Meet Mr. Smith

Liana Lopez

More stories from Liana Lopez

Just Bead It
May 13, 2019

Photo by Liana Lopez

This year Cedar Ridge High School received an addition to the Tech Theater crew, Jeffrey Smith.  Smith is the new Tech Theater teacher and has officially been working in the industry since 2009.

He has been practicing carpentry ever since he was a young boy.

“When I was a kid, my grandfather had a woodworking garage.  I would go and watch him make things and he would let me play around with power tools and hammers all the time,” Smith said.  “I didn’t even realize at the time what I was getting myself into, I just enjoyed it.”

Whenever you attend a play, the opera, the ballet, or even a concert — you notice the people on the stage performing.  You may also notice the costuming, makeup, furniture, lighting and audio effects, as well as the set the performers are on.  All of these elements are a part of the world of Technical Theater.

In Tech Theater, nothing is routine, and no day is identical.

“Every day is a challenge, everyday I’m learning, everyday I’m creating,” Smith said.  He explains that he does not have one favorite skill, because if he did one thing all the time, he’d get sick of it and have to do something else.  “It allows me to do everything.”

Smith has a lot of experience in this industry.

In 2007 he was an intern at SNL, the summer of 2008 he was an intern at the Utah Festival Opera Company, and he developed getting credits at Zach Theater–among many other internships and gigs.

“Actually, when I sit down and go through everything I have done since college, there is not a job or crew position that I teach students that I have not done professionally,” Smith says.  “I’ve done light professionally, set construction, set design, stage management… All these different jobs that I am in charge of teaching kids, I have at least one credit to my name.”

Smith says that the most dangerous part of his job is working with the students that he teaches.

“It’s dangerous putting my trust in students and knowing that I am entrusting teenagers to work with power tools in the shop and trust that they will not do anything stupid-crazy in the workshop,” Smith said.

Smith’s decision to teach Tech Theater was a hard one.

“At the end of the day, I wanted a family,” Smith said.  When you do Tech Theater professionally you work all independent contracts.  You do everything yourself and are constantly writing cover letters, updating resumes, and looking for work.  Because of that, everyday you’re not working is money out of your pocket.

“I hated the idea of being a teacher, but then the lure of weekends, holidays, health insurance, and the same check every month — it really convinced me to just try it.”

Several months later, Smith loves working here at Cedar Ridge.  He loves working in the facility, enjoys his coworkers, and appreciates how eager to learn and hardworking his students are.  “I get to do Tech Theater every single day, and am still able to go home to my wife and kids and be able to support them, while also having time to spend with them.”

You do not need prior experience before taking a Tech Theater class.

“All we are doing in theater is imitating life on stage,” Smith says.  “We can take whatever skills you have, whatever background you have, whatever experiences you have — and we can collaborate and work together to make a better production set.”

Mr. Smith believes that whatever it is you enjoy in life and whatever it is you do in life, there is always a place for you in theater.