Anna Deavere Smith held a story telling event that lasted approximately an hour followed by questions from the audience who were intrigued with her work. In her performance she was able to express themes that involve issues in America. This event was held on Tuesday February 18th, 2020 in the Colwell Playhouse at the Krannert Art Center.
Written by: Lydia Amezcua Ramirez
Anna Deavere Smith’s theater performance was unique in the way that she took interviews to perform real people. By this I mean that she had taken the time to sit down with people, have them share the story they wanted to convey to her, took their story, and performed it in a way that brought laughter to the audience yet still conveyed a specific theme. At the beginning of each new theme she told the audience what the title of each story that she would present would be. This is how I could tell that she presented a new person, based on the different titles. Also, at the end of each story she would say thank you and the audience would clap.
Another thing to note about her performance was that she was dressed in a simplistic manner and the set was also set up that way. This is important because she was still able to indicate character without any extra garments to wear. All she needed to present her characters were her use of voice and body gestures. For each new theme she presented she would use a different type of voice to depict that character. As for body gestures, she would also keep it simple and use body movements that indicated the character she was in.
In her performance, Anna D. Smith was able to represent different aspects of the American past through interview in the way that she selected her themes. The people that she interviewed had a specific theme to share which she wanted to convey surroudning issues of community, character, and diversity in America from the past. For example, she had portrayed a character of a reverend during the civil rights movement. Her themes relate to the present due to the issues that occurred back then in which can still be seen today but less problematic as they were back then.
The way that this performance is different from the news or documentary films is that those are matters of factual detail and given events with names and dates. In Anna Smith’s performance she used theater to convey her characters through acting without giving away the names of the persons she interviewed for the stories. This was a creative performance on her part, especially when she was able to have the audience constantly laughing.