President: Pam Kragen, the president of the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle, is a feature writer and backup theater critic for the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper. From 1999-September 2012, she served as arts and features editor and theater critic of The North County Times newspaper. She is a fellow from the National Endowment for the Arts’ Institutes for Arts Journalism at USC (2005) and Columbia University (2010). She has worked full-time at daily newspapers in the San Diego area since 1981, when she joined the staff of the Daily Aztec at her alma mater, San Diego State University.
Vice President: James Hebert is the vice president of the Critics Circle and the theater critic for the San Diego Union-Tribune , and has served as an arts writer for the newspaper since 1997. He spent his early childhood in Japan before the family moved to California in 1967. After graduating from SDSU, he earned a master’s degree at Columbia University in New York, then moved to Boston with his now-wife, Sophy Chaffee (a Columbia classmate), where he became assistant editor of Offshore magazine. He shortly got out of the yachting racket and returned to San Diego, joining the U-T as a copy editor. Hebert has written about pop music, film and media, and has reviewed theater here since 1995. He’s a proud dad of two highly entertaining kids, Audrey and Zander. Likes: Surfing, running, Greek food. Dislikes: Weak coffee, “Starlight Express.”
Secretary: Pat Launer, secretary for the Critics Circle, attended her first theater production in utero. Fortunately, growing up in New York, she was readily able to feed her theatergoing habit. When she moved to San Diego in 1979, she started Sign of the Times, the San Diego Theatre of the Deaf. Pat earned her Ph.D. in Communication Arts and Sciences from the City University of New York, and taught at San Diego State University for 24 years, where she was named Most Influential Faculty seven times. She won an Emmy Award for “Center Stage,” the theater variety show she created, wrote and hosted on KPBS-TV. She garnered two Emmy nominations for the Patté Awards for Theater Excellence, which she created, produced and hosted for 13 years. Her theater documentaries have won local and national awards. In 2005, the Women’s International Center named her a Living Legacy. For more than 25 years, she’s been San Diego’s only regularly broadcast theater critic. Her reviews air on KSDS-FM and online at TimesofSanDiego.com. Her reviews (dating back to 1990) can be found at www.patlauner.com.
Historian: Jeff Smith has been the theater critic for the San Diego Reader since 1980, and also writes a local history column. He has a Ph.D. in literature and critical theory from the University of California, Irvine. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on Shakespeare. He has dramaturged dozens of shows. Favorites include Sam Shepard’s The Tooth of Crime, Peter Barnes’s Red Noses (both at SD Rep), Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia (North Coast Rep), Shakespeare’s Hamlet (New Village Arts) and Romulus Linney’s Holy Ghosts (Sullivan Players).
Carol Davis is a freelance critic who writes theater reviews on her website Carol’s Reviews. She is the former critic for Examiner.com and was the lead critic for the San Diego Jewish Times for more than 20 years, five of which she shared a byline with her late husband, Gerry. She has been a member of the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle since 1986. Carol is a past member of the American Theatre Critics Association.
David L. Coddon is a longtime voice on the San Diego arts, entertainment and cultural scene. The former editor of the San Diego Union-Tribune’s “Currents Weekend” and “Night&Day” sections, he wrote a popular column on the arts, “For What It’s Worth,” and chronicled in particular the glitter and impetuosity of the film industry. He is now a freelance writer, an adjunct faculty member at Mesa College and theater critic for San Diego CityBeat magazine. He possesses an MFA in English from San Diego State University and a BA in journalism from the University of Southern California. His reviews are achived on his website davidcoddon.com
Ruth Lepper has been reviewing plays throughout San Diego County for the past 30 years. She has had feature articles published in international, national and regional publications, and has been on staff for several local newspapers over the years. She is currently a free-lance writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune and North County Times. Her entertainment column, “The Play’s the Thing,” is published regularly in the Ramona Home Journal and Julian Journal news magazines.
Bill Eadie reviews theatre for SanDiegoStory.com and TalkinBroadway.com. He is also a professor of journalism and media studies at San Diego State University, where he coordinates the undergraduate media studies major. Bill earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication at UCLA, where he studied reviewing with Robert Kirsch, then book critic for The Los Angeles Times. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in communication at Purdue University. He’s had an academic career that’s included serving as editor of the Journal of Applied Communication Research and the Western Journal of Communication. He is the current editor of the latter journal, and he is responsible for peer reviews of scholarship appearing in volumes published between 2012 and 2014. Bill has a long connection to the San Diego theatre scene, having seen his first professional production at the Old Globe (“King Richard III,” directed by Allen Fletcher) in the early 1960s, and he had a 25-year consecutive run of seeing at least one Old Globe play per season, despite living outside San Diego. Bill has directed and performed in local amateur theatre productions, and he sings with two community choruses.
Native San Diegan Jean Lowerison has been watching theater for (mumble, mumble) years – since Starlight and the Old Globe were all San Diego had in theater companies – and writing about film and theater for the past decade. A Berkeley graduate and college librarian for (mumble, mumble) years. She is an enthusiastic chorister, currently singing with the La Jolla Symphony Chorus. A favorite appearance was a chorus role in the opera “Dido and Aeneas.” She reviews theater (and sometimes film) for the online San Diego Gay and Lesbian News (sdgln.com) as well as San Diego UpTown News and San Diego Downtown News.