NIDA acknowledges the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the lands on which we learn and tell stories, the Bidjigal, Gadigal, Dharawal and Dharug peoples, and we pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present.

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Bob Cousins is NIDA's new Course Leader, Design for Performance

Internationally acclaimed opera, theatre and dance designer Bob Cousins is bringing his design brilliance to NIDA as the newly appointed Course Leader, Design for Performance.  A master at unleashing the power and beauty of live theatre and film design, Cousins is a practising artist who will oversee NIDA’s Bachelor of Fine Art course in Design for Performance.

We caught up with Bob to find out a little more about him.

Was there anything good about 2020?

I spent a lot more time at home and a lot less time in airport security lines. That’s always good.

What do you love about design?

At its best, design – any design – is a form of critical thinking for engaging with our world and articulating our place within it.

What was your favourite film of 2020?

I’m not good with favourites but at the lowest ebb of home schooling on a dark rainy Friday we all just packed it in and sat down and watched Singin’ In the Rain for the 50th time. It never fails.

What is your favourite production of all time?

Some of the shows I have enjoyed the most are those that have challenged my sense of what a performance should and can be. Sometimes this might be a whole production and other times it might just be a moment glimpsed that reveals a raft of possible ways to re-imagine the potential for performance and its design.

How do you take your coffee?

I don’t – tea only.


I’m a theatre and film designer as much by accident as having followed a traditional pathway.  I am hoping that the collective imagination, enthusiasm and energy of the students across the whole school will give me an education that I never had.

His designs have inspired audiencesin  his extensive productions in Hamburg, Zurich, Salzburg, London, New York, Paris, Amsterdam, Bogata, Berlin, Taipai, Dublin, Utrecht, Los Angeles, San Diego, Vienna and Montreal.

Young and emerging design artists at NIDA will benefit from his wealth of experience and creative partnerships with the world’s outstanding ensembles, including designing opera sets for Lear and Médée for Salzburg Festspiele; Der Ring der Nibelungen for Opera Australia and upcoming La Traviata for Opéra National de Paris.

Bob’s theatre designs include sets for Sydney Theatre Company; Belvoir St Theatre, Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne; Toneelgroep/ International Theatre Amsterdam;  Berliner Ensemble and Schauspielhaus Hamburg and Burgtheater Vienna.

In dance and film he has worked with Lucy Guerin Inc Dance Company;  Chunky Move Dance Company and film designs including for CandyRomulus My Father, Balibo and Ruben Guthrie.

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