Tag Archives: Anna Deavere Smith

The Final Blog: A Semester in Review

Written By: Zackarya Faci

Let me start off by saying this has been the most enjoyable course I have taken in all my four years here at the university. I was able to explore the arts and earn a new appreciation for them–something engineering students don’t often find themselves doing. I looked forward to coming to class, since we were always either doing a cool activity or taking an interesting tour, and spend my evenings in the Krannert Center. Sadly, we were not able to spend the entire semester together due to COVID-19, but I was still able to explore beautiful performances online through Digital Theatre+. Here’s a recap of the performances seen throughout the semester:

The Butterfly Lovers

The first performance we saw as a class was The Shanghai Ballet performing “The Butterfly Lovers” at the start of the Chinese New Year. I had never seen a ballet prior and was half-expecting to be bored by the event. However, that was definitely not the case. I was enamored by how well they were able to tell a story without ever saying a single word. The skillful movements and intentional lighting were enough to convey the exact emotions felt onstage.

Drumfolk

The next performance, by Step Afrika!, I enjoyed even more. They brought history to life with the their percussive talents. With a simple stage and intriguing costume design, it was easy to focus on what the performers wanted us to see.

Somi

Somi is a Jazz musician who performed some songs from her recent album. I never really listened to Jazz music before, so I am glad I attended this performance. Somi’s songs were so soothing yet powerful all at the same time. She also sang about some issues that were important to me.

Anna Deavere Smith

Seeing Smith perform was a bit of a curve ball to me. I was not sure what to expect when heading to this performance. It was not like any of the other performances we have seen; this was a one-woman show. She recreated interviews she conducted and did so with a lot of emotion. While being funny, yet serious, her impersonations of her interviewees sold the show.

Cabaret

The night of Unofficial the class attended Cabaret–which was very fitting. Cabaret was a comedic, scandalous musical set in 1930s Germany. Many scenes were risqué, but honestly it was refreshing to see a performance that was more adult-oriented. This was also the first performance I’ve seen that had subtitles above the stage–something I found very interesting.

The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice was the first performance I viewed online after in-person classes were postponed. It was a witty comedy that touched upon some serious topics. I read the play in high school so it was nice to revisit it and see how the performance compared to simply reading the play.

The Container

The Container was a very unique performance. Being performed in a shipping container with low light really set the mood for the entire performance. The choice to perform in a shipping container was ingenious, and I wish I could have been there to see it performed live. The story was already compelling and sincere as is, but being there in person would have been a whole new level of immersion.

Metamorphosis

The final performance I viewed this semester was Metamorphosis. This was definitely a wacky one. The movements by the performers were flamboyant and exaggerated–fitting with the peculiar story. The performance was also in Japanese, so I had to follow along with subtitles. Metamorphosis opened my mind to watch other forms of media that may not be in a language I understand.

Closing Thoughts

A sincere thank you goes out to Dr. Collins and Prof. Robinson. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this class, but I took away more than I could have ever asked for. They always had so much energy and never failed to brighten up my day. They also helped us explore the arts in ways a typical class could never. Thank you for helping me explore performances I probably would have never seen on my own. Thank you for making my final semester a great one! 🙂

Final Reflections: A Lovely Time

By: Jacob M Rominger

I decided to end my college career exploring what only the University of Illinois could provide: an experience exploring the culture and arts of the University’s feature facilities like the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and the Spurlock Museum. I lamented being cut short of the fun times I was having, but I am happy I got to take part. Dr. Collins and Dr. Robinson provided a course that broadened my horizons, taking me to performances I may not have otherwise. This stayed true into the pandemic as I was directed to online performances to compliment my education. My classmates were friendly and fun. My brief encounters with them are ones I treasure immensely and some of what I miss the most in this isolation we all suffer through today.

Original photo I took at the Shanghai Ballet

The Voices of Anna Deavere Smith and Julia Wolfe (Make-up)

Anna Deveare Smith and Julia Wolfe spoke at the CultureTalk at Krannert Center for Performing Arts on Wednesday, February 19th. Anna is an accomplished playwright and actress and Julia is a renown composer. Both are also well-known educators in the artist community.

Written by Weon Taek Na

My ticket to the CultureTalk with Deavere and Wolfe
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CultureTalk with Anna Deveare Smith and Julia Wolfe

Written by Zeying Lang

As an actress, playwright, and professor, Anna Deveare Smith, cares about the issues of how contemporary art confronts the crises that are emerging in the current world. This time, she brought her good friend, Julia Wolfe, a reputed musician and composer, to give this fantastic Culture Talk with the opportunities to communicate with the audience. Together, they talked about how art can be involved in dealing with the world crisis, and what possible changes that art could bring to the world.

Retrieved from https://krannertcenter.com/events/culturetalk-anna-deavere-smith-and-julia-wolfe-artists-voice-times-crisis
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A Unique For of Social Justice: Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith is a major figure in the theatre and social justice world. On February 18, 2020, she performed at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in the Colwell Playhouse. This is the most unique form of social justice advocation I have ever experienced.

By Elena Grantcharski

The basis of Anna Deavere Smith’s performance was journalism. She would interview these people, pick out the ones that spoke the most and create them into one woman shows and full fledged plays. Her one woman performance was unique and a showcase of true talent because she had no costume, no props, and no stage decorations at all. She was wearing all black and the only tool she used was her voice. She showed the true power of using your voice. However, something important that she emphasized was that she was not giving these people a voice, these people already had strong and beautiful voices, she was just popularizing their stories to a wider audience. She would preface every character with a short introduction and then word for word use her voice to speak as if she were them. It took voice imitation to a whole other level, using it not just as entertainment but also as social justice and education.

Ticket stub for Anna Deavere Smith’s Tuesday night performance at the Colwell Playhouse.
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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

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

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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