Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Actress, playwright and social advocate Anna Deavere Smith will present a lecture presentation entitled “Reclaiming Grace in the Face of Adversity” on Tuesday, April 11, at 7:30 p.m. in the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center.
Best known for crafting one-woman shows based on conversations with real people from all walks of life, Smith turns her interviews into scripts, transforming herself into an astonishing number of characters. The MacArthur Foundation honored Smith with the “Genius” Fellowship for creating “a new form of theatre — a blend of theatrical art, social commentary, journalism, and intimate reverie.” In 2017, she was awarded the 35th George Polk Career Award for courageous and authentic journalism.
Her breakthrough plays, Fires in the Mirror and the Tony-nominated Twilight: Los Angeles, tackle issues of race and social inequality; 2009’s Let Me Down Easy examines healthcare and the resilience and vulnerability of the human body; and her most recent work, Notes from the Field, explores the cycle of suspension from school to incarceration prevalent in low-income communities. For her multi-character plays about American social issues, Smith has been awarded the 2013 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, one of the largest and most prestigious awards in the arts, as well as the National Humanities Medal.
In addition to her groundbreaking one-woman shows, Smith has appeared in film and on television, including recurring roles on Black-ish, Nurse Jackie and The West Wing. Her film work includes Rachel Getting Married, Philadelphia and The American President.
While doing research for her play Let Me Down Easy, Anna Deavere Smith interviewed people in the United States and abroad who demonstrated grace in the face of dramatic challenges. “Reclaiming Grace in the Face of Adversity” celebrates the resilience of the human spirit, the power of kindness, the strength of imagination and hope.
Smith teaches in the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She is the founding director of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue, dedicated to supporting artists whose works address social issues and engender civic engagement.
Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 for students and youth 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased online at miac.mercyhurst.edu or by calling the box office at 814-824-3000.
Support for this program is provided in part from an Erie Arts & Culture Project Grant, made possible by community contributions to the annual Arts & Culture Campaign and the Erie Arts Endowment. The performance is also sponsored by Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. and WQLN. The 2016-17 MIAC Live season is sponsored by Cumulus Media.