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

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 ...

African-American experience starts off with the Odyssey

Intrepid Theater stages one of the most important plays of our era

Suzan-Lori Parks loathes safe theater. The “insidious, schmaltz-laden mode of expression threatens to cover us all, like Vesuvius, in our sleep.” She writes “don’t be afraid to show your ass” plays to “defend dramatic literature ...

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 ...

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