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

The White Snake slithers into the Old Globe

Believing is seeing

"Sir, you are married to a snake!” the holy man Fa Hai tells bewildered Xu Xian at the Golden Monastery. “You are coiled in the snares of a snake demon.” His wife and her sidekick ...

Brian Mackey’s acting bucket list

Self-discovery, transformation, and charismatic villainy are all enticing to the Craig Noel Award-winner.

I’m asking veteran local 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 ...

Last call: Oedipus El Rey, You Can't Take It with You, Baby with the Bathwater

Three very different, beautifully performed shows must end their runs this Sunday.

Oedipus El Rey, San Diego Rep. This isn’t Sophocles’ Oedipus, its playwright Luis Alfaro’s Oedipus Gomez. He rises from prison to become a Scarface-like, L.A. drug lord who has faith only in himself (“God’s ego’s ...

Infectious exuberance

Wonderful My Fair Lady enthralls at Cygnet

“I could’ve donced all night, I could’ve donced all night” — at least half the audience at intermission, it seemed, bounced up the aisles at Cygnet Theatre singing this song, including the accent! And when ...

Divided, disconnected

Made and missed connections in story and on stage in Kin at Ion Theatre

Anna didn’t get her wish. She wanted to write her doctoral dissertation on punctuation in Emily Dickenson’s poems but couldn’t. So she wrote on how John Keats punctuated his. Bathsheba Doran’s Kin begins with Anna’s ...

Not for all their wealth

Pay-to-play stage roles for rich women — but would the manager ever let one play a lead?

I found this in the San Diego Union, July 8, 1887, a reprint from the New York Mail and Daily Express. The best dressed character in the show spoke only ten lines. “Her costume was ...

An evening at Villa Montezuma

A carnivorous smile among the city’s upper crust

Between 1887 and 1889, Jesse Shepard gave musicales at his Villa Montezuma. He had an international reputation as a singer/pianist. Others called him a charlatan. To bring instant culture to the pioneer town, San Diegans ...

Unfolding fatality

SD Rep presents marvelous, tragic version of Oedipus El Rey

A young man and an older woman, both naked, make tender love in silk sheets amid a roseate aura. They haven’t known each other long, but found common goals and dreams. A blazing sense they ...

Harsh and tender

Passion & Honey's choreo-poems share deep feeling at Ira Aldridge Repertory Players

Artistic director Calvin Manson opens the Ira Aldridge Repertory Players 31st season with its 199th production, a choreo-poem, based on his poetry, that begins in innocence and concludes in tragedy — and hope. Ntozsake Shange ...

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