The Royal New Zealand Ballet mourns the death of Raymond Boyce, a true icon of New Zealand theatre and one who blazed a trail for professional theatre design in Aotearoa.
Raymond’s long association with the RNZB began in the late 1950s, when he created designs for the first New Zealand production of Frederick Ashton’s Façade (1959). Throughout the 1960s his collaborations with Russell Kerr included original ballets such as Kerr’s much-loved Prismatic Variations (1960), alongside stagings of classics such as Napoli, The Sleeping Beauty, Coppélia and the New Zealand Ballet Company’s first full productions of The Nutcracker (1963) and Giselle (1965). In the 1970s, Raymond’s designs for the New Zealand Ballet included La Sylphide (1979) and Swan Lake Act II (1971). In the 1990s and 2000s, his glittering designs for Raymonda delighted dancers and audiences alike.
A landmark in New Zealand theatre design came in 1964 with Kerr’s staging of Petrouchka, after Michel Fokine, with Raymond’s designs after Alexandre Benois bringing the genius of the Ballets Russes to the stage in exquisite detail. Petrouchka has remained in the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s repertoire and was last staged, to great acclaim, in 2011.
There will be a public farewell tribute to Raymond at the Hannah Playhouse on Cambridge Terrace, Wellington, at 2.30pm on Saturday 10 August. At Raymond’s request, in lieu of flowers, donations to the Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand would be greatly appreciated.