This is a special opportunity to see a workshop performance of Anna Deavere Smith's newest work in progress. "Let Me Down Easy" — a play about the resilience and fragility of the human body — is the latest installment in Ms. Smith's ongoing series of one woman shows, On The Road: A Search For American Character.
Anna Deavere Smith is an actress, playwright, and author, who has created a unique form of social theater, described as “a blend of theatrical art, social commentary, journalism, and intimate reverie." Looking at controversial events from multiple points of view, Ms. Smith's plays combine the journalistic technique of interviewing her subjects with the art of interpreting their words through her performance. She typically conducts hundreds of interviews while creating a play, then using verbatim excerpts of the interviews, she performs dozens of voices in the course of an evening. The New York Times said of her performances, “[she is] the ultimate impressionist: she does people's souls.”
Ms. Smith's first play, created and performed using this journalistic technique, Fires in the Mirror, examined racial tension between blacks and Jews that culminated in race riots in Crown Heights Brooklyn in 1991. It received numerous awards and was a runner up for the Pulitzer Prize. Twilight: Los Angeles, about the 1992 riots in that city, followed the next year to equal critical acclaim. Both are part of an ongoing series that Ms. Smith is calling On the Road: A Search for American Character. Other works in the series include House Arrest, which deals with the American presidency, and Hymn, a collaboration with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
The newest play in the series, Let Me Down Easy, was inspired by the Yale School of Medicine, where Ms. Smith was Visiting Professor and presented a performance for medical grand rounds, Rounding It Out (2000). As part of her preparation for Let Me Down Easy, she traveled to Rwanda, Uganda, and South Africa to do research on the effects of the AIDS pandemic in those countries, and on the genocide in Rwanda. She also went to New Orleans following Katrina to do interviews for the play.
Ms. Smith is University Professor at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. From 1990 to 2000, she was Ann O'Day Maples Professor of the Arts at Stanford. She has won numerous awards for her work including two TONY nominations and the MacArthur Award. In 2006, she was granted the Fletcher Fellowship for the way her work advances the legacy of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision.
Performances will be followed by a talk-back with the playwright.
To purchase tickets and for performance information, please contact:
Stanford Ticket Office
Phone: 650-725-ARTS (2787)
Stanford Ticket Office Hours: Monday-Friday, 10:00 am-5:00 pm, Saturday, Noon-4:00 pm
The Stanford Ticket Office is located on the ground floor of Tresidder Memorial Union on the Stanford University Campus.
This production is cosponsored by The School of Medicine's Office of Diversity and Leadership, the Stanford Drama Department, the Stanford Institute for Creativity in the Arts, Stanford Lively Arts, and Stanford Continuing Studies.