Michael Townsend Smith

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For other people named Michael Smith, see Michael Smith (disambiguation).

Michael Townsend Smith (born October 5, 1935) is an American man of the theater. He has worked as a playwright, director, impresario, critic, and lighting designer.


He was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and educated in Kansas City and at Hotchkiss and Yale. As theatre critic for The Village Voice in the 1960s and early 1970s, he was active in the development of an alternative, non-commercial theatre in New York (Off-Off-Broadway) and also active as a director, playwright, and lighting designer. He directed early works by Sam Shepard, Ronald Tavel, María Irene Fornés, Emanuel Peluso, Jean-Claude van Itallie, Soren Agenoux, H. M. Koutoukas, and William M. Hoffman, as well as many of his own plays and plays by Samuel Beckett, Edward Albee, Christopher Fry, Gertrude Stein, and others.

During the 1960s, he interviewed Wolfgang Zuckermann, the noted manufacturer and scholar of harpsichords, for The Village Voice. The two became friends and together embarked on projects in the performing arts. They ran the Sundance Festival of Chamber Arts, a performing arts festival in rural Pennsylvania, and attempted (unsuccessfully) to revive the fortunes of the Caffe Cino, an early off-off-Broadway coffeehouse/theater near Zuckermann's workshop in Greenwich Village.[1] For details, see Wolfgang Zuckermann. Later, in the 1980s, Smith himself became a harpsichord and fortepiano maker.

In the 1990s he was the editor of Santa Barbara Magazine and founded Genesis West, a Santa Barbara theatre company, presenting his own plays and plays by Shepard, Fornes, and George F. Walker. He was arts editor of the "Santa Barbara Independent" and music and dance critic for the Santa Barbara News-Press. In 2003 he moved to Silverton, Oregon, where he is associated with the Brush Creek Players.


His plays include "Captain Jack's Revenge," "Country Music," "Cowgirl Ecstasy," "Heavy Pockets," and "Half Life."

"More, More, More, I Want More"[2] was a three-minute play Smith wrote with Remy Charlip and Johnny Dodd for their actress friend, Joyce Aaron to perform at a benefit at Cafe La MaMa to upgrade electrical wiring and devices in the theatre. Called "BbAaNnGg", the performance, organized by playwright, Robert Patrick (playwright) consisted of more than 25 three-minute skits by as many authors and was reviewed by Michael Smith in his Theatre Journal column.[3]


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