Frequently Asked Questions

What are the age requirements?
Why not accept younger applicants?

What can I do to prepare before I am the right age?
What other performing arts course do you recommend?
Do you run any short courses or preparatory courses?
What’s the timeline for applications and auditions?
Will having a degree help me?
What sort of interaction with the industry occurs?

What are the hours?
Why is the School bi-cultural?
Verified academic transcripts: what are they and how do I get them?
I don’t have an email address: does this matter?

Acting Questions

Where do I audition?

How does the audition process work?
Can I bring props and/or music to my audition?
Who will be on the audition panel?

I’m currently overseas and wish to audition by video. Is this possible?
How many people audition and how many are accepted?

What are the age requirements?

Successful applicants for the acting, entertainment technology, management and costume construction courses are required to have turned 18 by the first day of the first term (in 2015, this is Monday 16 February). There is no upper age limit.

Why not accept younger applicants?

The age restriction is necessary because the course is very emotionally and physically challenging. A certain degree of intellectual rigour is also required and over our 45 year history, we have found that these three components are not often found together in those under 18.

Of course, we acknowledge there are younger people there with emotional, intellectual and physical maturity, but our experience has taught us that life experience is of great benefit, therefore we have chosen this age stipulation as the optimum time for a young person to come to our school and undertake this particular training.

We often have a wide age range within each class (for each of the last three years, we have had a student of approx 40 in the incoming group) and we feel that a 20 year range in the ages of the new students is quite a challenge.

What can I do to prepare before I am the ‘right age’?

To prepare for entry to Toi Whakaari, we encourage people to get as much experience as possible, do part time courses, work on other people’s plays and films (check out your local amateur repertory theatre or your school), put on your own plays or make your own films – all of your experience will be useful. Some of our students work to gain some money behind them for their studies. Another option is to do some other courses in the meantime.

What other performing arts course do you recommend?

The performing arts courses that seem to provide many of our current students include: Hagley Community College, Otago University (Allen Hall), Victoria University, TAPAC, UCOL, Young and Hungry, Auckland Theatre Company Education Unit , the National Youth Drama School and Long Cloud Youth Theatre Company. These places all give a really good grounding in drama and particularly in the needs of the ensemble and have a very good ‘Toi Whakaari Success Rate’.

Do you run any short courses or preparatory courses to help prepare?

Toi Whakaari holds short courses in most secondary school holidays, often these courses are technical, costume, design or acting based. Check this out for information on upcoming courses.

What’s the time line for applications and auditions?

Information on the deadline for 2016 applications will be available later this year. You can find out more about the courses we offer here.

Will having a degree help me?

Anyone who’s already studied for a degree has an advantage in that they understand the discipline of study as well as possessing research skills and the maturity that comes with a university background. But… it’s how you present at your audition or interview that counts.  A former director of Toi Whakaari, Annie Ruth, described it as demonstrating “courage and flexibility on the day”.

What sort of interaction with the industry occurs?

Of major significance is the secondment programme, in which our students organise to apprentice themselves with a theatre, film company or drama school either within NZ or overseas. In addition, during your three years as a student, you are given every encouragement to absorb as much local theatre and film as possible, including cheap tickets to most Wellington-based shows. The practitioners from local theatres and film companies have a close working relationship with Toi Whakaari and are often contracted to teach block courses.

An ‘agents’ night’ held annually gives the entertainment industry and our acting graduates a chance to interact.

What are the hours?

Classes and rehearsals are generally scheduled between 8.30am and 5.30pm Monday to Friday, however some classes occur between 8am and 6pm and there is some evening and weekend work required during production times and for special projects. Classes takes precedence over any out of School commitments.

Why is the School bi-cultural?

Te Kura Toi Whakaari o Aotearoa: NZ Drama School acknowledges Te Tiriti o Aotearoa: The Treaty of Waitangi as the foundation document of the country. To honour the Treaty, the School needs to instil an awareness of the culture of Aotearoa New Zealand in its diversity and history while initiating an awareness of the Schools’ responsibility for sharing and furthering Maori culture.

Through the lens of a Treaty Partnership, the School will continue to explore and celebrate the theatre, dance and performing arts of other cultures and races of Aotearoa New Zealand. The diverse origins of immigrants over the last 50 years enriches the intake of students and expands the studies and productions within the Schools.

Verified academic transcripts: what are they and how do I get them?

These are the official documents you will have received from your secondary school, university or the training institution you attended after leaving school. We ask to see them in order to gauge what your interests and areas of achievement have been thus far, but they will not be a deciding factor in whether or not you are accepted into Toi Whakaari. If you no longer have these documents, please contact the relevant institution for duplicate copies. Details on verification are included in the application form.

I don’t have an email address: does this matter?

Yes! This is the main method of communication used by the School from the audition process onwards, so best organise one now. Your email address should include your first name and surname.

Questions About the Acting Course

Where do I audition?

Audition Workshops information for 2016 will be available later in the year. Workshops are usually held during September.

Those who are recalled attend a weekend-long workshop and a further audition at Toi Whakaari, usually in late October.

How does the audition process work?

The audition will consist of a group workshop of around three hours with two Toi Whakaari graduates. A Toi Whakaari tutor will be present for the last hour of the workshop.

Can I bring props and/or music to my audition?

No. We are interested in you and how you react, not in what you can hide behind.

Who will be on the audition panel?

Two Toi Whakaari graduates and a tutor from the Acting Department at Toi Whakaari.

I’m currently overseas and wish to audition by Skype – Is this possible?

Yes, although it is not ideal. Auditionees will select and prepare two short monologues – one classic and one contemporary. They will perform the prepared pieces, be given directions to play their pieces in a variety of different ways and will have a conversation with a Toi Whakaari staff member.

If you are recalled on the basis of your initial Skype audition, you absolutely must be able to come to the recall weekend.

How many people audition and how many are accepted?

We receive around 200 acting applications and everyone gets an audition. We select around 40–60 for the recall weekend and up to 20 for the first year intake.

Find out more about applying to Toi Whakaari