Jeff Smith

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:

Latest Articles

Rogue river

North Coast Rep's Way Downriver, set in Louisiana, 1927

Though most had "lived within the shadow of the levee," some "had never even seen the river."

Beekeeper meets physicist

Constellations at Old Globe Theatre

Beekeeper meets physicist at a party. Neither is adept at romance. Roland (the beekeeper) says the wrong thing. Marianne (the physicist who studies “theoretical early universe cosmology”) backs out. Blackout. Lights up — same scenario: ...

When Victorian propriety fell apart

Notes for The Elephant Man

I won’t be able to review, and therefore shouldn’t comment, on Backyard Renaissance/Oceanside Theatre Company’s production of The Elephant Man. I dramaturged the play twice before and, when asked, did a talk for the cast ...

Rain falls on the Old Globe stage

We all want new lives

“She’ll be starved and tortured...I want her to accept the punishment of man as a sacrifice to God.”

In search of the unwanted

This land is mine: The Cupeño removal of 1903, part two of four

U.S. government didn’t fool Cecilio Blacktooth.

My Acting Bucket List: Bets Malone

"I want to walk in the shoes of everyone Sondheim creates."

I’m asking veteran actors to name five dream roles and say why. The answers not only reveal aspirations, they may put an idea in the minds of artistic directors and producers — even choices that ...

Last Call: Virginia, Godot, Bucky

Three quality shows conclude their runs this Sunday, April 10

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? From the big picture to the small details, this is an outstanding production of Edward Albee’s masterpiece. George and Martha’s off-hours, young-faculty-initiation party devolves into a Walpurgisnacht of exorcisms and ...

The blackest of crimes committed against Warner Ranch Indians.

This land is mine: The Cupeño removal of 1903, part one of four

Visitors to the Indian village at Kupa were often struck by the silence. No loud voices, no sudden shouts. Even children played quietly. A stillness spread from the bowl-shaped Valle de San Jose below, past ...

Mr. G. will come

Waiting for Godot at Fruitlessmoon Theatreworks

Two tramps (today they’d be called “homeless”) wait by a leafless tree for a mysterious man. He told Vladimir he’d come yesterday. But didn’t. Then he said today. Nope. So, they wait and try to ...

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