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).

Articles by Jeff Smith

Controlled chaos

The dashes become madder, the hand-offs quicker, and the stage becomes a whirling kaleidoscope.

Noises from backstage during a performance — i.e. “noises off” — are one of the great bugaboos of live theater. They could be anything: flubbed costume changes, microphone left on, missing prop. They yank us ...

The Wanderers: a play that unfolds like a book

It even has “Chapters.” “Marriage,” “Children,” “Boredom,” “Destruction.”

A divorced friend on a collision course with #2 confessed: “I don’t choose well. Maybe someone should pick ex- #3 for me, like an arranged marriage.” Anna Ziegler’s The Wanderers, in a world premiere at ...

Plays and actors to look out for in San Diego

Not overwhelmed, but definitely whelmed

Director in demand — Christopher Ashley The La Jolla Playhouse’s artistic director Christopher Ashley won the 2017 Tony Award for best director of a musical, the playhouse’s Broadway hit Come From Away. So, what’s he ...

It’s true what they say about Hamilton

Faster and deeper

Art can alter life, literally. In 2015, the Treasury Department planned to take Alexander Hamilton’s portrait off the ten-dollar bill. The indefatigable Founding Father was too controversial (he came close to advocating dictatorship and a ...

San Diego Hamilton worshipers get theirs

Worship it

Hamilton, the Musical is coming! Hamilton is almost here! Beginning January 9, and ending January 28, the most decorated Broadway show in eons will run at the San Diego Civic Theatre. Lin-Manuel Miranda, genius, based ...

The most dazzling show ever staged at the La Jolla Playhouse

Summer — disco in a jiff

"Toot, ahhhhh, beep-beep... Toot-toot, ahhhhh, beep-beep.” People of a certain age will recognize Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls” from its first few notes. These may also conjure visions of glitter balls and strobe effects — timed ...

InnerMission's Falling: rarely happy

Autistics lack internal brain map

InnerMission Theatres’ starkly realistic, deeply moving production of Deanna Jent’s Falling closes this Saturday. It deserves a much longer run. About halfway into the 80-minute piece, teenaged Lisa Martin tells her mother, Tami, she wants ...

Taste? Nuance? — Too last century

Hand to God will make you squirm

In this era of manic video games and computer graphics, everything is all in. Used to be, when someone fell in a movie, they’d clear the window, or whatever, free-fall for a spell, and you’d ...

Characters crave spotlight but throw away lines

Cygnet reacting to local theater belting-out?

Mark Twain wrote: “The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” Matthew Lopez’s Legend of Georgia McBride is a stencil-thin, though often ...

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