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Raymond Boyce


Raymond Boyce

Raymond Boyce in his Wellington Studio. Image by Matt Grace

Raymond Boyce MBE’s † Biography

Last Updated:
28/05/2024, 10:42 am
Theatre Designer
Arts Foundation Icon 2007
Raymond Boyce MBE has been one of New Zealand's most significant designers for theatre and the performing arts, as well as a puppeteer and puppet designer.

Raymond Boyce discovered his passion for art and theatre at Dame Alice Owen School in Islington but was evacuated at the age of 11 during the London Blitz. After serving in the Army for two years, Boyce attended the Slade School of Fine Arts with an Army scholarship. Here, he learned the Russian method of scene painting from Head of Theatre Design, Vladimir Polunin, as well as working for the John Wright Marionette Theatre as a puppeteer. In 1951 he was appointed as Resident Designer at Dundee Repertory Company where he stayed for two years. On his return to London, he was invited by Richard Campion to come to New Zealand to join the New Zealand Players, arriving in Wellington in 1953.

At a time when there was very little money in theatre design, Raymond and his wife Geraldine formed a puppet company which toured throughout New Zealand. In 1968 Boyce was appointed to the Design Committee for Expo 70 in Japan, and about this time, Harry Seresin asked Raymond to join the Downstage Committee. In his many years at Downstage, he designed over 100 productions, including Big and Little, Summit Conference, Bingo and Tartuffe. On leaving Downstage, Boyce designed productions of Rigoletto and The Pearl Fishers for the Wellington City Opera. He continued to design for the New Zealand Ballet into the 1990s.

His guidance and influence have been far-reaching. Boyce is Fellow and Elected Artist of the Academy of Fine Arts. He has tutored and mentored all over New Zealand and, from 1986 - 1991, he was Executive Designer for the Globe Hangings presented to the newly rebuilt Shakespeare's Globe in London. In 1977 Raymond was awarded a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours and in 1990 was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Literature from Victoria University of Wellington.

Raymond Boyce died 1 August 2019

Milestones & Awards