Daily Archives: February 20, 2020

Anna Deavere Smith; Portraying American Identities

On Tuesday, February 18, 2020 at 7:30 pm Anna Deavere Smith performed Snapshots: Portraits of a World in Transition. Her performance consisted of acting out several of her interviews with people around America, bringing her interviews to life.

By: Daniel Plata

Waiting for the performance to start
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Anna Deavere Smith’s Stories from the States

Tyler Tubbs


Anna Deavere Smith, known chiefly for her unique solo act in which she reenacts interviews that she’s collected from all across the U.S., travelled to the Krannert to share her stories on “Getting Through the Day.” Her act requires nothing but her notes and a microphone, so the stage was set rather simply.

Anna’s compilations of stories guide the performance toward a central theme or idea. In her performance at the Krannert, she used interviews with countless individuals on their various ideals of getting through the day. Between personas, Anna often took time to pause and preface the next interview. Another way to distinguish portions of the show is to pay attention to the expert voice inflections and impersonations.

This incredibly unique performance distinguished itself from traditional documentaries by being a rather interactive show. Anna opened for the audience to participate on multiple occasions, once to allow for the chorus to “Amazing Grace” to ring through the entire auditorium. At the end of the show, she requested that the lights in the audience be turned on as she began a Q and A session right in the theater. This unique level of interaction and mode of storytelling puts all of Smith’s shows in a novel category of performances.

Thank you for returning to blog! I can’t wait to add another to the stack following the march 6th performance of Cabaret, so I hope you find your way back once more!

New Kind of Storyteller, Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith, revered as a genius who created ‘a new form of theater’ held a performance at the Colwell Playhouse in Krannert Center on Tuesday, February 18.

By Aejin Shin

People waiting before the show began

Anna Deavere Smith. Who is she? According to her program profile, she is an actor, playwright, and educator. These days, thanks to the FAA110 class, I am watching many performances at the krannert center. Some of them I was able to understand the content by seeing the title of the show (like Shanghai Ballet and Drumfolk), but others were impossible to grasp until I saw the show, like Somi. This performance is in the latter case. Until I entered the concert hall, I had no idea what kind of show I was going to see today. Nor did I know if she was a singer, comedian, or even an actor, because I had no background knowledge of her. However, it took only five minutes to fall into her charms.

The appearance of the stage before the show began

This was definitely a new kind of show. There were no fancy stage settings or costumes for the performance, nor were there any other performers. However, she had the ability to dominate the stage by herself. She interviewed others, then recorded their voices and changed the recordings into a performance.

Tickets and pamphlets

Anna Deavere Smith’s performance made her show very special. It was completely different from news stories, documentaries, and dramas that tell only objective truths. She delivered to the audience what she wanted to convey through her acting. Her performance was quite different from any other performances that I’ve seen at the Krannert Center. Her performance was neither news, nor drama, nor stand-up comedy, but humorously allowed people to know the exact truth. She tries to express Americans’ diverse opinions on various social issues. She has already interviewed more than 2,000 people so far. Smith acts out a variety of people by making variations in her voice. She describes people with gestures as well as her voice.

A portrait of Anna Deavere Smith

She also communicated with the audience through questions and answers after the performance. I didn’t fully understand the stories, but I thought it was wonderful to have a moment like this. She could use the audience’s questions as more material for her next performance.

One Mic, Many Voices

By Veronica Y. Gonzalez
Event Program
Stage before the performance began.
Sign before entering the theater

On February 18, 2020 I had the pleasure of seeing Anna Deavere Smith perform at The Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. This performance was unique because it wasn’t quite standup comedy but it wasn’t quite a play either. It was a mix of both. She incorporated telling her story and doing impressions of people she interviewed into her performance. I could tell when she was doing a new person because she would try and imitate their voice and their mannerisms. I liked how she didn’t use different costumes or different settings because it made us focus on her talents. We were able to use our imagination to try to envision the people she interviewed. There was one person onstage but we heard the stories and voices of many people.

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Getting Through The “Not So Typical” Day

Anna Deavere Smith performed on February 18, 2020 at the Colwell Playhouse in the Krannert Center for Performing Arts. With her, she brought an interesting form of story-telling and impersonations in a bit she called “Forms of Protests”–also know as, “Getting Through the Day”.

Written by Zackarya Faci

Smith’s performance consisted of a myriad of interviews from people across America. She would take the interviews she conducted and interpret them in a way she could present to the audience. Each story came with an impersonation of the interviewee–which helped sell the emotions the individuals were feeling at the time. Smith would use different voices, interjections, and stutter; all these aspects made it feel as though we, the audience, were conducting the interview and Smith was replying to us.

The ticket stub and program as the audience waits for Smith to take the stage.
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Q&A with Anna Deavere Smith and Julia Wolfe (Make-Up)

Anna Deavere Smith is a playwright, actor, and educator while Julia Wolfe is a composer and educator. Both came out tonight to speak at our CultureTalk about the challenges of our time.

By Moises Sedano

CultureTalk, here at UIUC, is a Q&A event which fosters awareness and understanding of the relationships between the arts and society.

The set up for the CultureTalk Q&A session.
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A story night with Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith, an educator, an actress, and a storyteller, gave a unique performance on Feb. 18th, 2020 at the Krannert Centre for the Performing Arts. This is a new and creative form of theatre, by performing portrayals of people she has listened to and interviewed, demonstrated what she calls the “complex identities of America”.

By Jiaxuan Meng

Profile of Anna Deavere Smith
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Impressions by Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith takes her audience on a journey through her colorful impressions of interviews that show how different individuals are “getting through the day.”

Event: https://krannertcenter.com/events/anna-deavere-smith

Her very plain stage,
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The real listener of the Americans– Anna Deavere Smith

Famous playwright, actor, and educator, Anna Deavere Smith, brought her performance to Colwell Playhouse at Krannert Center on Tuesday, February 18. She was praised for creating ” a new form of theatre– a blend of art, social commentary, and journalism.”

Written by Bingchen Li

If you ask me, what is the last show I will watch before I die, I will definitely answer Anna Deavere Smith’s performance. During her performance, she does not have fancy costumes, props, and other performers, what she uses for the performance, is her voice. She interviewed different people first, and then recorded them and turned the conversations into performance, by herself. It is amazing that she can imitate those people perfectly that you can clearly know the emotional condition of the character, the age of the character, and the views from the characters.

No fancy props and stage setting in her performance
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Getting Through the Day with Anna Deveare Smith

Anna uses her impersonation skills to deliver the unique stories of others struggling to make sense of life.
-By Daniel Holley

The stage is set for the one woman show as the audience finds their seats.

Anna brought a unique performance to the Krannert Center as she entertained the crowd not with song or dance, but rather her incredible ability to tell the stories of others. With years worth of interviews from a diverse group of people recorded, she was able to present these characters to the audience as parts of a greater story. Today’s theme of “getting through the day” was showcased with a carefully crafted blend of humor and intensity as Anna impersonated a few of her interviewees. She retold their stories of challenges large and small while imitating their accents and mannerisms, ensuring the audience felt the emotions as much as they heard the words.

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