[img]http://hits.guardian.co.uk/b/ss/guardiangu-feeds/1/H.20.3/30268?ns=guardian&pageName=William+X+Smith+obituary%3AArticle%3A1313759&ch=From+the+Guardian&c3=Guardian&c4=Theatre%2CArt+%28visual+arts+only%29&c6=Tom+Carver&c7=09-Dec-02&c8=1313759&c9=Article&c10=Obituary&c11=From+the+Guardian&c13=Other+lives+%28series%29&c25=&c30=content&h2=GU%2FFrom+the+Guardian%2FTheatre[/img]My friend William X Smith, who has died of lung cancer aged 47, worked in theatrical lighting and was chief electrician at opera houses in Belfast and Buxton, Derbyshire, in the 1980s. He had recently found a new home as technical manager at the Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich, inspiring younger technicians and volunteers.
Born in Bowdon, Cheshire, he moved to Belfast, aged three, when his father took a post at Queen's University. Educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, he was fascinated by all things electronic, electrical and technological and gained early experience in lighting at the institution's theatre. By the age of 14 he had lit a brass-band concert and fashion show.
At Belfast's Grand Opera House, he started as a volunteer and rose to be chief electrician. It was here that he met his first wife, Bridget. In 1985 he joined Buxton Opera House as chief electrician, spending a couple of years there until a combination of family commitments and health problems led to his theatrical exile. He moved to Norfolk, where he was an enthusiastic volunteer at a recycling scheme in Reepham, working on a project that diverted unused paints from landfill to educational and community uses, including large murals in King's Lynn and Great Yarmouth.
Surrounded by paint and inspired by the art work of his second wife, Lucy, he took up painting and produced bold, colourful acrylics influenced by mathematical and cellular shapes and structures. With no middle name, he adopted the X to provide a distinctive artist's signature and email address.
Late in his life, a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome cast a new and revealing light on some of his health and life problems. When he was diagnosed with lung cancer in July, one of his first acts was to buy a book on oncology to understand his illness and treatment better.
He is survived by Lucy, two stepdaughters and two stepgrandchildren, by Bridget and their daughter, Sophie, and by his father. Two brothers and his mother predeceased him.
William was given a theatrical send-off at Norwich crematorium, with a full house and standing room only. To the words "Exit William, upstage left" and a spontaneous round of applause, he departed, as it were, behind the arras.
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Guardian: William X Smith obituary
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