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

Songs appear like far-off islands in Escape to Margaritaville

Rachel slams the same door on Tully that he’s been slamming on his conquests.

Times change. When Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville” came out in 1977, the singer couldn’t find his salt shaker for said beverage. One might have thought, Poor dude, it won’t be the same. Today, the health-conscious would ...

Opposing views of American history, from Jim Crow to the Harlem Renaissance and Civil Rights

The Delaney Sisters don’t like to be called “African-Americans.”

New Village Arts’ Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years is one of that company’s best shows in its 16 seasons. Sarah L. “Sadie” and Elizabeth “Bessie” Delany don’t like to be called ...

PigPen’s doozy about the end of the world

Chaos or wife?

The Old Globe’s multileveled set for The Old Man and the Old Moon — pilings, planks, and wooden boxes — suggests an ancient wharf. Downstage footlights and roughhewn boards say a 19th-century theater. As the ...

Silent Sky: Henrietta Leavitt goes beyond the Milky Way

Harvard Observatory at Lamb's Players

Sean Fanning has done it again. The Designer of the Year for 2016 converted Lamb’s Players’ stage into the Harvard Observatory. Laura Gunderson’s Silent Sky begins early in the 20th Century. Harvard has the state-of-the-art ...

Into the Beautiful North has a little Oz

Stop the bandits

If Tres Camarones (“three shrimp”) actually existed, the small fishing village would be about 35 miles south of Mazatlan on the Gulf of California. According to Into the Beautiful North — Karen Zacharias’s new play ...

Hounded by thugs

Old Globe’s Red Velvet has one strong scene

Lolita Chakrabarti wrote a mediocre play about an important subject. The Old Globe Theatre’s puzzling, under-rehearsed opening night was no help. There are great reasons why our Calvin Manson named his company the Ira Aldridge ...

See the elephant and all its meanings before Abundance closes

From wide-eyed dreams to unthinkable terrors

Last call Backyard Renaissance’s fine production of Beth Henley’s Abundance must close this Sunday. The play begins in the late 1860s. Bess and Macon, mail order brides, come to the wild Wyoming Territory to wed ...

Farce reigns On the 20th Century train

Cygnet puts the loco in locomotive

Theatrical wizard David Belasco (1853–1931) was a major link between 19th- and 20th-century theater. Instead of deep-fried, scenery-chomping acting, he demanded a more naturalistic style and detailed sets famous for their “tidiness.” He banished footlights ...

Write Out Loud presents Read-Imagine-Create finalists

Wide-open choices free students from narrow responses.

I want to plug a project that’s dear to my heart. Founded in 2007, Write Out Loud has a commitment “to inspire, challenge, and entertain by reading short stories aloud for a live audience.” Their ...

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