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Derived from interviews with a wide range of people who experienced or observed New York's 1991 Crown Heights racial riots, Fires in The Mirror is as distinguished a work of commentary on current Black-White tensions as it is a work of drama.
From the award-winning actor and playwright Anna Deavere Smith, two teeming, pungent cross-sections of the American experience. In the provocative and at times bitterly funny playHouse Arrest,Smith examines the relationships between a succession of American presidents and their observers in and out of the press. Arcing from Clinton and Monica Lewinsky to Jefferson and Sally Hemings and alive with the voices of such real-life figures as Ed Bradley, George Stephanopoulos, Anita Hill, and Abraham Lincoln, the result is a priceless examination of the intersection of public power and private life. InPiano,Smith casts her gaze back a century as she follows the tangled lines of race, sex, and exploitation in a prosperous Cuban household on the eve of the Spanish-American War. Deftly and suspensefully, Smith tells a story of ruptured allegiances and ramifying deceptions in which no one--master or servant, friend or enemy--is what he or she pretends to be. Together these two plays are further proof that Anna Deavere Smith is one of the most searing and revelatory voices in the American theater.
From "the most exciting individual in American theater" (News-week), here is Anna Deavere Smith's inspiring yet brass-tacks advice to all aspiring artists. "I have agreed to mentor you for a period of five years. Somebody you know made the highest bid on me as an item at a charity fundraiser. My deal was that I would mentor whomever 'won' me at the auction in some way for the next five years. " In the manner of Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet, Anna Deavere Smith advises her young artist on everything from how to stay healthy to tips for building a diverse network of friends and professional alliances. Inspiring and deeply moving, this book has life-changing potential.
Anna Deavere Smith, the award-winning playwright and actor, has spent a lifetime listening--really listening--to the people around her. As a child in the segregated Baltimore of the early 1960s, Smith absorbed the words of her parents, teachers, neighbors--even train conductors--and realized that there was something more being communicated than the actual words: The conductor's voice had a mild kind of grandeur that was a cousin to the vocal tones I had heard at funerals--"Ashes-to-ashes"--and at christenings and weddings. These are words that have been said many times, but the person who speaks them understands that each time it must be said as if it matters, because it does matter. We never know what lies ahead, and we never know what just happened, and all words must house respect of those two unknowns. In Talk to Me, Smith looks back at a singular career as a seeker and interpreter of language in America, revealing the methodology behind her extraordinary search for the truth and nuances of verbal communication. For thirty years, the defining thesis of Smith's work has been that how we speak is just as important in communicating truth and identity as what we say. Everything from individual vocal tone to grammar, Smith demonstrates, can be as identifiable and revealing as a fingerprint. Her journey has taken her from the rarefied bastions of academia to riot-torn streets; she has conducted hundreds of interviews with subjects ranging from women prisoners to presidents of the United States. In 1995, her ongoing investigation led her to Washington, D. C. After all, what better place to wage an inquiry into the power of language and the language of power than in the city where "message" is a manufactured product? What happens when we as citizens accept--which we seem to be doing more and more--our chosen leaders' failure to tell the truth? And how can we know that we are hearing what Washington really has to say when everything we receive is filtered through the media? Armed with a blazing intellect and a tape recorder, Smith tackled these questions head-on, conducting more than four hundred interviews with people both inside and outside the power structure of Washington. She recorded these sessions in her trademark verbatim transcripts, which include every tic and verbal utterance of her subjects. More than thirty of these remarkable documents appear in this book, including interviews with Bill Clinton, Anita Hill, Studs Terkel, George Bush, Mike McCurry, and Helen Thomas. After five years of searing investigation into the world of the politicians, spin doctors, and power brokers who are steering the course of our country from inside the beltway, Smith has come away with a revelatory assessment--by turns devastating and hopeful--of the lexicon of power and politics in America. Talk to Me is a landmark contribution from a woman whose pioneering insights into language speak volumes.
Anna Deavere Smith's stunning new work of "documentary theater" in which she uses verbatim the words of people who experienced the Los Angeles riots to expose and explore the devastating human impact of that event.
House Arrest describes the relations between a series of American presidents and their observers in and out of the press. Piano casts a gaze a century behind as she follows the tangled line of exploitation in Cuba at Spanish-American War.
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