Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith is the senior writer at the Reader; he began reviewing theater in 1980. He also writes a local history column. He has a Ph.D. in literature and critical theory from the University of California, Irvine, and wrote his doctoral dissertation on Shakespeare. He was the original writing director of two University of California freshman composition programs: the Humanities Core Course, at Irvine, and the Revelle Humanities/Writing Program at UCSD. Over the years, Jeff has dramaturged dozens of shows. Favorites include Sam Shepard’s Tooth of Crime, Peter Barnes’s Red Noses (both at the San Diego Rep), Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia (North Coast Rep), Things May Disimprove: Samuel Becket One-Acts (L&L Productions), and Shakespeare’s Hamlet (New Village Arts).

He is currently converting several columns into ebook format:

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Latest Articles

Last Call: All My Sons at Intrepid in Encinitas

Karma not instant, but inevitable

If I had a penny for every time I heard someone say “I wanted to see that show. Now I hear it closed,” I could start my own theater — and have a permanent tee-time ...

Rothko is extremes

The stage picture seems to move.

When courting his second wife-to-be, Mark Rothko gave her a copy of The Trial. In Franz Kafka’s uncompleted novel, an unnamed accuser arrests Josef K for an unnamed crime. According to his biographer, James E.B. ...

Time and the Conways at the Old Globe

J.B. Priestley’s 1937 drama is not a great play. But it’s a haunter. The Old Globe’s excellent cast probably won’t have too many standing ovations because the spell doesn’t break until long after the curtain ...

The Liar at Scripps Ranch Theatre

"Make it cohere, and they’ll follow you anywhere.”

“The thing I’m not will make me live.” San Diego’s David Ives Victory Tour continues at Scripps Ranch Theatre with his re-invigoration of Pierre Corneille’s 1643 comedy. As with Venus in Fur at San Diego ...

All My Sons at Intrepid Shakespeare Company

Okay, it isn’t Death of a Salesman, to which it will forever be compared. And its form lies just this side of calculated. But Arthur Miller’s earlier play, written during World War II, still packs ...

The Many Trials of Madame Tingley, Part one

What Theosophists found in San Diego.

On January 8, 1903, just before his final remarks as attorney for the defense, Samuel Shortridge paused. He seemed to stare through the floor, as he struggled to find the crucial words. Then he rose ...

Quilters at Lamb’s Players

Uniting pioneering women

Sarah McKendree Bonham, who came west in a covered wagon, hasn’t long to live. Aware that, as the bible says, most of a woman’s work “perishes in the using,” she decides to make a “legacy ...

Stomp holes in the floor

Spring Awakening's lovely/evil

This idea for a musical sounds doomed from the start: base the story on a 100-plus-year-old play so controversial several countries banned it, which closed after one night on Broadway; talk and sing openly about ...

Robert May: Out on a limb

Budding playwrights used to ask Robert May why their scripts weren’t being produced. Some had a staged reading, but nothing beyond that. May kept his “flip answer” to himself: “Write a better play.” “Now I ...