We caught up with Grace Smart, designer of upcoming show Spring Offensive, to discuss her work.
Grace Smart studied Theatre Performance Design at the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts and graduated in 2014. The following year she won the Linbury Prize for Theatre Design for her work on Saint Joan at The Lyric Belfast. Her recent design credits include Wonderland (UK Tour); Here Lies the Remains of Mercy (Theatre Delicatessen, Sheffield); Shopping & F***ing at the Lyric Hammersmith and Bar Mitzvah Boy at the Gatehouse (all 2016), In 2017, East Is East for The Northern Stage, Nottingham Playhouse and Blasted at Styx, London.
Why Spring Offensive and why now?
Spring Offensive is a play about identity, especially national identity. I think the themes on patriotism are fascinating – how quickly does being proud of ones country become a disdain for others? How willing are people to shoot themselves in the foot to defend their country? What does it mean to cling so tightly to a sense of ‘Britishness’? These questions are obviously hugely resonant right now.
What is your favourite play?
My favourite play is A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams – in fact I’m a big fan of all his work. I recently have also become obsessed with Red by John Logan, it’s about the work of Rothko, and the relationship between the world and artists.
What has been your favourite design job to date and why?
That’s a toughie! So far it probably has to be St Joan for the Lyric Belfast, it was incredible designing a play written during the Easter rising, using such a remarkable female historical figure, in the country George Bernard Shaw lived in. Of course, a close second was doing Shopping and F***ing at the Lyric Hammersmith. Partly because it was such a radical retelling, and partly because it’s a fine play title to tell people you’re working on over and over.
What is the biggest challenge with designing Spring Offensive?
The biggest challenge is building the atmosphere of the room with out building the room. In an ideal world in my mind, we would have one audience member only, every single night. And that audience member would be forced to sit at the table with them, eat the stew, etc etc. I want the whole audience to feel like they’re in the room, that they can’t get out, and that they might have to stay the night too…