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Theatre Studies

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Why study Theatre Studies?

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.

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
  • Directing
  • 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

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Theatre Studies at Otago

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.

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.

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.

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.

As a first-year student, you can take the papers Drama on Stage and Screen, Improvisation, Theatre Technology, and Voice and Movement, which will provide an excellent grounding for a major in the subject. The long-running Improvisation paper is consistently highly placed by Otago students surveyed for satisfaction with their learning experience.

Honours and Postgraduate Diploma

Students who have completed their BA may choose to do a Bachelor of Arts Honours, or a postgraduate diploma as a fourth year of study.

With either option, you receive advanced training in aspects of the subject and the opportunity to pursue your own research and practical projects. An Honours degree makes you more employable in the workforce, but it may also be a stepping stone to a higher degree such as a Master of Arts (MA), or the new Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Theatre Studies, or a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

See detailed information about Theatre Studies papers.

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Background required

All students are welcome to study Theatre Studies at Otago.

Career opportunities

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.