Annie Smart initially trained as a singer, dancer, and actress at London's Arts Educational Trust before focusing on the visual side of theatre while taking a degree in Drama at Manchester. After post-graduate studies in Brechtian design at Nottingham University, she worked as resident designer/collaborator for children's theatre, theatre-in-education, and community theatre companies, developing storytelling fantasies alongside educational and political pieces. She then took the Motley Theatre Design Course, a post-graduate intensive. Following this, she was appointed Resident Designer first at Leicester Haymarket Studio Theatre and later Liverpool Repertory. In 1981, Annie became an active member of the cutting-edge collective Joint Stock, developing visuals for three major pieces with them. Throughout the 1980s her work in the UK was particularly associated with emerging women's and feminist theatre, designing premieres for Caryl Churchill (Fen, A Mouthful of Birds and The Skriker), Bryony Lavery, Clare McIntyre, Anne Devlin, Sarah Daniels, Louise Page, Elizabeth Bond and Shelagh Stephenson. Before moving permanently to the USA in 1996, she designed sets and costumes for five shows at the National Theatre: Strindberg/John Osborne The Father, Pirandello Man, Beast and Virtue and The Mountain Giants, Bulgarkov/Dewhurst Black Snow and Churchill The Skriker.
More recently as a US resident, Annie designed the settings for the premieres of four works by Charles Mee: Big Love, Wintertime, Fetes de la Nuit and Cardenio, and four for Sarah Ruhl: In the Next Room (when my designs went to Broadway), her version of Chekhov's Three Sisters, Dear Elizabeth and For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday.
Annie currently designs about three shows a year—mostly sets and occasionally costumes. Her work has been seen at: The Royal Court Theatre, Edinburgh Lyceum, The Public Theater NY, BAM, Arena Stage, The Guthrie, The Goodman, La Jolla Playhouse, ACT, Long Wharf, Cal Shakes (approx. 15 shows) ART, Dusseldorf Schauspielhaus, Tricycle, Theater for a New Audience, Steppenwolf, Berkeley Rep (approx. 15 shows), and more. Directors I've collaborated with regularly include Les Waters, Annie Castledine, Jules Wright, William Gaskill, David Leveaux, Tony Taccone, Carey Perloff, Meredith McDonough, Amy Glazer and Jonathon Moscone.
Among many other teaching positions, Annie was Chair of the M.F.A. in Theatre Design and Scenography at London's Wimbledon School of Art (1994-1996) and Professor of Stage Design at UC San Diego's Department of Theatre and Dance (1999-2004).