The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

Celebrating the visionaries who created New York's vibrant Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theater.

Lois Smith

Lois Smith

Born on Monday, November 3, 1930

Interviewed on: Thursday, May 19, 2016
Location: Primary Stages Offices
Interviewed by: Casey Childs
Interview #66
"It was very different in the 50’s. There was a lot of new live television. Lots of plays, Broadway plays, lots."
Lois Smith Highlights
Video Length: 4 minutes, 46 seconds
Lois Smith
Video Length: 1 hour, 29 minutes

Actress Lois Smith has worked with numerous theatre companies on and off Broadway, including Playwrights Horizons, Signature Theatre, Second Stage, Manhattan Theatre Club, Lincoln Center, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Circle Repertory, and Circle in the Square. Some of Smith’s Off-Broadway acting credits include: 100 SAINTS YOU SHOULD KNOW (2007), AFTER THE REVOLUTION (2010), JOHN (2015), MARJORIE PRIME (2015), which all received several nominations, and THE WISTERIA TREES (1955), THE GLASS MENAGERIE (1956), THE VIENNA NOTES (1985), DEFYING GRAVITY (1997), HEARTLESS (2012), and THE OLD FRIENDS (2013). Lois Smith had great success with THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL (2005), receiving the following awards: a Lucille Lortel Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Leading Actress, a Drama Desk Award for Best Actress, and an OBIE Award for Best Actress.

Smith was born in Topeka but later moved with her family to Seattle, where she attended the University Of Washington School Of Drama. Around 1951, Smith moved to New York City and studied with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. Smith is a Tony-nominated actress for her work with Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre in The Grapes of Wrath (1988) and Buried Child (1996). Her film and TV credits include: East of Eden (1955), Five Easy Pieces (1970), Dead Man Walking (1995), How to Make an American Quilt (1995), Twister (1996), The Laramie Project (2002), Minority Report (2002), “True Blood,” and “The Americans.” Other Broadway productions include Time Out for Ginger (1952) and Orpheus Descending (1957).

Mentioned in Interview

Frank Galati, Arthur Penn, John Stix, Curt Dempster, Harris Yulin, Richard Nelson, Sam Shepard, Horton Foote, Second Stage, Manhattan Theatre Club, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Signature Theatre, Roundabout Theatre Company, Steppenwolf, West Side Arts, Lincoln Center Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Circle Repertory Theatre, Circle in the Square, Sheridan Square Playhouse, The Actors Studio, VIENNA NOTES, THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES, THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL, 100 SAINTS YOU SHOULD KNOW, THE ILLUSION, DEFYING GRAVITY, THE OLD FRIENDS