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

Campo –small town rich in drama

Naked monks, Tecate train, Luman gunfight, 2004 fire, sand trucks, selfish developers, Campo Diner, vigilante Minutemen

Complications of Tijuana to Tecate to Campo train Ten federal agents waiting at the railway museum are demanding that the train continue onto its last stop in Campo and be cleared through customs before anybody ...

Charles and Diana: the difference between Mstislav Rostropovich and Duran Duran

Like speed reading a tabloid

Editor: This week marks Jeff Smith’s last as the Reader’s theater critic. Smith is the longest-standing writer at the paper, having started in 1980. Before joining us, he got his Ph.D. in literature and critical ...

Meandering must-see

“One almost wants to believe Von Pfunz is the ultimate oxymoron: a nice Nazi.”

Did the angel Gabriel flutter down from heaven to save Guernsey islanders from German occupation in 1943? Or did another Gabriel wash ashore, naked, from a shipwreck? He doesn’t know. He has amnesia, and Gabriel ...

Ask Sugar

It avoids step-by-step progress and cuts right to the pain.

She’s a published author, working on another novel. She writes at home, cleaning up crayons and de-capping a beer before confronting the computer screen. Phone rings. It’s Steve Almond, editor of The Rumpus. He's resigned ...

San Diego Reader 2019 Arts issue

Dance, classical music, galleries, street art, movies, theater

Birds sing, elephants dance, and monkeys paint, but only humans turn those activities into art. And only humans evince a bottomless hunger for it: hence the endless parade of pictures on Instagram, stories on Netflix, ...

An in-house culture war that’s also funny

“You want this little white boy from Minnetonka to bring us some cows?”

Danai Gurira plays Michonne, the warrior in The Walking Dead. She co-starred in Black Panther, has won high-buck awards for writing and acting, and has founded or co-founded organizations for supporting women and African dramatic ...

A soup to bring Dad back to life

“We demanded the sublime on a platter.”

When Ray, a Korean-American, said he wanted to be a gourmet chef, his father loathed the idea. Cooking is “women’s work,” he said. It’s low class, uneducated. Ray became a chef anyway, and top-shelf at ...

Moon Over Buffalo: to perform farce well

"Like living in an asylum on the guards' day off."

Ken Ludwig’s farce Moon Over Buffalo takes place backstage at the Erlanger Theatre in 1953. For the North Coast Rep, Marty Burnett’s set is so authentic, it could have been transported by time machine from ...

A hard sit

You can escape Nazis, but you can’t escape family

Sometimes novelists tell a story backward, from finish to start. In theater, “reverse chronology” is rare. Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, one of the few successes, begins after the end of an affair and backpedals seven years ...

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