Welcome to Theatre Studies

Theatre has been practiced by many cultures for thousands of years and it remains at the heart of much artistic expression today, searching for new ways of creating meaningful relationships between actor and spectator as well as re-presenting the work and words of the past. In Aotearoa New Zealand there are examples of many forms of theatrical performance, both established and traditional, and also new and experimental.

Dance is integral in understanding the history and current life of many cultures, and offers a context for embodied learning about ourselves, how we relate to and communicate with others, and about the world. Dance is experienced in many forms throughout Aotearoa in social, ritual, traditional and contemporary artistic contexts.

The live encounter at the centre of a performance makes theatre and dance unique, perhaps more so in a time when film, television and social media are so enhanced by technological advances, and it is this uniqueness which shapes the nature of Theatre Studies and Dance at the University of Waikato. The Programme has established the study of performance as its primary objective in both teaching and research.

The staff of the Theatre Studies and Dance Programme are highly qualified and contain a broad spectrum of professional, artistic practice. Their research interests include performance-as-research, contemporary performance theory, directing, choreographing, site dance, somatic practices and movement for wellbeing, the art of the actor, and theatre anthropology.

The programme of study uses a theory-through-practice approach to teaching and learning, to enable students to gain an informed understanding of theatre and dance. A major in Theatre Studies is a rich and challenging pathway to an undergraduate Arts degree which can have a wide range of vocational applications. A minor in Dance offers a specific focus for students to extend embodied knowledge to apply in a range of potential careers. Many papers offer the opportunity for a focused practical study of performance, while others incorporate analytical approaches to the theories which have informed practice over the centuries, including the work and ideas of contemporary practitioners in New Zealand and in other countries and cultures. A number of papers have public performance seasons as their principal outcomes and the study process is closely linked to the process of page-to-stage or idea-to-stage which creates the performance. Other papers include practical demonstrations and weekend-long workshops which explore the many styles and forms of theatre and dance.

Opportunity for graduate and post-graduate study in the field of Theatre Studies and Dance are also available and these programmes are currently being expanded by including papers related to contemporary performance theory and practice.

The practical tutorials, seminars and rehearsals which lie at the centre of most of the teaching and learning take place in a theatre laboratory space, The New Place Theatre / Te Tapere Hou, and/or in The Playhouse Theatre at the Academy of Performing Arts, which is also the principal venue for public performances. Dance classes, seminars and rehearsals take place in the purpose-built Dance Studio, with performances also in the The Playhouse Theatre in the Academy of Performing Arts.

Theatre on Campus

Theatre clubs and sport opportunities

Dance on Campus

There are other opportunities to be involved in dance on campus, in addition to enrolling in dance papers.


Campus theatre facilities available for teaching and performance.

Booking New Place Theatre/Te Tapere Hou

This space is sometimes available to non-revenue community groups, use our online form to request a booking.