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

No buffer zones

In Parlour Song at Backyard Renaissance, sea beasts lurk and rove below a mirror-still surface

Toward the end of Jez Butterworth’s eerie, Pinteresque Parlour Song, Dale ruminates. What if you find a door in your house you never knew was there before. “Would you open it?” Ned blows up buildings ...

My Acting Bucket List: Francis Gercke

The Craig Noel Award-winner puts a twist on his list and selects stories instead of roles

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 ...

Cirque du Chaotic

Too much crammed into too little at the Playhouse's Up Here

Long before the dancing cacti showed up or Audrey III flapped mastic jaws in a pile of laundry, I began to wonder if Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez’s romantic-comedy musical, Up Here, was actually a ...

Absurdist inquisition

The Birthday Party at New Fortune Theatre is funny, until it isn't.

When a young actor, Harold Pinter needed a place to stay at a rainy, seaside town. A man in a pub suggested a nearby boarding house, but couldn’t vouch for its cleanliness. Pinter lodged in ...

My acting bucket list: Allison Spratt Pearce

Strong, classic, versatile roles attract the veteran actor

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: Kiss Me, Kate, and the Fringe winners are...

The Old Globe’s mega hit must close Sunday and the most Fringelicious selections for 2015

Kiss Me Kate. The Old Globe’s mega hit must close Sunday. No if’s, and’s, or could we start again please’s. In 2013, Darko Trasnjak, former artistic director at the Globe, brought us a gem of ...

Two-act magic show

Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery at the Old Globe Theatre is not about the mind or mystery, but the execution itself

How to characterize Ken Ludwig’s take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous mystery? It’s not an all-out spoof, since it wades through pages and pages of exposition about the monster hound haunting the moors of ...

Eve of destruction

Cygnet stages Dogfight; New Village Arts explores Forbidden Planet

Did Eddie spend four years in Vietnam? Or did it just seem that way?

Little man with a big gun

The Strange Case of Mr. Wallace Leach, Part Two

Wallace Leach barged into the Occidental Hotel bar with a broken nose and a powerful thirst. He was in San Francisco on business, he said, but was out for revenge. He came to hire a ...