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UC San Diego Grad Returns With Dark Comedy ‘Kill Local’

A poster for the play

Credit: La Jolla Playhouse

Above: A poster for the play "Kill Local" at the La Jolla Playhouse.

UC San Diego Grad Returns With Dark Comedy 'Kill Local'


Mat Smart, playwright, "Kill Local"


Playwright Mat Smart is tackling a big question in his latest play, "Kill Local," at the La Jolla Playhouse: Are there aspects of ourselves that are impossible to change?

But while most of Smart's plays have been grounded dramas, "Kill Local" focuses on a family of female assassins, making the comedy violently dark. Smart said he was inspired by an image in his head of a man tied to a chair and a woman with a gun, which is how the show starts.

"I don’t usually write violent stuff. Usually it’s about love and the travels I go on," he said. "But I wanted to try something outside my comfort zone. I didn’t know where it would go from there, but I was riding the wave of that image."

Smart graduated from UC San Diego's MFA program in 2004 and has since traveled the world, visiting all 50 states and all seven continents (including a three-month stint as a janitor at McMurdo Station in Antarctica). He grew up in a Chicago suburb and his physicist father worked at nearby Fermilab, one of the most powerful particle accelerators in the world. He remembers visiting the lab on weekends and playing near a chamber kept incredibly cold with the help of high-powered magnets.

"We could staple a string to a piece of paper and put paper clips around the edges and fly it like a kite," Smart said. "But we also talked about big questions, like how the universe works. I didn’t go into science, but I ask similarly large questions."

Smart joins KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday to discuss his inspirations and how what UC San Diego training has stuck with him the most.

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