Home Group & Afternoon Tasters

If you are placed in a “Home Group” you will be in this class for the bulk of the week but will also be allocated one “Afternoon Taster” (also based on your rankings), which you will attend on Monday and Wednesday afternoons.

Acting Shakespeare

Acting Shakespeare can be a daunting task even for the most experienced of actors; we get so caught up in the text we forget that Shakespeare himself was an actor and wrote for actors, not academics. Shakespeare’s characters are funny, sexy, serious, smart, sassy and above all human. This course will concentrate on combining verse and text analysis with some secret tricks of the trade to bring the stories and the characters to life.

Ken Keys, Founder, and one-time Administrator and Artistic Director of NYDS, is delighted to be invited to teach the Shakespeare class. Shakespeare is his first love, even his obsession! He has taught, and directed, the Bard for 30 years: at Havelock North High School (where his students regularly shone at the Sheilah-Winn Festival); at NYDS; with the Hawkes Bay Youth Theatre; with the Shakespeare Globe Centre, where he was instrumental in setting up the NSSP (National School’s Shakespeare Production) and the YSC (Young Shakespeare Company), who represented NZ at the London Globe. For several years, Ken taught Summer Schools at the London Globe Theatre and he has been guest Shakespeare tutor with the U.S.A. National Theatre Festival and with Toronto’s famous ‘Shakespeare In Action’ Company. He regularly takes workshops around NZ and currently takes great delight in workshopping Shakespeare with the ‘mature’ folks of U3A (University of the Third Age).

Dance for Performance

If dancing is your passion then this is your class! This Home Group is aimed at intermediate level dancers and up, and covers a variety of styles in a professional environment (dancers work off-campus at a local dance studio) led by our world experienced tutor. With a foundation of basic jazz technique, the main focus of the course is on dance performance in the commercial dance industry. Perfect for the trained dancer who is keen to explore dance in the performance sense for musicals, cruise ships, music videos etc. By the end of the week you will have a comprehensive understanding of what the world of commercial dance is all about and an appreciation for the demands of working in it.

If you love to dance but you’re not a dancer in your ‘normal’ life, or you sneak in a dance when nobody’s looking, then this is the perfect Afternoon Taster. Kelsey eases her foot off the pedal and caters to all levels in an environment focused on fun!

Growing up in New Zealand, Kelsey Andrew danced from a very young age and moved to Australia in 2011 to pursue her love of dance, she went on to sign with a Melbourne Agency and begin dancing on various international tours- performing and travelling around the world for 4 years, living in Mexico, America and the Caribbean (just to name a few) during this time.

Kelsey has a passion for choreography, and in between tours she choreographed ‘Seussical the Musical’ for ‘OCPAC Theatre company’ in Melbourne. Seussical did a repeat season for the ‘Melbourne International Comedy Festival’ in 2014. Kelsey also Choreographed the Tauranga stage show of the NZ regional tour of ‘Mamma Mia!’ in 2016, and co- choreographed ‘Rock of Ages’ in 2017 for Tauranga Musical Theatre, 2018 saw her Choreograph ‘Chess The Musical’ for Stage right trust. Kelsey is currently President of Create The Bay, Tap Convenor for Tauranga Performing Arts, working closely with the National Young Performer of the Year and creative director/owner of ‘KJ Studios’ in Tauranga. However, NYDS still remains the highlight of her year and she is so excited to come back for her third year in 2020!

Drag School

Ever dream of donning a frock or tails, glamming up and being faaaaabulous?Open to all guys and gals, who are keen to be more than they are! Extroverts, introverts, rugby players and drama geeks,this class is all about being open to new things; challenging our concepts of gender; collaboration and hard work, all while having a stunning time. The class will cover many aspects of ‘drag’, from the art of creating your alter ego character, including costuming, performance, choreography, attitude, lip synching and styling. You will learn how to mince in heels, strut in suits, rock some feathers and excite an audience. We will also work alongside the Makeup Design class to create some sickening, gag worthy looks for your persona to take to the stage!

Dan Williams began doing drag when he was 19 and can still remember the exhilaration and nerves the first time he took to the stage. He graduated with a degree in Performance Design from Massey Universrty and Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School, which has seen him direct and design sets and costumes for work all over New Zealand and internationally. He has been nominated multiple times at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards, winning the Weta Workshop Set Designer of the Year. Alongside Dan’s design career, he has been working as a Drag Queen for 15 years throughout New Zealand. He has hosted and performed as his Alter Ego ‘Lady Trenyce’ at many LGBTQI events including Wellington ‘Out in the Park’ and Auckland’s ‘Big Gay Out. He is also heavily involved in the Auckland community, working alongside NZAF and Auckland Pride, creating extravagant floats for the past two Pride Parades. Dan worked with youth theatre company Long Cloud in Wellington for 4 years and recently with many young people on Auckland Theatre Company’s youth festival ‘Here and Now’. Having attended NYDS as a student himself, Dan is excited to be back and bringing this dynamic new class to the youth of Aotearoa.

Improv Comedy – Naked & Scriptless

Spontaneity and imagination is where every creative work begins, so why does improvising terrify so many of the industry’s top practitioners? Students will learn to embrace the fear and freedom of acting without a script, how to trust their instincts and find the comedy, tension and game of a scene with their fellow performers. This class will focus on storytelling, characterisation and grounded techniques that can be applied to improvised scenes and beyond.

Will Robertson is an actor, film-maker and writer, whose credits include roles in television’s ‘Girl Vs. Boy’, feature films ‘Fresh Meat’, ‘Atomic Falafel’ and ‘Kiwi’, and short film ‘Space Trash Men’. Will is also a full time writer, story and script editor for ‘Shortland Street’.

Musical Theatre

Musical Theatre is a unique form of theatrical performance which incorporates singing into live theatre. Combining the three disciplines of singing, acting and dancing to communicate with an audience, students in our popular Musical Theatre class will get put through their paces as they come together with kindred spirits to study their craft. In recent years students in our Musical Theatre Class have studied and performed extracts from ‘Spring Awakening’, ‘Little Shop of Horrors’, ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and ‘Dear Evan Hansen’.

Trace Tidd fell in love with Musical Theatre as a child, and has never been far from the stage since, performing in countless shows and concerts around New Zealand. She gained qualifications in Musical Theatre and Acting from Wellington Performing Arts Centre and holds a Diploma in Contemporary Vocals from Excel School of Performing Arts. Trace lives in Whakatane where she owns and runs Stage Door Performing Arts Academy and is a private singing teacher. Trace also works professionally as a performer, vocal director and performance coach. She loves all aspects of the performing arts, but is particularly passionate about coaching young people in the ‘ways’ of Musical Theatre.

Poetry in Performance

Are you harbouring a crush on spoken word? Maybe you write, maybe you want to write, maybe you just get on the youtube – either way, this class will be a safe and creative space for you to express your own stories. With the international spoken word scene expanding like a soufflé, the poetic communities of Aotearoa are going from strength to strength. Using a range of poetic forms, we will reach across communities and between disciplines to find the voices of our young storytellers – voices that are authentic, silly and critical.

Sara Hirsch is a Rānana/London grown poet and spoken word educator now based in Aotearoa. She is a former UK Slam Champion, third ranked in the World Slam Championships 2014, winner of the European Poetry Slam in Madrid 2016 and a 2017 BBC Slam Finalist. Sara has performed at Glastonbury, is a TEDx speaker, has featured on the BBC and toured extensively both in the UK and internationally. Sara holds a Master’s in Creative Writing & Education from Goldsmiths University and is Education Director for Motif Poetry, a new charity committed to bringing poetry into schools and communities across New Zealand and around the world. Sara has had the privilege of working with many alumni from the NYDS poetry course in professional settings across NZ and loves to see how this class is inspiring the next generation of powerful voices.

Intro to Screen Acting – Two Workshops

With the continual development of the film and television industry in NZ, actors have more opportunity to gain work on screen. But what does it take to create compelling performances on screen? What challenges face actors and what techniques will they need to learn? Through classroom exercises we discover what goes into effective on-camera work and enable students to become familiar with the unique processes necessary for the film actor. This intensive course will challenge and inspire you.

Rachael Blampied is a former NYDS student and current member of the NYDS Board. She completed a Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts at Unitec in 2006 and is an experienced screen actress. Rachael’s screen credits include playing the infamous Bree on ‘Shortland Street’ and NZ’s incredible WWII spy Nancy Wake in ‘Nancy Wake: The White Mouse’, also ‘The Kick’, ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’, the webseries ‘Darryl: An Outward Bound Story’ and the TVNZ series ‘Dirty Laundry’. Rachael studied music (voice and piano) for many years and has performed at Coca-Cola Christmas in the Park. She lives in Auckland where works as an actress, voice artist, and a TV and Film Producer – making commercials, music videos and films. She tells bad jokes, loves food, and has two kittens that she cannot pat hard enough.

Will Wallace trained as an actor at the Unitec Performing Arts School. His plethora of credits include roles in television and film, such as ‘Vermilion’; ‘Step Dave’; ‘Shortland Street’; ‘Legend of the Seeker’ and ‘Go Girls’. Also an accomplished film maker and editor, Will runs Fiftyone50 Productions – a successful production company specialising in everything from actor showreels to drama, corporate and documentary films. Amongst all this Will also finds time to teach screen acting at Unitec.

Screen Ninjas

Polish up those screen acting chops you built in last year’s screen classes and challenge yourself in the newest class at NYDS. You’ll work on producing authentic performances by learning to identify the subtle changes within a scene, showing choices being made by your character, internalising emotion and many other screen acting and script techniques. You’ll learn what is expected in an audition, how to take a head shot, and get the chance to hear from professionals the secrets of the industry.

Paolo Rotono is a multidisciplinary artist working as an actor, writer and director in film, TV and theatre. In Paolo’s dramatic training his greatest influences have been Philippe Gauliere, John Bolton and he studied at The Globe in London as the Shakespeare Globe international Fellowship. Paolo has worked on the stages of some of Aotearoa’s most prestigious Theatre Companies, including, Silo, Taki Rua, ATC and Red Leap. On the silver screen Paolo has held leads in New Zealand Feature films including, ‘The Ugly’ (winning a Best Actor award in Rome) and ‘Stickmen’. On the small screen Paolo is best remembered for his role as the clinic CEO on ‘Shortland Street’ among many other roles.

As a Director Paolo has won acclaim for his multi-award-winning, debut feature film ‘Orphans & Kingdoms’. As a Director Paolo loves both the challenges of comedy and drama and prides himself in crafting outstanding performances. Paolo Directs TV Commercials and is represented by Flying Fish Films. In 2020 Paolo will appear in a lead role in the BBC, Elenor Catton screen adaptation of The Luminaries.

Stage Combat

Warm up your battle cry and stretch out those muscles, things are going to get physical. Stage Combat will give you the skills to create dynamic and effective fight scenes while keeping you and your partner safe. We’ll look at techniques used in theatre, television and film and look at how we can physically define different characters and storylines with these and many other skills and techniques.

Allan Henry discovered Stage Combat in 1999, when he was a student at The National Youth Drama School. There he met his eventual teacher and mentor, Tony Wolf. Allan studied under Tony for many years as his apprentice and when Tony moved on to start a new chapter of his life in the US, Allan assumed the mantle of heir-apparent and began teaching workshops and choreographing for professional and educational institutions across New Zealand, yet he looks forward to return to NYDS. He has taught for many years and relishes the chance to provide people with the skills and confidence to use their own natural creativity and personal talents to create safe effective staged violence. He has worked as a movement coach and motion capture performer for movies such as ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’, ‘Ghost in the Shell’, ‘Hunger Games’ and ‘Justice League’, alongside his padawan, Ryan McIntyre.

The Acting Voice

Quite simply the most important class at NYDS, says the Artistic Director. Regardless of your interest or your ultimate vocation, a flexible, strong, expressive voice is essential. This challenging and intense workshop will free your natural voice and give you an armoury of vital techniques to last a life- time. A MUST for serious screen or stage performers, radio and TV presenters and communicators of any kind.

Lisa-Jane Easter trained as an actor in New Zealand before venturing overseas to further her studies in vocal technique (pertaining mostly to the spoken word) with actors. During her time overseas, she worked with renowned vocal tutors including Cecily Berry, and Kristin Linklater with whom she studied extensively. Lisa-Jane was Director of the Performing Arts Drama Diploma at the Eastern Institute of Technology in Hawke’s Bay from 1998 till 2001, and has worked as a vocal coach on films and Television. Formally Director of Performing Arts at Iona College, Lisa-Jane now directs nationally and manages her own Performance Coaching company – One Voice Creative Consulting Limited.

Theatre of Disturbance

Challenge – what we are all about. This collaborative and highly demanding class will teach you to disrupt and challenge your own artistry, and look to expand the audience’s concepts of performance in creative and surprising ways. You will explore the Art of Disturbance by using movement, architecture, the environment, improvisation, devising, and much more – to harness your own ideas and curiosity. This exciting class incorporates techniques of Viewpoints and Frantic Assembly and is perfect for the widest range of disciplines – designers, technicians, directors, dancers, performers, composers and musicians – tapping directly into the individual strengths and knowledge of students to create a multi-layered company. We will challenge you to view, and to create theatre in a very different way.


Already an award-winning director, actor, designer and improviser Patrick Davies started at NYDS teaching Acting Shakespeare (3 years) and then Directing (also 3 years), so it’s time to change it up. He has worked with the Northland, Auckland and Otago Youth Theatres; as well as Circa, Basement, Court, Fortune and Centrepoint Theatres. He began his Master in Theatre Arts (Directing) at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School and Victoria University in 2006 where he began working with Viewpoints and Composition. He has since taught and directed using these tools in New Zealand, Germany, Romania, Serbia, USA and the UK.