Theatre & performance

ADA students in Esme Timbery Creative Practice Lab

Learn why live performance matters in a media-savvy world 

Explore live performance in all its diversity through theatre and performance studies at UNSW. Be part of stage plays with professional directors, work with a team on collaborative creations, stage an action in public spaces or undertake work as a solo performer. Studying theatre and performance will help you uncover the creativity of performance around us.

Our academics are experts in both theory and practice. You’ll study theatre history, contemporary performance, writing and performing, live arts, multimedia, dance and entertainment. Our courses combine practical experience with intellectual exploration and will prepare you for a career in the creative arts.

Gain practical industry experience  

Our courses are industry-linked. There are opportunities to collaborate with professional artists and gain experience with production companies, venues and publishers such as Australian Theatre for Young People, Bangarra, Belvoir, Carriageworks, Critical Path, Force Majeure, Griffin Theatre, Hayes Theatre, Milkcrate Theatre, PACT Centre for Emerging Artists, Performance Space, Performing Lines, Sydney Dance Company, Sydney Festival, Sydney Opera House, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Theatre Company, Trackdown Studios, and Urban Theatre Projects.

Enjoy access to our modern performance spaces 

The UNSW Creative Practice Lab brings creativity to life with state-of-the-art teaching, studio and workshop spaces. The specialised lab manages the school’s performance venues, rehearsal studios and technical resources, including the brand new Esme Timbery Creative Practice Lab. Students, researchers and artists have the chance to develop new work and participate in several events and performances throughout the year. 

Combine creative practice with a range of interdisciplinary electives  

Studying theatre and performance will open doors to acting on stage and beyond. You’ll learn skills in practical collaboration and in-depth critical analysis, which will support your study across multiple disciplines. With a diverse range of skills, students are prepared for careers in:

  • performance making  
  • producing and directing 
  • scriptwriting 
  • arts management and administration 
  • communications and journalism 
  • reviewing art and theatre 
  • event management and publicity 
  • teaching drama in secondary schools 
  • education and research. 

You’ll also be free to study theatre and performance in combination with other subjects like business, communications, creative writing, English, film studies, history, languages, marketing, media, music, philosophy, sociology and anthropology.

Study with us

  • Studying theatre and performance at UNSW will give you practical experience and opportunities to learn about staging a play, writing for the theatre, collaborative making and solo performance. Beyond theatre-based skills, you’ll have the freedom to acquire knowledge about how performance relates to our multimedia world, politics and activism, popular entertainment and the role it plays in Australian culture in its broadest sense.

  • Honours involves a year of study where you'll undertake courses in research methods and uses of theory, and devise and complete a major research project. Your honours project will focus on the creation of a thesis or combine scholarly research with creative practice under the supervision of academics who are passionate about the development of the next generations of researchers. Recent areas of interest include dramaturgy, experimental performance, choreographic practice, environmental performance, Indigenous contemporary performance, American musical theatre and Australian playwrights.

    Past honours projects include:

    • ‘What Does Female Leadership Look Like in Australia’s Theatre Companies’ – Jo Bradley (2020)
    • ‘Beyond an Anthropocentric Body: Proposals Underlying Body Weather Practice’ – Tess de Quincey (2018)
    • ‘Frizz and Shades: The Performativity of Racial Ambivalence Online, On Stage, and In Life’ (2018)
    • ‘Stand-Up Comedy: Masculinity, and Performative Subversions’ – Sophie Strykowski (2018)
    • ‘Miss Aussie’s All Aussie Adventures: Performances of Australian Nationalism’ – Kate Bobis (2017)
    • ‘What Could Go Wrong?: Politics, Ethics, and Participation in They Call It Nutbush’ – Alicia Dulnuan-Demou (2017)
    • ‘Sites of (Con)tension: High-Vis activism in Mandatory / Monument’ – Naomi Hamer (2017)
    • ‘Hinemihi: Voices Across Time and Place’ – Victoria Hunt (2017)
    • ‘Theatre and Crime: An Investigation into the Ability of Documentary Theatre to Provide New Understandings about Criminal Event’ – Patrice Rielly (2017)
    • ‘Realist Restraint in Il trittico’s Original Production Concept: Harnessing the Relative Autonomy of Embodied Performance and Stage Design’ – James Whiting (2017)
  • With postgraduate research, you’ll investigate a significant problem within theatre, performance and dance and write a full-length thesis or produce practice-based research combining a portfolio with a dissertation. Our higher degree research students focus on contemporary theatre, including the creative process, live arts, dance and media-enhanced performance.

    Current masters and PhD projects include:

    • ‘Australian Musical Theatre in the 21st Century’ – Mara Davis
    • ‘Theatre in Refugee Camps: In Search of Sustainable and Ethical Practice’ – Anita Hallewas
    • ‘The Health Benefits of Acting Classes for Young Women Refugees’ – Ruth Horsfall
    • ‘Performative Personas in Video Game Livestreaming: An Ethnographic Study of Twitch’ – Nathan Jackson
    • ‘Towards a Poetics of Mourning in New tragic postdramatic performance on Western stages’ – Hannah Ray
    • ‘Is This Work Yours or Mine; Uncovering Twenty first Century dancer agency’ – Lisa Synnott
    • ‘Legacies of Migration: Re-Performing Latin American Diaspora in Australia after Tampa’ – Alex Talamo
    • ‘Sensation versus Sensationalism: Modest Acts of Resistance in Contemporary Choreographic Practice’ – Lizzie Thomson
    • ‘The Politics and Aesthetics of Performative Interrogations into Australian Colonial and National Discourses as a Non-Indigenous Australian Artist’ – Mitchell Whitehead