Team

Kapa

Operations Team

Tanea Heke

Tumuaki / Director

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Tanea Heke

Te rohe o Taiamai,

Te Tai Tokerau

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Tanea graduated from Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School in 1997.

She has appeared in a number of theatre and film productions over the years: her favourite roles include “Charm” in Briar Grace Smith’s film Waru, “Council Worker” in TV series Wellington Paranormal and "Mistress Motel" in her Toi Whakaari graduation production of Insurrection. Her latest film appearance is as "Older Mata" in the adaption of Patricia Grace’s book, Cousins.

Tanea is producer of Hāpai Productions, a company she and Nancy Brunning set up in 2013. She is currently mentor for the Māori Arts Interns Programme run by Toi Māori and a Board member on Track Zero (bringing art and science together to inspire transformative climate action).

Tanea was the 2020 recipient of the Creative New Zealand Ngā Tohu Hautūtanga Auaha Toi Making a Difference Award.

Colin Edson

Facilities & Resources Coordinator

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Colin Edson

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Craig Atkins

Kairēhita / Registrar

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Craig Atkins

Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland & Whakatū / Nelson,

New Zealand

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Craig has worked at Toi Whakaari since 2012, when he returned to New Zealand after living in Europe for almost 20 years. His work and educational history has always been linked to the Arts, Education, and Communication (particularly the medium of language). He has an Honours degree in Russian and Bulgarian (don’t ask, someone’s got to do it) from the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at UCL, London. He also worked at the Theatre Royal in the Haymarket, and the Strand Theatre, Aldwych, in London.

Craig spent three years on the Isle of Skye, in Scotland, learning to speak Gàidhlig (as his partner’s family are Gaelic speakers from the Western Isles) and also working at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig – Scotland’s Gaelic College. He also lived on the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides for a number of years, working in an Lanntair Arts Centre in Stornoway, the biggest town in Nah-Eileanan an Iar (the Western Isles).

Fe'ao Katoa

Operations Manager & Co-Producer

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Fe'ao Katoa

Tonga

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Joanne Wakeham

Account Support

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Joanne Wakeham

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Nitika Erueti-Satish

Outreach & Student Services

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Nitika Erueti-Satish

Te Whanganui-a-Tara me Te Matau-a-Māui

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Graduating from Te Kūnenga ki Pūrehuroa (Massey University) in 2016, Nitika has been working within the tertiary sector as a student recruitment and student services advisor. While at university Nitika sat on the Massey University Governance Board as the Māori student representative. She also co-founded and was the first President of Kōkiri Ngātahi; the Māori student association for the Wellington Campus. She has an impressive background in sales and retail management and has a knack for creating innovative systems to achieve company KPI’s.

With Nitika’s creative eye and her mātauranga Māori she encompasses a wealth of knowledge that adds to the essence of the school culture here at Toi Whakaari. Nitika enjoys fluid painting and is also a recording artist under the name “Miss. Tika” - you can find her music on all music platforms.

Sally Keogh

Human Resources

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Sally Keogh

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Stacey Fraser-Allen

Executive Assistant to Director

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Stacey Fraser-Allen

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Tamara Aluwihare

Finance Manager

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Tamara Aluwihare

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Engagement

Anne-Louise Wirth

Marketing & Communications Manager

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Anne-Louise Wirth

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Anne-Louise Wirth has had a diverse career in theatre, marketing and government. Most recently Anne-Louise was the Marketing Manager at Riverside Theatres in Sydney and the Public Affairs Manager at the Australian High Commission in Wellington.

Growing up in Australia, she completed her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre & Film and English at UNSW. She was a stage-manager working regularly in many Sydney venues particularly at the Belvoir St downstairs theatre. After moving to Wellington, Anne-Louise worked in events and then in government at New Zealand Major Events and also in the International team at Creative New Zealand. She completed her Master of Business Administration at Victoria University. 

Anne-Louise joins Toi Whakaari having returned to Aotearoa after five years of living in Seoul, South Korea.

Library

Lisa Hampl

Librarian

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Lisa Hampl

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Acting

Heather Timms

Director of Actor Training

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Heather Timms

Freemantle,

Australia

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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. 

Tupe Lualua

Movement & Creative Practice Tutor

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Tupe Lualua

Sāvaia Lefaga, Luatuānu'u,

Sāmoa nō Porirua tōku Kainga

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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. 

Anya Tate-Manning

Craft & Creative Practice Tutor

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Anya Tate-Manning

Ōtepoti,

New Zealand

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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.

Mitch Tawhi Thomas

Senior Tutor, Voice & Industry Practice

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Mitch Tawhi Thomas

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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 Slinn

Senior Tutor, Screen & Creative Practice

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Vaughan Slinn

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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.

ARTS MANAGEMENT

Dr Sean Coyle

Head of Department Design & Performing Arts Management

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Dr Sean Coyle

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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. 

Grace Ahipene Hoet

Arts Management Tutor & Producer

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Grace Ahipene Hoet

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Grace has had a 30 year career in the arts both locally and internationally. She has worked as a Producer, Arts Advisor, Actor, Director, and Teacher of performing arts, she is along-time practitioner of Maori theatre and Film.

Flip the coin and we have a different world where Grace has worked for her various hapu and community. From negotiating to legal support of Treaty Settlements to developing Rangatahi and Community programmes working with youth at risk,creating reintegration programmes and facilitating mediations. Grace is adescendant of Ngati Kuri Te Aupouri, Ngati Manawa Te Rarawa, Ngati Hau NgaPuhi, Te Arawa whanui, Ngati Hikairo Ngati Tuwharetoa, Ngati Hauiti, NgatiHinemanu me Ngati Paki Ngati Kahungunu and Raukawa ki te Tonga descent. She hasworked for the majority of her iwi, and has represented in whanau and hapu on several different levels.Grace is currently the elected member for Aotea waka on the NZ Maori Council,having previously represented Waikato.

Raised in the Hokianga, she attended high school in Christchurch, she studied microbiology then she discovered the arts and moved from the MAF Laboratory at Lincoln to the Great Hall and Court Theatre of Christchurch.

In 1993 prior to drama school, she debuted as an actress at the Court Theatre in the musical Big River then she went on to perform the Pohutukawa Tree and Electra of Euripdes for Hagley Theatre Company that year she went on to won the Canterbury Art & Cultural Award presented by Lianne Dalziell.

Since graduating from Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School in 1995 she has performed in many different productions from original cast member of Waioraby Hone Kouka touring international. To performing in Nga Pou Wahine by Briar Grace Smith at Centrepoint theatre, and Auckland Arts Festival in ATC Songmaker’s Chair by Albert Wendt down to acting at Circa Theatre in All Our Sons by Witi Ihimaera to name a few. She was fortunate to be taught by Wi Kuki Ka, Keri Kaa and Puoho Katene.

Taki Rua saw her directing one of the last productions in the Alfred Street Depot Theatre. She went on to Direct experimental theatre for BATS Stab Season.

In the early 2000’s Grace won Best Actress at the Chapman Tripp Awards for Take me Home Mr, by BillWalker. She appeared as core cast in the TV series Seven periods of Mr Gormsby Tom Scott & Danny Mulheron she loved working with the late great David McPhail.

She produced the acclaimed Māori Troilus and Cressida, which was performed at the Globe Theatre in London representing NZ at the 2012 Cultural Olympics to Producing and Acting in Taki Rua’s 2015 Chapman Tripps Production of the Year All Our Sons.

2019 March she gave away her Iwi General Manager role to return to NZ Drama School as Bachelor of Performing Arts Tutor, Toi Whakaari where she current works and calls home.

 

Ashley Mardon

Arts Management Tutor & Stage Management Mentor

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Ashley Mardon

Tāmaki Makaurau,

New Zealand

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Ashley graduated from Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School in 2017 with a Bachelor of Performing Arts Management.

Upon graduating she went on to work for the Wellington City Council as one of the Site Managers for their annual Gardens Magic event of which she has co-led for the last four years. Following this she has worked for Auckland Theatre Company, NZ Dance Company, Silo Theatre, Capital E: National Theatre for Children, NZ Arts Festival and World of Wearable Arts.

When Ashley is not stage managing, she freelances as a lighting and staging technician.

“My 'Stage Management Mantra' is to be a multi tool stage manager. I believe in working in other areas of the performing arts so that I have a better understanding of how a stage manager can work more closely with other departments.”

Natasha James

Arts Management Tutor

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Natasha James

North Canterbury,

New Zealand

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Natasha has had a 20 year career working in the Arts in both New Zealand and Australia.  She has Production Managed for many independent theatre companies and Festivals since graduating from Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School in 2000.

In 2008 she moved to Australia to work for Performing Lines as a touring production manager and lighting technician.  During her time there she successfully toured shows nationally and internationally for various independent art companies.  Works include 18 week tour of Ilbijerri Theatre Company Jack Charles V The Crown, Marrugeku’s American 2012 tour of Buru and their Melbourne debut of Gudirr Gudirr, Shaun Parker and Dancers 2011 UK tour of Happy as Larry, Splinter Group’s 2010 Roadkill tour to Venice Dance Biennale and Facyl Festival, Salamanca, Spain, 2009 tours to the UK, Seattle, Germany, Israel, Canada and Australia of Tanja Liedtke’s dance works Twelfth Floor and construct.

Since returning to Aotearoa she has Production Managed for New Zealand Arts Festival, Technical Manager of Hawkes Bay Arts Festival, Kia Mau Festival, CubaDupa and World of Wearable Arts, along with companies Barbarian Productions and Tawata and is a founding member of Muscle Mouth.

COSTUME Construction

Kaarin Slevin

Head of Academics & Costume Construction

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Kaarin Slevin

Australia

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After completing a BA in Communications-Theatre/Media at Charles Sturt University in Australia, Kaarin embarked on a freelance career as a costumier which saw her working across Australia for resident theatre companies, big-budget musicals (including Beauty and the Beast and Sunset Boulevard) and small project-based groups. In 1997 Kaarin accepted a full-time position with Opera Australia, where she had the opportunity to collaborate with local and international designers, creating costumes for the vast repertoire of Australia’s national opera company.

In 2005 she moved to New Zealand and set up the Diploma of Costume Construction at Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School which recently celebrated its 15th year of graduating students. Kaarin continues to practice her profession and has been involved in creating costumes for Weta Workshop, Capital E: National Theatre for Children, Amici Trust and The Hobbit trilogy.

Leimomi Oakes

Senior Tutor, Costume Construction

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Leimomi Oakes

Hawaii,

USA

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Leimomi is a Hawaiian-born costumer and fashion and textile historian, with a BA (with Honours) from Mills College, in California, USA. After moving to New Zealand in 2006 she worked for the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa as Acquisitions and Loans Officer, and then as a Curatorial Assistant. Following this she did a wide range of freelance work in the costume and museum world, and taught in the textile department at the College of Creative Arts at Massey University.  

Leimomi's practice is focused on historical costuming, and on understanding history, as well as modern construction methods, through recreating historical techniques. Her recent research has centred on fashion and social history from 1900-1925, but she has created costumes from across history, from 17th & 18th century fashions in collaboration with Radio NZ, to reproducing dresses from Impressionist paintings. She is known for authoring the popular fashion & textile history blog thedreamstress.com, as well as designing a pattern line, Scroop Patterns, which includes both historical and modern garments.

DESIGN for Stage & Screen

Dr Sean Coyle

Head of Department Design & Performing Arts Management

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Dr Sean Coyle

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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. 

Emma Ransley

Academic Coordinator

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Emma Ransley

Te Whanganui-a-Tara,

New Zealand

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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. 

Helen Todd

Design Tutor

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Helen Todd

Born London UK,

New Zealand citizen since 1968

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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 Sam Trubridge

Senior Tutor, Design

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Dr Sam Trubridge

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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.

SET & PROPS Construction

Francis Gallop

Head of Set & Props Construction

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Francis Gallop

UK

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Francis’s career spans many media and production roles working predominantly in theatre but also for film and television. Until 2017 he was based in Edinburgh and as a designer he has worked for most of the major producing theatres in Scotland, as well as major companies in London, Birmingham and Bristol. His primary interests in live theatre are site specific work and new writing. Francis has also designed large scale public and corporate events for major clients like England’s National Trust.

As a set and props fabricator, he often constructed his own designs, whilst also working for other media and commercial clients. As a scenic artist he painted international touring shows for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre, as well as film work at Pinewood, Elstree and Shepperton film studios.

His parallel career in higher education has included running the MA in Stage and Screen Practice at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh and establishing Scotland’s only independent school for stage design, Scenehouse. He is passionate about enabling fellow learners to explore the techniques, tools and practices of creativity and helping them make great work.

Jason Parlour

Set & Props Tutor

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Jason Parlour

UK

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Jason’s family history is full of engineers and tradespeople, so he was learning to build before learning to walk. 

Graduating in Engineering he ran multiple businesses in the UK for over 15 years, before moving to Wellington to pursue a career with the movie industry. His work has since appeared on big and small screens around the world, from small independent short films, viral videos, big budget movies, theatre shows, museum installations, as well as many independent build and renovation projects.

Focused on high standards of construction and detail, his desire as a tutor is to facilitate learning and help encourage the passion of the students, supporting the adaptability of the wide range of skills needed within the industry.