3 Oct 2018

Vale Peter Smith

Peter Smith 15/9/31 – 27/9/18.

Peter started his career in theatre in 1951, initially as an acting student at the Independent Theatre in North Sydney. One evening Doris Fitton the owner of the theatre asked the acting class if anyone would volunteer to assist the stage manager. It was here he became fascinated with the life backstage.

For the next 4 years he worked backstage with the odd acting role thrown in. Subsequently he accepted the role of Stage Manager for the national tour of White Cargo followed by 3 more productions for the same company.


In 1955 he toured Australia with The Old Vic Theatre Company where he met his first wife Felix. At the conclusion of the season, they travelled to England with the rest of the company. Peter found work at Sadlers Well Opera running the lighting board. He then toured the UK as Stage Manager for the first production of Romanoff & Juliet and began to craft his skill as a lighting designer. He then returned to work as Stage Manager for the Old Vic theatre company at a much lower salary than he received on tour, this opportunity gave him the experience of working with many of the theatrical greats of British theatre. He toured production extensively during this time including touring to the USA, Europe and even Russia.

1961 saw Peter and his family return to Australia where he worked on the production of Oliver and touring various shows for JC Williamsons. From there he joined the Elizabethan Theatre Trust as a Stage Manager where he undertook tours of local and international productions.

Spending time as Manager for the Alexander Theatre at Monash University he got a taste for educating theatre practitioners.

After 2 years, he was appointed as Production Manager for the AETT, he introduced professional practices to the various production having learned the practices while working overseas. During this time he began training technical students at NIDA and was appointed to their board of studies.

Reg Barton of Strand Lighting approached Peter and he was appointed as NSW Manager for Strand Lighting. He enjoyed his time there until the suits from Rank took Strand over.

This prompted him to go to NIDA full time as head of production where he started the process of creating course notes that became the foundation for his book “Duties of Stage Management” published by the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts.

After 7 years at NIDA, he moved to the Darling Downs Institute at Toowoomba to continue educating students in professional production.

He was tempted back theatre for a while becoming Production Manager for the South Australian Opera Company before his appointment at WAAPA to continue educating students in professional theatre practices.

Wherever possible, he continued to take the opportunity of designing lighting notably for the Sydney Theatre Company and as resident designer for Rockdale Opera.

His second wife opera singer Joan Shute predeceased him. He is survived by 3 children, 2 stepchildren and 14 grandchildren.


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