer ● Set designer ● Props designer ● Art director ● Set dresser ● Art department buyer ● Costume buyer ● Props buyer

Live: Performance designer ● Costume designer ● Set designer ● Props designer ● Lighting designer ● Projection designer

Other: Events designer  ● Director - film, television, music video ● Education and Academia ● Visual or Fine artist

“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,

Massey University

"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