Raymond Boyce
Raymond Boyce in his Wellington Studio. Image by Matt Grace

Raymond Boyce’s † Biography

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 attended Dame Alice Owen School in Islington, but was evacuated at the age of 11 during the London Blitz, returning for his final year of school. School productions and a dedicated staff nurtured Raymond's talent for art and passion for the theatre.

After serving in the Army for two years, Raymond attended the Slade School of Fine Arts with an Army scholarship. At Slade, he learned the Russian method of scene painting from Head of Theatre Design Vladimir Polunin, who had painted scenery for Sergi Diaghilev. While studying he also worked for John Wright Marionette Theatre as a puppeteer and designed for the University College Drama Society in London. Raymond did a post-graduate course at the Old Vic under Michel St Denis. In 1951 he was appointed as Resident Designer at Dundee Repertory Company where he stayed for two years. Upon his return to London he was invited by Richard Campion to come to New Zealand to join the New Zealand Players. He arrived in Wellington in 1953 and remained with the Company until 1957 having designed The Young Elizabeth, Ring Around the Moon, Ned Kelly and other productions.

A trip back to England convinced him that he wanted to stay in New Zealand and he began working with Donald Munro's (2005 Icon) newly formed Opera Company and Paul Gnatt's Ballet Company. At a time when there was little or no money in theatre design, Raymond and his wife Geraldine formed a puppet company that toured throughout New Zealand. He also travelled to Australia to design and direct for the Australian Opera Company. In 1968 Raymond was appointed to the Design Committee for Expo 70 in Japan, and about this time Harry Seresin asked Raymond to join the Downstage Committee. He was appointed design consultant to the architects of the new Hannah Playhouse. He became resident designer there and in his many years at Downstage, designed over 100 productions, including Big and Little, Summit Conference, Bingo and Tartuffe. Upon leaving Downstage, Raymond designed for the Wellington City Opera productions of Rigoletto and The Pearl Fishers. He continued to design for the New Zealand Ballet into the 1990s.

Raymond's guidance and influence has been far reaching. He has tutored and mentored at New Zealand Theatre Federation Schools, Wellington Polytechnic, Victoria University and Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School.

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 Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the Queens Birthday Honours list and in 1990 was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Literature from Victoria University. Raymond is Fellow and Elected Artist of the Academy of Fine Arts. Fellowship of the Academy is conferred on recipients of the Governor General Art Award which was presented to Raymond in 1993.

Raymond Boyce 1928 - 2019

Milestones & Awards