February 8th — 7:00 PM
Excerpts from Notes From the Field: Doing Time in Education; A work-in-progress
Includes a facilitated public conversation
Presented by Anna Deavere Smith
Philadelphia Theatre Company presents MacArthur Award-winning actress, playwright, and educator Anna Deavere Smith in a special presentation of selected excerpts from her latest work in progress, Notes From the Field: Doing Time in Education, at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre.
Notes From the Field: Doing Time in Education is comprised of material collected through Smith’s interviews in several cities, including Philadelphia, with more than 100 individuals who are affected by the “school-to-prison pipeline,” which pushes children out of the classroom into the criminal justice system to create a lost generation of youth from poor communities.
In Act I, Smith displays striking portraits of those affected by the pipeline. She captures the dynamics of a rapidly shifting social issue through her trademark performance technique of performing those she has interviewed verbatim.
Act II belongs to the audience. As Smith’s goal is to enhance civic engagement around the issue of disenfranchised youth, she has created this opportunity for the audience to participate in a facilitated dialogue. She invites the audience to join her in accepting the challenge of being active agents of change.
PTC, with support from the Wyncote Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, hosted a residency for Ms. Smith in 2014 where she interviewed close to thirty subjects and met with key civic leaders. This past summer, she performed a fuller version of the play at Berkeley Repertory Theatre.
“This is a broader problem that is linked to poverty, and the question is how do we help people become productive citizens?” said Smith. “Theatre has the opportunity to really draw more people in, and, particularly, to a place in their heart where they might just make an adjustment about how they think about things. It is also a convening place where people who would otherwise be strangers can share ideas about how to make their city and their nation better.”
Anna Deavere Smith appeared at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre in Let Me Down Easy in 2011, for which she won the Barrymore Award for Best Actress, and she helped kick off Philadelphia Theatre Company’s Theatre Masters Series last season. She is arguably most recognizable in popular culture as Nancy McNally, national security advisor on NBC’s long-running hit The West Wing and as Gloria Akalitus on Showtime’s current hit series Nurse Jackie. The recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Award, Smith’s work blends theatrical art, social commentary, journalism and intimate musings. Twilight: Los Angeles received two Tony nominations, an OBIE, Drama Desk Award, and a Special Citation from the New York Drama Critics Circle, and Fires in the Mirror, examining a race riot in Crown Heights, Brooklyn (1991), when age-old racial tensions between black and Jewish neighbors exploded, received an OBIE Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She was the 2013 recipient of the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize awarded to “a man or a woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life.” She is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees, including those from Juilliard, The University of Pennsylvania, Arcadia, Northwestern, Williams College, Radcliffe, Haverford College, Bryn Mawr College, Barnard, Spelman, The John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and many more.
Join us on February 8th as she highlights an incredible topic in this powerful and sensational performance.
“Smith is magnificent – with each role, she wants you to feel their pain, share their anguish, frustration, and outrage.” – San Francisco Examiner
“One of the best theatre experiences of 2015.” – Charles McNulty, The Los Angeles Times