MacArthur "genius" and Obie-winning, actress-playwright-professor, Anna Deavere Smith, transforms herself into a cast of colorful, intriguing characters on The Eccles stage, Saturday, January 12. "An Evening with Anna Deavere Smith" features a selection of poignant, hilarious and heart-wrenching pieces from Smith's award-winning, one-woman shows. The theatrical tour-de-force begins at 7:30 p.m.
"The most exciting individual in American theater," (Newsweek), Smith has an uncanny knack for inhabiting her characters and telling the stories of people she has interviewed across the country and around the world.
As The New York Times writes, "Anna Deavere Smith is the ultimate impressionist: She does people's souls."
And it is a collection of these everyday - yet extraordinary - souls that are slated to appear on stage on January 12. Borrowing from her award-winning, one-woman plays, such as "Twilight: Los Angeles" (about the 1992 riots) and "Let Me Down Easy" (about the resilience and vulnerability of the human body), Smith performs a collection of thought-provoking and entertaining vignettes - becoming characters, ranging from a former gang member to a prestigious doctor.
Throughout her career, this actress-professor-writer has created an ever-expanding body of work that explores the American character and our multifaceted identity. As a playwright and performer, she has created a series of theatrical works entitled "On the Road: A Search for American Character," which includes the aforementioned "Twilight: Los Angeles" as well as "Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn" (which explores the 1991 clash between Jews and Blacks in the New York community). She's also written "House Arrest," a play about the mythic role that the presidency has played throughout American history.
Aside from her own plays, Smith has had mainstream roles in hits, such as "The West Wing," "Nurse Jackie," and "Philadelphia." And she has won a slew of awards - including an Obie, a New York Drama Critics and NAACP Theatre awards, plus Tony nominations. In addition to her much-touted plays, she's authored critically acclaimed books (including "Talk to Me: Listening Between the Lines" and "Letters to a Young Artists: Straight-Up Advice on Making a Life in the Arts - for Actors, Performers, Writers and Artists of Every Kind"). As a professor, she has taught at Stanford University, Carnegie Mellon and University of Southern California. She has had several artist-in-residency stints and she's received numerous honorary degrees from colleges and universities across the country.
"We are proud to welcome such a gifted, brilliant actress and thinker back to our stage," says executive director Teri Orr. "Park City Performing Arts Foundation's mission is 'to entertain, educate and illuminate.' I can't think of an individual who better embodies this vision."