Step into the light.
Theatre explores and represents human experience and imagination in a dynamic, immediate and relevant way. Theatre Studies helps unlock such skills as self-confidence, teamwork, communication and creative expression, as well as giving you the chance to reflect on and inhabit lives vastly different from your own.
Drawing on the rich diversity of theatrical expression across time and cultures, Theatre Studies at Otago offers an exciting, stimulating combination of practical skills and academic training, preparing you to present yourself across a wide variety of careers both within and far beyond theatre and the performing arts.
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Why study Theatre Studies at Otago?
Theatre Studies is a subject that is easy to become passionate about. It provides an understanding of the nature of performance, allows you access to the tools of a theatre-maker, and looks at performance using critical and analytical skills.
You’ll study different times and cultures from a theatre perspective, ranging from Shakespeare to performance art and all points in-between. Practice and analytical investigation inform and support one another.
Your lecturers have professional as well as academic expertise in the fields of acting, producing, directing, criticism, stage design, lighting and sound design, playwriting and translation. And then there is our unique weekly Lunchtime Theatre programme at Allen Hall, which is your testing ground as a performer, director or playwright, and in all aspects of stagecraft.
Otago offers a wide selection of papers in Theatre Studies, drawn from the following areas:
- Performance skills: improvisation; principles of actor training, including Shakespeare, voice and movement
- Analysis and interpretation of drama on stage and screen
- Bicultural theatre; drama and theatre of Aotearoa/New Zealand, the Pacific and Australia
- Theatre history, contemporary drama and performance art
- Performance analysis and critical theory
- Theatre technology and design, especially lighting and stage design
- Playwriting and the creation of new theatre works
All students are welcome to enrol in Theatre Studies at Otago. A background in theatre is not necessary.
Major or Minor in Theatre Studies
Theatre Studies is available as both a major and a minor subject of the Bachelor of Arts (BA) programme. Theatre Studies may be combined with another BA major or form part of a double degree e.g. with Law, Commerce or Science degrees.
The major comprises 10 papers from within Theatre Studies, plus an additional 10 papers either from within the programme and/or from other departments. The minor comprises a total of 5 papers from Theatre Studies.
Information for first-year students
As a first-year student, you can enrol in Drama on Stage and Screen, Improvisation, Theatre Technology, and Voice and Movement, all of which provide an excellent grounding for higher-level papers.
Honours and postgraduate study
Theatre Studies offers a 4th-year Honours programme for which the entry is a B plus average at 300-level in Theatre Studies. An Honours degree makes you more employable in the workforce, and it may also be a stepping-stone to a higher degree such as a Master of Arts (MA), a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) (Theatre Studies), or a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). These degrees may all include a significant creative component.
Classes variously involve lectures, tutorials, seminars and practical workshops. Most classes are relatively small, and students have many opportunities to pursue independent projects in groups and individually.
Theatre Studies graduates work as actors, directors, publicists, script-writers, TV/radio journalists, film-makers, comedians, designers, teachers, musicians and theatre technicians. Others take up careers in arts administration, advertising and marketing, or undertake further training in theatre-related fields.
Some choose to combine Theatre Studies with another subject (e.g. English, Music, Dance, Anthropology, Film & Media, Psychology, Māori Studies and many more) or with another degree, such as Law, Marketing or Education.
Theatre papers teach personal and professional skills which are widely applicable across a range of careers and disciplines. They include critical analysis, research, creativity, confidence, team-building techniques and the ability to communicate in diverse ways. These attributes are highly valued in many professions, as are cultural sensitivity and the ability to think laterally and independently. They are skills for a career, and skills for life-long learning.
Explore your study options further. Refer to enrolment information found on the following qualification pages.
- Bachelor of Arts (BA)
- Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom)
- Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc)
- Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA(Hons))
- Diploma for Graduates (DipGrad)
- Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts)
- Master of Arts (Coursework) (MA(Coursework))
- Master of Arts (Thesis) (MA(Thesis))
- Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
- Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Theatre Studies
Bachelor of Arts (BA) majoring in Theatre Studies
THEA 122 Drama on Stage and Screen
THEA 151 Improvisation
THEA 152 Theatre Technology
Note: THEA 152 should normally be taken in the first or second year of the programme.
THEA 221 Theatre: Ancient to Contemporary
Two further 200-level THEA papers
Four 300-level THEA papers
180 further points; must include 54 points at 200-level or above.
Up to 90 points may be taken from outside Arts
Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA(Hons)) in Theatre Studies
An approved paper at 400-level or above may be substituted for one 20-point THEA paper
Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts) in Theatre Studies
The Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts) programme in Theatre Studies is the same as the programme for the degree of Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA(Hons)).
Master of Arts (Coursework) (MA(Coursework)) in Theatre Studies
Master of Arts (Thesis) (MA(Thesis)) in Theatre Studies
Note: Students who have not completed a Bachelor of Arts (BA(Hons)) in Theatre Studies or a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts) in Theatre Studies must complete the required papers for the BA(Hons) in Theatre Studies prior to undertaking the thesis.
Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Theatre Studies
Minor subject requirements
Theatre Studies as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BTheol, BSc, BAppSc, BCom, BHealSc, BACom, BASc or BComSc degree
Available as a minor subject for a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Music (MusB), Bachelor of Theology (BTheol), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Health Science (BHealSc), Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom), Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) or Bachelor of Commerce and Science (BComSc) degree
THEA 122 Drama on Stage and Screen
One further 100-level THEA paper
|200-level||Two 200-level THEA papers|| |
|300-level||One 300-level THEA paper|| |
Note: This minor subject is not available for students enrolled in the Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA).
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a selection of on-campus papers will be made available via distance and online learning for eligible students.
Find out which papers are available and how to apply on our COVID-19 website
|Paper code||Year||Title||Points||Teaching period|
|THEA122||2023||Drama on Stage and Screen||18 points||Semester 2|
|THEA151||2023||Improvisation||18 points||Semester 1|
|THEA152||2023||Theatre Technology||18 points||Semester 1, Semester 2|
|THEA153||2023||Voice and Movement||18 points||Semester 2|
|THEA221||2023||Theatre: Ancient to Contemporary||18 points||Semester 1|
|THEA241||2023||Writing for Stage and Screen||18 points||Semester 2|
|THEA251||2023||Aspects of Physical Theatre||18 points||Not offered in 2023|
|THEA252||2023||The Actor||18 points||Semester 2|
|THEA253||2023||Theatre, Culture and Identity in Aotearoa||18 points||Not offered in 2023|
|THEA256||2023||Design for Theatre and Performance||18 points||Not offered in 2023|
|THEA257||2023||Special Topic||18 points||Not offered in 2023|
|THEA322||2023||Theatre of Australasia||18 points||Not offered in 2023|
|THEA323||2023||Performance Research||18 points||Semester 1|
|THEA324||2023||Aspects of Modern Drama and Theatre||18 points||Not offered in 2023|
|THEA325||2023||Radical Theatre in Context, 1880-2000||18 points||Not offered in 2023|
|THEA341||2023||Advanced Writing for the Stage and Screen||18 points||Semester 2|
|THEA351||2023||Performing Shakespeare||18 points||Semester 1|
|THEA352||2023||Directing||18 points||Semester 2|
|THEA353||2023||Theatre, Culture and Identity in Aotearoa||18 points||Not offered in 2023|
|THEA354||2023||Creating Theatre||18 points||Not offered in 2023|
|THEA356||2023||Design for Theatre and Performance||18 points||Not offered in 2023|
|THEA357||2023||Special Topic||18 points||Not offered in 2023|
|THEA421||2023||Special Topic||20 points||Not offered in 2023|
|THEA422||2023||Theatre of Australasia||20 points||Not offered in 2023|
|THEA423||2023||Performance Research||20 points||Semester 1|
|THEA424||2023||Aspects of Modern Drama and Theatre||20 points||Not offered in 2023|
|THEA425||2023||Radical Theatre in Context, 1880-2000||20 points||Not offered in 2023|
|THEA441||2023||Advanced Writing for the Stage and Screen||20 points||Semester 2|
|THEA451||2023||Advanced Directing||40 points||Full Year|
|THEA452||2023||Advanced Production Project||20 points||Not offered in 2023|
|THEA453||2023||Directed Project in Theatre||20 points||Semester 1, Semester 2, Full Year|
|THEA454||2023||Special Topic||20 points||Full Year|
|THEA455||2023||Shakespeare Text to Performance||20 points||Not offered in 2023|
|THEA456||2023||Trauma and Violence in Performance||20 points||Semester 1|
|THEA457||2023||The Working Dramaturg||20 points||Not offered in 2023|
|THEA480||2023||Research Project||20 points||Semester 1, Semester 2, Full Year|
|THEA490||2023||Dissertation||40 points||Full Year|
|THEA580||2023||Studio Project in Theatre||60 points||Full Year, 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period|
|THEA590||2023||Research Dissertation||60 points||1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period|