“A Day in the Life” with Driftwood Theatre’s Artistic Director Jeremy Smith

D. Jeremy Smith (a.k.a. Jeremy, The Germ, Yarmony Smoothe, Mr. Keast) is the 2nd son born of two confirmed saints, Barbara and Howard. He grew up in Oshawa, Ontario, where he was educated in a French Immersion grade school, which taught him to speak in a slippery dialect akin to the waxing of a boat keel. In his youth, he was taken to a production of CATS (as a form of torture or tutelage, this biographer will never know) where the loves of theatre, song, and leotards were firmly ingrained. He received his high school education at Paul Dwyer Catholic High School, where he excelled at visual arts, theatre, photography, and mullet-growth. It was during his final year of high school, whilst shooting an independent vampire film, that Jeremy befriended the infamous biographer aforementioned.

After graduating high school, Jeremy attended Queen’s University (thinking said institution had something to do with his favourite rock band). There, Jeremy’s love of theatre was reinvigorated and, during the summer before his graduating year, he decided to start a company that would allow him, as he has always admitted, ‘to play Puck’. That company was Driftwood.

The Driftwood Theatre Group (inception date: 1995) has been Jeremy’s chief labour of love for the past quarter-century, with small hiatuses to marry and raise a family of gorgeous womenfolk. What began as a rag-tag band of misfits, traveling to a mere four locations in Durham Region with its entire set in the back of a pickup truck, has grown into an even BIGGER rag-tag band of misfits, traveling to over 20 communities across Southern Central Ontario, with its set, props, costumes, and unionized performers, in a cube van and retrofitted short bus. Jeremy has been artistic director/performer/designer/general manager/bossypants/sundry of The Driftwood Theatre Group for the past twenty-five years.

It has been this biographer’s privilege, and—at times—life-saving honour, to be both a founding and current company member of D. Jeremy Smith’s Driftwood Theatre Group. DTG is a company that exemplifies what is horribly lacking in today’s world: deep-rooted community love, fidelity, and the open-armed welcoming of others. Driftwood is not necessarily Jeremy’s brain-child as much as his heart-offering…one that has drawn together a vast assembly of the brightest lights, talents, craftspeople, and family from all over the province, the country, and the world.

D. Jeremy Smith is also a Guitar Hero. He likes horrible movies as much as good movies. And he will—most notably—have your back in an instant. He is still capable of growing a mullet, but declines.

-by Steven Burley

jeremy smith - A day in the life of an artist, step one: entertain your three year old…
A day in the life of an artist, step one: entertain your three year old…
jeremy smith - …then make sure your six year old learns basic survival skills.
…then make sure your six year old learns basic survival skills.
jeremy smith - It’s opening night for Dream which of course means…scenic painting touch ups (putting those ancillary skills to good use).
It’s opening night for Dream which of course means…scenic painting touch ups (putting those ancillary skills to good use).
It just so happens that I’m also understudying a role in the show (long story). So I’m the last one to get time with music director Tom Lillington.
It just so happens that I’m also understudying a role in the show (long story). So I’m the last one to get time with music director Tom Lillington.
Let there be cake!! Wouldn’t have a 25th anniversary opening night without some. Joined here by Driftwood board president (and award-winning author – look him up) Trevor Cole. Photo by Dahlia Katz.
Let there be cake!! Wouldn’t have a 25th anniversary opening night without some. Joined here by Driftwood board president (and award-winning author – look him up) Trevor Cole. Photo by Dahlia Katz.
I may look unhappy, but maybe that’s just because everyone else got cake before me… Loved this pre-show chat with our opening night guests. Photo by Dahlia Katz.
I may look unhappy, but maybe that’s just because everyone else got cake before me… Loved this pre-show chat with our opening night guests. Photo by Dahlia Katz.
Finally got to sit back and just enjoy A (musical) Midsummer Night’s Dream with a packed house (or grass tennis court) of audience members. Photo by Dahlia Katz.
Finally got to sit back and just enjoy A (musical) Midsummer Night’s Dream with a packed house (or grass tennis court) of audience members. Photo by Dahlia Katz.
This photo isn’t great, but it perfectly captures the glamour of touring outdoor theatre: after an incredible opening, the skies opened up and let loose a few buckets of rain as we struck the show. Cast and crew thoroughly soaked (complete with actor Nick Dolan’s highly reflective pants: we’ll never lose him in the dark). Ontario, here we come!

Which Toronto ‘hood are you in?

North Riverdale/Greektown

What do you do for Driftwood?

I’m the founding Artistic Director for Driftwood Theatre, bringing accessible theatre to communities across Ontario. I just finished wrapping up directing duties on A (musical) Midsummer Night’s Dream.

What are you currently working on?

I’m right in the middle of Driftwood’s 25th season of The Bard’s Bus Tour, featuring a groovy adaptation of William Shakespeare’s A (musical) Midsummer Night’s Dream that I created with composers Kevin Fox and Tom Lillington.

Where can we find your work?

A (musical) Midsummer Night’s Dream is on tour across Ontario until August 18. In Toronto, you can catch the show at Daniels Spectrum Courtyard (August 15).

www.driftwoodtheatre.com/see/bardsbustour

 

 

 

Joel Levy
About Joel Levy 1715 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography