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

The torture of being Korean

Defector from the North, goose father from the South

Much of Hansol Jung’s Wild Goose Dreams takes place in a cyberspace Babel. Throngs of voices, mantras of zeroes and ones, and pop-up ads scream for attention, pinball off each other, and drift away. If ...

Ethel Tulloch Banks: union leader and healer

Strong woman in the "jungle days" of the San Diego post office

Ethel Tulloch Banks believed in miracles. For years she fought for miraculous changes at her workplace — and may have lived one herself. Tulloch was a clerk at the San Diego Post Office. In January ...

Betty the Loon never had a dream with a happy ending

Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds — always popular with teenagers

Mr. Goodman and his colleagues at the local high school are convinced Beatrice Hunsdorfer is insane. Every time she calls the school, she’s either too syrupy-calm or tongue-ablaze raving. Does she love her daughters — ...

Hamlet — infinite tragedy

Grantham Coleman flaps his arms chicken-wing, he bobble-heads

You could say that Shakespeare’s Hamlet wakes up in the ultimate actor’s nightmare. He’s thrust onstage with no training. He’ll perform without rehearsals, or even peeking at the text. He must find out the play ...

Kill Local brings savagery to La Jolla Playhouse

This family all kills

Mat Smart’s Kill Local opens way up in a high-rise either under construction or in development-limbo. Yellow “Caution” tape demarcates where windows will be, or should have been. Same with a ladder and orange wheelbarrow ...

Maid Marian has Errol Flynn's DNA

Ken Ludwig's Robin Hood shows friendly little warp

It’s difficult to characterize Ken Ludwig’s Robin Hood, now in its world premiere at the Old Globe. It isn’t the 1938 swashbuckling movie, The Adventures of Robin Hood, where elongated shadows of Errol Flynn and ...

At the Old Place makes Chekhov seem operatic

La Jolla Playhouse's string of premieres

The La Jolla Playhouse is doing whole seasons with only world premieres. From musicals (artistic director Christopher Ashley won a Tony Award for his direction of the Playhouse’s Come From Away) to drama (Rebecca Taichman ...

Guys and Dolls — high-brow and low-brow

Old Globe takes over from colleges and high schools

Frank Loesser (1910–1969) grew up in such a refined household, he had to rebel. His family spoke elegant sentences, and his older brother was a classical pianist. So Loesser chose the wilder side. He cultivated ...

Breath of kings

No gaudy excesses or cartooned foppery in this King Richard

"Not all the water in the rough rude sea/ Can wash the balm from an anointed king./ The breath of worldly men cannot depose/ The deputy elected by the Lord.” Richard of Bordeaux became King ...

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