Tommy Smith (playwright)

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Tommy Smith is a New York based playwright/director.

Early life[edit]

Born in Santa Monica, California and raised in Gig Harbor, Washington, Smith moved to Seattle, WA in 1996. Initially an actor, Smith played roles at Intiman Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre,[1] and others before working in the literary department at ACT Theatre. He began writing and adapting plays, winning the Artistic Pick at the 2001 Seattle Fringe Festival with his solo show version of Joe Wenderoth’s book Letters to Wendy’s.

New York Theatre[edit]

In 2004, Smith performed as a “dwarf” (a supernumerary with no lines) in Richard Foreman’s King Cowboy Rufus Rules The Universe.[2] He was subsequently accepted into the The Juilliard School's Playwriting Program under Marsha Norman and Christopher Durang. Upon his graduation, Smith was invited to The 2006 Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference to develop his play Air Conditioning.[3]

In 2007, Smith teamed with director May Adrales at the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab to developed the play White Hot, a darkly comic psychological drama. White Hot played at HERE Arts Center in Summer 2007 and was subsequently published in the 2008 New York Theatre Review. The forward by playwright Craig Lucas elucidates:

"[Tommy Smith] is writing in the shadow of our most daring and politically incendiary of martyred playwright saints, Sarah Kane and Edward Bond ... This is bleak terrain, a buried cesspool of self-loathing and unseemly, sadistic yearnings in love. The play can be read as a critique of the deadening fallout of our reactionary, materialistic, exploitative and soulless era. It can be read as a bad dream or a soap opera about the banality of evil. However you read it, it doesn’t go down easy."

Smith went on to work at a number of theatrical projects, including the Iraq war drama PTSD at Ensemble Studio Theatre,[4] the choral composer play Sextet with Washington Ensemble Theatre and the book for the musical Goodnight Mecca (a country retelling of the rise of the Prophet Muhammad) with composer/singer Gabriel Kahane at the 2007 Williamstown Theatre Festival; Goodnight Mecca was subsequently featured in The New York Times' "2007 Year In Ideas".[5] Smith wrote text for the multimedia theatre piece A Day In Dig Nation at Performance Space 122.[6]

Currently, Smith is working on a play about Hasidic Jews called The Wife (his second collaboration with director May Adrales). Recently, Smith was awarded the 2010-11 PONY Fellowship at the Lark Play Development Center.[7]

Collaborations with Reggie Watts[edit]

Starting in 2007, Smith began directing experimental multi-media theater with long-time friend and comedian/musician Reggie Watts. They have generated four pieces, Transition, Disinformation, Radioplay and Dutch A/V. Filled with complex projected imagery by ex-Wooster Group video artist Joby Emmons, these pieces are born from Watts and Smith’s belief in Situationism, as they seek to bait viewers into a trance-like state via an assortment of linguistic and visual stage tricks.

Transition played at The Under the Radar Festival at The Public Theater, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s Time Based Art Festival and On the Boards (Seattle). Disinformation was seen at the Under The Radar,[8] PICA: TBA, The Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), The Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh), and ICA (Boston). Radioplay premiered at Ars Nova (New York), and played at Seattle Repertory Theatre (Bumbershoot), IRT Theater (New York) and Red House Arts Center (Syracuse). Dutch A/V, a live environmental film performance, was workshopped at IRT Theater (New York).

A recording of their show Transition at On the Boards helped launch the first-ever live performance download website, OTBTV.[9]


Smith is a winner of the Page 73 Productions Playwriting Fellowship, a recipient of the Sloan Foundation Grant and a member of the Dorothy Strelsin New American Writer’s Group at Primary Stages. For his collaborations with Reggie Watts, Smith has also won the MAP Fund Award and Creative Capital Award.


  1. ^ Frank, Jonathan. "1776 and Spinning Into Butter" Talkin' Broadway, New York, 14 April 2000. Retrieved on 2010-05-21
  2. ^ Smith, Tommy. "Snap Crackle Pop: Dancing in Richard Foreman’s Brain" Brooklyn Rail, Brooklyn, 1 March 2007. Retrieved on 2010-05-21
  3. ^ Hernandez, Ernio "Broadway Stars Ready for Readings at O'Neill Center Playwrights Conference" Playbill, New York, 1 March 2006. Retrieved on 2010-05-21
  4. ^ S.D., Travis "Ensemble Studio Theatre's One-Act Festival Returns" Village Voice, New York, 12 August 2008. Retrieved on 2010-05-21
  5. ^ Nugent, Benjamin "7th Annual Year in Ideas: INDIE-ROCK MUSICALS" New York Times, New York, 9 December 2007. Retrieved on 2010-05-21
  6. ^ "'A Day In Dig Nation' Opens at Performance Space 122" Broadway World, New York, 12 August 2008. Retrieved on 2010-05-21
  7. ^ Cox, Gordon. "Smith snags Lark fellowship" Variety, New York, 17 May 2010. Retrieved on 2010-05-21
  8. ^ Zinoman, Jason. "Under the Radar Festival in Review" New York Times, New York, 17 May 2010. Retrieved on 2010-05-21
  9. ^ La Rocco, Claudia. "Recording Staged Works for All the World to See" New York Times, New York, 20 January 2010. Retrieved on 2010-05-21