On 22 November 2016, Rae Smith gave the annual Jocelyn Herbert Lecture at the National Theatre. She projected images of her theatre drawings, discussing the different purposes they have. Some drawings record visual research; some are made in the studio and brought in to discuss with the rest of the creative team; others are made in rehearsals. Drawings can be used to think through technical problems, as with the sketches of the many gory deaths called for by Improbable’s Theatre of Blood at the National Theatre. Drawing can even be a way of ‘digesting’ a show once it’s over, as with a series of drawings made after the end of the first phase of War Horse. Rae Smith writes:
I use drawing as a tool for design in the theatre, as a method of communication, to record, to express imagination, to think about a show in retrospect or to draw something I can’t remember.
Drawings may occur within the process of making work: in research and development, workshops; the storyboards and costume drafts of the design process; in showing and presenting the designs, during rehearsals and throughout the tech and previews.
A gallery of images can be found at raesmith.co.uk
National Theatre Archivist Erin Lee writes about the lecture here.