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National reveals the designs behind the show

Published 11 February 2009

Rae Smith, the Laurence Olivier Award-winning set designer of the hit production of War Horse at the National Theatre, is exhibiting the drawings behind her designs at the Southbank venue until 21 March.

The family show, adapted from the novel by Michael Morpurgo, tells the story of young Albert’s journey through World War One as he searches for his beloved horse Joey, who has been shipped off to join the cavalry.

The drawings, displayed in the foyers of the Olivier theatre at the National, give an intimate insight into the artistic process behind Smith’s designs for the production. They begin by depicting the lost rural idyll of Devon in 1911, and progress to the terrifying world of the French trenches, seen through the eyes of a traumatised soldier. The display includes the original panoramas, backgrounds, explosions and animation drawings that are projected onto a 25-metre wide screen on stage during performances of War Horse.

Along with the Handspring Puppet Company, which designed the life-sized horse puppets used in the show, Smith was awarded the 2008 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Set Design for her work on the show.

War Horse plays at the National Theatre until 18 March and transfers to the West End’s New London theatre from 28 March.

CB

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