NEWS

INSTAGRAM

INSTAGRAM

IN THE PRESS

NEW HIRING OPPORTUNITY

POSITION: Producer/Thought Partner     

Reports to: Anna Deavere Smith
Employment period: ASAP 2022-2023
Classification: Full-time exempt
Location: New York City, with extensive travel

ANNA DEAVERE SMITH AND THE PIPELINE: GIRLS PROJECTS

In her acclaimed play and subsequent HBO film, Notes From the Field, playwright/activist/actor Anna Deavere Smith examined how young people from impoverished communities must contend with the possibility of incarceration from very early in their lives. 

Continuing her investigation of juvenile justice, Anna is now turning her lens specifically to girls and young women. She and her team will immerse themselves in communities across the US to conduct research. The end result will be a theater piece, a series of essays, and other creative projects that reveal how girls in contemporary America fit into ecosystems of poverty.

POSITION OVERVIEW:

A pivotal position, the selected candidate will work closely and in tandem with Anna Deavere Smith to discuss, strategize, visualize, and communicate the “Pipeline: Girls” project and related work. The position supports and partners with Anna both creatively and administratively. 

Creative projects require a living breathing process. The Producer must be flexible and nimble, with a willingness to shift and re-work if/as necessary, so that the projects have room to grow. 

KEY RESPONSIBILITIES:

Work as a thought partner with Ms. Smith on all of her priority ADS Projects, especially The Pipeline Project Chapter 2: Girls, but possibly also including Lyric Opera of Chicago, Project with Office of Global Programs, New York University, as well as writing and other creative assignments.

Act as a mature, proactive, sensitive, and thoughtful “fixer,” driving a route to success by innately understanding the needs of others, especially across cultural differences. Exercise deference while knowing what has to be done to make things happen.

Develop relationships with institutions and/or venues for workshops and, working with Ms. Smith and the Company Manager, act as the main collaborating partner/liaison with all the venue partners.

Proactively mentor and guide staff to ensure an esprit de corps; monitor and react to emotional issues that might arise.

Represent Ms. Smith with production companies, theaters, and donors as needed. Host donors as necessary.

Work closely with organizations, artists, intellectuals, support staff, and representatives involved in and/or partnering on ADS projects.

Act as a spokesperson when necessary.

POSITION REQUIREMENTS:

  • Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s degree, or equivalent preferred
  • Extensive experience in a similar position
  • Strong written and verbal communications skills
  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Excellent listening skills
  • Excellent people skills
  • Entrepreneurial spirit
  • Sense of humor
  • Experience working in environments of racial diversity
  • Ability to travel to different locations for 2-4 weeks at a time
  • Ability to work independently, but also to interact and be a thought partner

TRAITS AND CHARACTERISTICS:

  • Experience working directly with performing artists or other artists preferred
  • Dedication to the mission of social justice and equity
  • Maturity, resourcefulness, flexibility, proactiveness, the ability to juggle many projects
  • Vision and imagination
  • Ability to remain calm under pressure
  • Patience and flexibility
  • Respectful and a willingness to adjust to what different cultures require as signs of respect

COMPENSATION:

  • up to $125,000 per year 
  • Health benefits are not included in the compensation package

ABOUT THE ADS WORK ETHOS:

In joining Anna’s team, one is supporting the creative vision and mission of an individual artist. As this is a project, not an institution, the work must be accomplished in the course of 18 months, not years. The work is concentrated and intensive. It requires intense collaboration, information sharing, and transparency. An aptitude for experimentation and the ability to adjust as methodologies evolve are essential. One also must feel comfortable with being uncomfortable. One must be both empathic and resilient. We will necessarily be exposed to content that is disturbing. 

Staff are expected to exemplify kindness, generosity, hospitality, compassion, good manners, courtesy, and respect. We are a multicultural organization. We are highly interactive with people of all social classes, nationalities, races and beliefs. We are very “outward focused” and strive to combine community service with our research process.

Above all, it is required that you be flexible, trustworthy and communicative.

Smith has created new forms. All of her projects have required new and innovative ways of working. Moreover, this is a dynamic time of societal and technological revision. It has a great impact in the realms of arts, culture, education, and social justice. Our work is dedicated to productive change. It is experimental in nature. We cannot anticipate all needs. Change can only happen when everyone is dedicated to it on a daily, if not molecular, level. While we will respect the parameters of all jobs as outlined, we are looking for a team of individuals who are creative problem solvers and whose daily mantra is “How can I be helpful?”

HOW TO APPLY:

Send cover letter, resume, and any other relevant material you feel support your application, including three (3) writing samples to: Debbie Chinn, Managing Director: debbie@annadeaveresmith.org

Deadline to apply: March 4, 2022

NEW HIRING OPPORTUNITY

POSITION: General Manager
 
Reports to: Managing Director
Employment period: March 2022 
Classification: Contracted position, 12 months
Location: San Francisco Bay Area or New York City
Compensation: $84,000/year ($7,000/month)

ANNA DEAVERE SMITH AND THE PIPELINE: GIRLS PROJECTS:

In her acclaimed play and subsequent HBO film, Notes from the Field, playwright/activist/actor Anna Deavere Smith examined how young people from impoverished communities must contend with the possibility of incarceration from very early in their lives. 

Continuing her investigation of juvenile justice, Anna is now turning her lens specifically to girls and young women.  She and her team will immerse themselves in communities across the US to conduct research.  The end result will be a theatre piece, a series of essays and other creative projects that reveal how girls in contemporary America fit into ecosystems of poverty.

ABOUT THE ADS WORK ETHOS:

In joining Anna’s team, one is supporting the creative vision and mission of an individual artist. This phase of the project must be accomplished in 18 months. The work is concentrated, intensive, and requires collaboration, information sharing, and transparency. An aptitude for experimentation and the ability to adjust as methodologies evolve are essential. One must be both empathic and resilient. 

We strive to combine community service with our research process. Staff are expected to exemplify kindness, generosity, hospitality, compassion, courtesy, and respect. We are a multicultural organization.  We are highly interactive with people of all social classes, nationalities, races, and beliefs. 

POSITION OVERVIEW:

This critical position, overseeing all administrative and operational aspects of Anna Deavere Smith’s Pipeline: Girls project, as well as other related projects, will work closely with the Managing Director on all business-related functions of this complex multi-state, multi-dimensional work. 

Working with contractors and vendors, the position will oversee multiple functions including preparation and issuance of artistic and production personnel contracts, Human Resources including Hiring/Payroll, Insurance, Finance and Budgets, Support for Fundraising, Legal & Compliance.

This essential and diverse work requires someone with a breadth of experience and knowledge of the above listed functions.

KEY RESPONSIBILITIES:

Insurance Matters: With bookkeeper, interact with Broker on policy limits and adjustments including overseeing annual workers comp payroll audit, auto liability, general liability, etc. Process all Certificates of Insurance needs for the project partners and vendors, preparation of manuals for both Workshop personnel and partners and all claims processing.

Hiring/Payroll/Reimbursements: create personnel manual, contracts and oversight of hire forms, per diem management, and background checks.

Finance/Budget/Development support: With bookkeeper, prepare and customize budgets for grants applications and reports and donors, and oversee reconciliations of Donor Perfect, NYFA, Quickbooks.  

Legal Oversight: Engage with attorney on legal matters as directed by the Managing Director, Prepare contracts and hire letters in compliance with State Labor law requirements; Compliance with federal, state, local requirements and ordinances.

Review and advise on all significant institutional or employment policies, benefits packages, vendor agreements, etc.

Arrange for all legally required anti-harassment and anti-racism training.

HR matters in collaboration with Managing Director.

Position Requirements:

Bachelor’s degree and 5+ years of relevant professional experience in non-profit general or production management and/ or arts administration. An advanced degree, such as an MBA or MFA, is preferred, as is a significant history operating at a senior management level.

Demonstrated ability to develop/manage complex budgets.

Experience improving existing systems, developing new processes for increased efficiency/productivity.

Excellent organizational skills, recordkeeping, attention to detail.

Proven interpersonal skills, understanding of artists, excellent written/verbal communication skills.

Demonstrated ability to take initiative, proactively manage multiple priorities with tight/changing deadlines, work independently and collaboratively as part of team.

Exceptionally strong fiscal management skills.

Experience negotiating venue contracts.

Exceptionally strong computer skills and technical proficiency (Operating systems, Office suites, Spreadsheets, Accounting and Fundraising software, etc.).

Prioritization and ability to balance multiple projects simultaneously.

Exemplary judgment and discretion in dealing with creatives, funders, donors, community partners

Sense of humor.

Smith has created new forms.  All of her projects have required new and innovative ways of working.  Moreover, this is a dynamic time of societal and technological revision.  It has a great impact in the realms of arts, culture, education, and social justice. Our work is dedicated to productive change.  It is experimental in nature.  We cannot anticipate all needs.  Change can only happen when everyone is dedicated to it on a daily if not molecular level. While we will respect the parameters of all jobs as outlined, we are looking for a team of individuals who are creative problem solvers and whose daily mantra is “How can I be helpful?” 

HOW TO APPLY:

Send cover letter, resume and any other relevant material you feel supports your application, including 3 (three) writing samples to: Debbie Chinn, Managing Director: debbie@annadeaveresmith.org

Deadline to apply: February 10, 2022

NEW HIRING OPPORTUNITY

POSITION: Administrative Manager

Reports to: Managing Director
Employment period: now through December 31, 2022
Classification: temporary full-time, exempt
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Salary: up to $60,000 per year

ANNA DEAVERE SMITH AND THE PIPELINE: GIRLS PROJECTS 

In her acclaimed play and subsequent HBO film, Notes from the Field, playwright/activist/actor Anna Deavere Smith examined how young people from impoverished communities must contend with the possibility of incarceration from very early in their lives. 

Continuing her investigation of juvenile justice, Anna is now turning her lens specifically to girls and young women. She and her team will immerse themselves in communities across the US to conduct research. The result will be a theatre piece, a series of essays and other creative projects that reveal how girls in contemporary America fit into ecosystems of poverty.

ABOUT THE ADS WORK ETHOS

In joining Anna’s team, one is supporting the creative vision and mission of an individual artist. This phase of the project must be accomplished in 18 months. This work is concentrated, intensive, and requires collaboration, information sharing, and transparency. An aptitude for experimentation and the ability to adjust as methodologies evolve are essential. One must be both empathic and resilient.

We strive to combine community service with our research process. Staff are expected to exemplify kindness, generosity, hospitality, compassion, courtesy, and respect. We are a multicultural organization. We are highly interactive with people of all social classes, nationalities, races and beliefs. 

POSITION OVERVIEW:

This is a full-time position, which may require some travel. This position will provide direct executive support to the Managing Director on all aspects of the work including fundraising, grants management, event planning, financial and systems oversight and maintenance, and other administrative and operational needs. 

This role requires familiarity with the work of Anna Deavere Smith.

KEY RESPONSIBILITIES:

Provide administrative executive support to the Managing Director.

Operations: Create and maintain the organization’s filing systems, reconcile monthly with Pipeline’s accounting department, update and renew all organizational documentation, and help manage onboarding of staff. 

Development: Maintain Pipeline’s donor database (DonorPerfect), generate and manage all project related tracking sheets and mailing lists, prep and send all donor related materials, documents, and mailings.

Grants: Create and maintain grant tracking sheet, research current grants and new potential funders, maintain grant calendar, and provide support during the grant submission and reporting process. 

Events: Assist with the logistics and execution of all special events (fundraising and networking events).

Media: Update and maintain the project’s website, interface with web engineer, and edit project related media (photos, video, and recordings). 

Work closely with all other staff including the General Manager (Finance/Bookkeeper) particularly on submission of credit card receipts and reimbursement requests.

POSITION REQUIREMENTS:

Bachelor’s Degree

3-5+ years’ experience working in arts administration and/or development required

Strong written and verbal communications skills

High level of proficiency with applications such as Google Suites/Workspace, Dropbox, Microsoft office, Zoom and digital media editing software. 

Ability to quickly learn new skills: technical and interpersonal

Experience managing development related databases and grant portals

Experience with event management and event software is helpful 

Must have strong organizational skills

Ability to work in a fast-paced environment

Excellent listening skills

Sense of humor and creative energy

Experience working in environments of racial diversity

Ability to travel to different locations for 2 – 3 weeks at a time

Ability to work independently but also to interact and follow instruction

Must be tech savvy 

TRAITS AND CHARACTERISTICS

Experience working directly with performing artists or other artists preferred

Dedication to the mission of social justice and equity

Maturity, resourcefulness, flexibility, proactiveness, the ability to juggle many projects

Can critically think and problem solve under pressure

Strong attention to detail, excellent written and verbal communication skills

Respectful and a willingness to adjust to what different cultures require as signs of respect

HOW TO APPLY:

Send cover letter, resume and any other relevant material you feel supports your application, including 3 (three) writing samples to: Debbie Chinn, Managing Director: debbie@annadeaveresmith.org

Deadline to apply: January 30, 2022

WNYC Studios presents: Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Haiti and International Aid

Haiti’s recent tragedies revives a conversation about disaster, aid, and how people recover. Then, a discussion about perspective on the 30th anniversary of the Crown Heights riots.

After a 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti’s southwestern region, many of us were left wondering — what does it mean to best support Haiti through disaster? And if the global community has donated so much humanitarian aid to prevent devastation, why does it keep happening? Is Haiti cursed?

Guest host Nadege Green confronts history, anti-blackness and the way forward with Dr. Marlene Daut, professor and Associate Director of the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies at the University of Virginia. Listen as they explore the origins of Haiti’s image as a “cursed” country and how that image is rooted in anti-blackness.

Then, we turn to a conversation with playwright Anna Deveare Smith about the unrest that gripped Crown Heights, Brooklyn almost 30 years ago. How are social narratives shaped, and can we benefit from a shared one that celebrates difference?

For the full episode presented by WNYC Studios visit their website here.

The Seven Last Words of Christ

Anna Deavere Smith’s recitation of the Seven Last Words of Christ. Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, CA.

The celebrated ensemble performs Joseph Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ, the composer’s reflection on Good Friday, interspersed with reflections by Anna Deavere Smith; Dr. Sandra Montes, Dean of Chapel at Union Theological Seminary; Uriah Kim, President, Graduate Theological Union; and the Very Rev. Dr. Alan Jones, Dean Emeritus of Grace Cathedral.

The Seven Last Words of Christ by Joseph Haydn was commissioned in 1786 for the Good Friday service at Oratorio de la Santa Cueva (Holy Cave Oratory) in Cádiz, Spain. The seven main meditative sections—labelled “sonatas” and all slow—are framed by a slow Introduction and a fast “Earthquake” conclusion, for a total of nine movements. At the request of his publisher, the composer in 1787 produced a version for string quartet: Haydn’s Opus 51. This is the form in which the music is most often heard today.

Anna D. Smith & Michelle Obama

First Lady Michelle Obama greets Anna Deavere Smith in the Cross Hall of the White House following the “Remarkable Women in DC” dinner, March 30, 2011.

(Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson) This photograph is provided by THE WHITE HOUSE as a courtesy and may be printed by the subject(s) in the photograph for personal use only. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not otherwise be reproduced, disseminated or broadcast, without the written permission of the White House Photo Office. This photograph may not be used in any commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

On the Road

These are a few pictures which were taken during Pipeline’s creation. They represent the locations and people that were encountered along the way while in California during this phase of the project.

Home of the Yurok Tribe. Northern California, Yurok Indian Reservation
Working with a Kindergarten teacher while in Stockton, California

Finding Truth in Doubt with Anna Deavere Smit‪h‬

Every week Chris Hayes asks the big questions that keep him up at night. How do we make sense of this unprecedented moment in world history? Why is this (all) happening? Tonight he covers these tough questions with a special guest, critically acclaimed playwright and actress Anna Deavere Smith who crafts groundbreaking art at the intersection of journalism and theater. Listen to the podcast here.

Anna Deavere Smith On What It Takes To Bring About Change

NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly talks with actress and writer Anna Deavere Smith about her essay, The Last of the Nice Negro Girls, which is part of The Atlantic’s Inheritance project. Check it out here.

And check out a deeper discussion on The Last of the Nice Negro Girls, forging Black identity, and empowering our defiance with The Inheritance Project presented by The Atlantic.

THE ATLANTIC: We Were the Last of the Nice Negro Girls

In 1968, history found us at a small women’s college, forging our Black identity and empowering our defiance.

My high-school counselor at Western High School, an all-girls public school in Baltimore, was a rotund white woman with a pleasant but less than energetic countenance. She was wholly absent from my education until one day, after rumblings about affirmative action in colleges had begun shaking the ground that Negroes traversed to higher education, she suddenly summoned my mother and me for a meeting. My mother, a veteran teacher in Baltimore’s public schools, took the afternoon off. We sat in the high-ceilinged counseling office, prim and proper as can be, while the counselor showed us one pamphlet after another with images of white girls in sweater sets relaxing in bucolic environments.

To continue reading, please click here.

Our Body Politic!

January 29, 2021: The challenges of distributing the Covid-19 vaccine equitably, Black identity in the White House and beyond, and our weekly roundtable unpacks the first set of Biden-Harris executive orders.

Actor and playwright Anna Deavere Smith analyzes the image of Vice President Kamala Harris in the White House. Author Kenya Hunt reflects on Black female identity around the world in her book, Girl Gurl Grrrl: On Womanhood and Belonging in the Age of Black Girl Magic. Plus, political journalist Errin Haines of The 19th and Jess Morales-Rocketto of the National Domestic Workers Alliance get into the swift actions of the Biden-Harris administration, the white supremacy problem within law enforcement, and the future of the Republican party.

To continue reading, please click here.

WHAT KAMALA HARRIS BRINGS TO THE WHITE HOUSE

Presented within TIME magazine’s year-end issue, Anna Deavere Smith’s essay on Kamala Harris.

When Kamala Harris becomes the Vice President of the United States in January, she will be, as has been frequently noted, a first—the first woman, the first Black person and the first Indian-American person to hold this office. But while it is worth celebrating that the top leadership of the U.S. will better mirror its people, it is important to remember that simply naming these identities does not tell us all we need to know. It’s within the particulars of her lived experience as a Black and Indian-American woman that we can truly understand who she is today and what she brings with her to the White House. To continue reading please click the link below:

To continue reading, please click here.

Anna Deavere Smith in conversation at SigSpace

On May 13, 2020, Anna Deavere Smith joined Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital President Arthur Gianelli for a conversation hosted by Signature Theatre, as part of their online SigSpace Summit. Watch the video of their dialogue about Covid-19, public health, and the future of live arts. 

Anna Deavere Smith’s Notes from the Field

Anna Deavere Smith’s Notes from the Field will be available in print on May 21st, 2019.

In creating this, her latest play, Smith interviewed over two hundred and fifty people in the United States and abroad. Twenty of those individuals are rendered in the final published script; individuals who have lived and fought the system that pushes students of color out of the classroom and into prisons. (As Smith has put it: “Rich kids get mischief, poor kids get pathologized and incarcerated.”) Using people’s own words, culled from interviews and speeches, Smith introduces us to Rev. Jamal Harrison Bryant, who eulogized Freddie Gray; Niya Kenny, a high school student who confronted a violent police deputy; activist Bree Newsome, who took the Confederate flag down from the South Carolina State House grounds; and many others. Their voices bear powerful witness to a great iniquity of our time—and call us to action with their accounts of resistance and hope.

Notes from the Field is available for pre-order now at Penguin Random House. It will also be available as an e-book and an audiobook.

NFTF book cover

 

Anna Deavere Smith interviews Esperanza Spalding at the Strand in NYC

Anna Deavere Smith interviews Esperanza Spalding about her record 12 Little Spells. This conversation was recorded before a live audience at The Strand bookstore in New York City on May 17, 2019.

Anna Deavere Smith named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Induction_Mem_Hall_for_PR

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences recently announced the election of its new members for 2019; recognizing the outstanding achievements of individuals in academia, the arts, business, government, and public affairs. Anna Deavere Smith is deeply honored to be included in this year’s class.

 

Signature Theater NYC Sets Anna Deavere Smith Plays for New Season

56816026_10155754700837574_350297970748424192_n

 

For its 2019-2020 season, the theater will revive Smith’s plays Fires in the Mirror and Twilight: Los Angeles, directed by Saheem Ali and Taibi Magar respectively.

Anna Deavere Smith interviewed by the Chicago Tribute about her “Worst Moment”

“This story will tell you something about Hollywood and the business — and race relations and race awareness in America.”

Smith shared with the Chicago Tribune some memories from the 1970s, when she was starting out as an actress. Read the complete interview here.

 

ct-1554394257-s8pet4e4o6-snap-image

Anna Deavere Smith performs Bryan Stevenson at Emerson Collective’s Demo Day

In December, Emerson Collective invited Anna Deavere Smith to be a part of their Demo Day. In the video below, taken that day, Smith portrays Bryan Stevenson, of the Equal Justice Initiative.

Smith interviewed Mr. Stevenson last spring as part of the Pipeline Project, and some of his stories were included in the production of ‘Notes from the Field’ which ran in London that summer.

Anna Deavere Smith from Emerson Collective on Vimeo.

Anna Deavere Smith and The American Scene at the National Museum of American History

am_scene_home_b750

The Smithsonian has captured the insights of these 33 influential leaders in the entertainment industry. The project is leading up to a 20 year exhibition at the Museum that will take a moving and provocative look at the history of theater, movies, sports, and broadcast media — and how both performers and audiences express what it means to be American.

Read excerpts from the interview here.

 

Anna Deavere Smith exclusive video interview for Gold Derby

Says Smith, “Where there’s hidden hate, there’s hidden love.” Read more here.

Anna Deavere Smith is live on Poetry in America

Senator John McCain recounts how he and his fellow prisoners of war tapped poems between their cells for comfort and distraction during their years of captivity in Vietnam. Learn about his relationship to poetry as Poetry in America interprets Gwendolyn Brooks’ “To Prisoners” with Anna Deavere Smith, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Li-Young Lee, and Innocence Project exonerees. Watch at poetryinamerica.org.

Poetry in America, Episode 9: To Prisoners [FULL EPISODE] from Poetry in America on Vimeo.

New film sounds the alarm on those caught in the so-called school-to-prison pipeline

February 24, 2018

WATCH MORE

Anna Deavere Smith: The First Time a White Person Wrote ‘Love’ to Me

March 13, 2018

unnamed-1

“You cannot get a good education if you disappear from yourself. Being visible and present is crucial to embracing knowledge.”

Anna Deavere Smith writes in The New York Times about the first time a white person used the word “love” in relation to her.

READ MORE

Anna Deavere Smith is bringing her essential play Notes From the Field to HBO

unnamed-1

Entertainment Weekly reports that Notes from the Field has been adapted into a film by HBO. It is scheduled to release in February 2018.

Anna Deavere Smith interviews Samora Pinderhughes for Lincoln Center Magazine

Anna Deavere Smith interviewed composer, pianist, and director Samora Pinderhughes for Lincoln Center Magazine.

Read the interview here and check out The Transformations Suite below.

Anna Deavere Smith takes part in XQ America’s Super School Live event

On September 8th, 2017, Anna Deavere Smith joins Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hanks, Mahershala Ali, Common, and many other artists participating in “EIF Presents: XQ Super School Live,” a special one-hour telecast which will invite the public to help rethink the future of American high
schools.

They all-star telecast will air live from Los Angeles on all four major U.S. networks – ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC – on Friday, Sept. 8 at 8:00-9:00 PM ET.

 

ANNA DEAVERE SMITH’S COMMENCEMENT SPEECH AT LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY

May 6, 2017

 

Click below to read Anna Deavere Smith’s full speech at Loyola Marymount University’s Commencement on May 6, 2017.

READ MORE

VANITY FAIR – The Women Playwrights Giving Broadway a Moral Compass

April 21, 2017

“I wanted to write a new play,” explains the playwright at the center of Paula Vogel’s Indecent, “that posed contemporary moral questions, that forced us to face some uncomfortable truths.” Vogel’s inventive portrayal of a 20th-century Yiddish theater troupe struggling with controversial material does just that, as do Anna Deavere Smith’s Notes from the Field and Lynn Nottage’s Sweat, for which Nottage received the Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

Smith, who famously crafted a new genre out of the one-woman show, seeks to personalize the headlines by making us reflect on our propensity to pathologize. In Notes from the Field, she becomes a young black man from Baltimore who dismantles a police car; the girl who took video footage of her classmate being tossed out of her chair by a security officer in South Carolina; Sherrilyn Ifill, the president of the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense Fund; and so many more.

READ MORE

LENNY LETTER – Anna Deavere Smith Is Bringing Black Lives Matter to the Stage

By Olivia Clement

April 14, 2017

Last November, I returned to the same theater to see Anna Deavere Smith’s Notes From the Field. Based on hundreds of interviews, Anna’s powerful monologue play depicts the personal accounts of students, parents, prisoners, teachers, and administrators caught in America’s school-to-prison pipeline. The show shines a crucial light on the inequities of poverty, lack of opportunity, and over-aggressive policing that leads youth into the prison system. Like a lot of her work, the play is life-changing and necessary.

Anna is someone who makes me want to be smarter. She’s written and performed almost 20 acclaimed one-person shows based on interviews, and her work is always urgent and inspiring. Even President Obama recognizes her transcendence — he presented her with the National Humanities Medal in 2013. We talked on the phone for half an hour about mass incarceration — but given the state of the world, we had a few other things to also mull over.

READ MORE

LOS ANGELES TIMES – Favorite memories from 50 years of Center Theatre Group

By Lisa Fung

April 13, 2017

Fifty years ago, Los Angeles welcomed the Ahmanson Theatre and the Mark Taper Forum with a weeklong celebration marking the newest addition to the city’s cultural center. Without a doubt, the Ahmanson and Taper have introduced, nurtured and hosted some of the finest actors and actresses, directors and playwrights in the world. We reached out to a few of them by phone and email, asking them to share their favorite memories, which have been condensed and edited for space.

Anna Deavere Smith, writer, actress and director

“Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992” (1992-93), “House Arrest: An Introgression” (1998-99)

While I was writing “Twilight Los Angeles 1992,” my play about the L.A. riots, the Taper hired a variety of consultants, each representing a different ethnic group and perspective about the riot. Their jobs entailed introducing me to folks all over L.A.

After performing each preview, I went home and revised the play. Before doing so, I met with the consultants and the creative team. The city was still on edge, and so were these “dramaturges,” as we called them. We should have sold tickets to those discussions. All over town people were anxious that there might be another riot, depending on the outcome of the second trial — the federal trial of the four police officers who beat Rodney King.

READ MORE

ANNA DEAVERE SMITH’S REMARKS UPON ACCEPTING THE GEORGE POLK AWARD

April 7, 2017

Thank you, John Darnton. Thank you, Charlayne. There are many people I could thank – theaters, philanthropists, other artists – regrettably they are not here.  I will thank Stephanie Schneider from the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue at NYU, who helped us wrangle audiences of 500 people into small groups, so we could have discussions during my last play – a form of civic engagement. And thank you to Allyson Green, Dean of the Tisch School of the Arts, because I am given enough flexibility to do my work, but to still be in the rich intellectual community of my colleagues and students.

READ MORE

THE BOSTON GLOBE – WHAT’S THE ROLE OF THEATER IN THIS TIME OF TRUMP?

By Don Aucoin

March 24, 2017

For the hosts and writers of late-night TV comedy shows as well as the anchors and producers of hyperkinetic cable-news programs, President Trump is the gift that keeps on giving.

But what about theater? What is the role of playwrights when confronted with an unprecedented figure like Trump and the overheated political environment he has generated?

“Right now, satire and comedy are having a ball, but there are people who are going to suffer,’’ playwright-performer Anna Deavere Smith said in a telephone interview. “No matter how many things are done on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ no matter how many op-ed pieces are written, not many of us feel that we understand this. A play has a chance to bring more sense to us, and to help us in a deeper way.’’

Smith said that theater can play a vital role in the present-tense conversation about Trump, but she maintained that there is also “some value to hindsight,’’ adding that dramas fully explaining this political-cultural moment “could be 10 years out, 20 years out.’’

READ MORE

The Flo Kennedy Show (1992) – Anna Deavere Smith talks ‘Fires in the Mirror’

June 4, 1992

Anna Deavere Smith appears on The Flo Kennedy Show to discuss her play Fires in the Mirror.

Students Honor MLK’s Legacy at Alabama Lynching Sites

College Track students traveled to Montgomery, Alabama to learn from Bryan Stevenson and Equal Justice Initiative about our history of racial violence, and how we can all bring new resolve to honoring the truth.

VIEW VIDEO

The Atlantic – Anna Deavere Smith Shares ‘Notes From the Field’

That’s what makes Anna Deavere Smith’s Notes From the Field, a production about “a justice system that pushes minors from poor communities out of the classroom and into incarceration,” so striking. As a journalist who’s written, read, and edited countless stories about the school-to-prison pipeline, I entered the theater anticipating an intensely artistic experience but not necessarily a dramatically educational one. Largely because of its language—the words uttered or not uttered, the movements made or suppressed, the way they those expressions were expressed—it turned out to be an intoxicating combination of both.

I recently spoke with Smith about her experience researching for and performing the play, which recently ended its off-Broadway stint at Second Stage Theatre. A lightly edited and condensed version of our interview follows.

READ MORE

TMC NEWS – Anna Deavere Smith Addresses Complexities of Life, Death in Houston Performance

By Shanley Chien

January 18, 2017

The Baylor College of Medicine Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy hosted Tuesday evening its annual community outreach event to present an abbreviated version of “Let Me Down Easy,” a play performed and written by actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith that explores the vulnerability of the body and the resilience of the human spirit.

In a series of real-life character portrayals, Smith reenacted nine vignettes of people’s experiences with health care in very personal terms, using their words, expressions, mannerisms, sputters and pauses exactly as they were delivered in her interviews with various doctors, administrators and patients.

READ MORE

The Leonard Lopate Show – Anna Deavere Smith Takes on the School-to-Prison Pipeline in ‘Notes From the Field’

Actress, playwright and professor Anna Deavere Smith discusses her first-person storytelling show, “Notes From the Field.” It depicts the personal accounts of students, parents, teachers and administrators caught in America’s school-to-prison pipeline, as they experience inequality, lack of opportunity and over-aggressive policing in their own communities.

The New Yorker – ANNA DEAVERE SMITH CONTAINS MULTITUDES

Smith is known for the range of characters she plays onstage and on television, in roles like the national-security adviser Nancy McNally, on “The West Wing,” and Gloria Akalitus, on “Nurse Jackie.” Still, she said, she does not “do” other people, nor is she an impersonator. In discussing some of the characters she plays in her latest production—Niya Kenny, a teen-age girl (fidgety feet, a nervous biting of her cheek) who stood up to a police officer after he violently handcuffed her for refusing her teacher’s order to put away her cell phone; a female prison inmate whose only object of affection is the dog she trains (slumped over, speaking almost in a whisper)—Smith also objected to the idea that she “gives voice” to people who might not otherwise be heard. “If anything, they give me a voice,” she said, when we were downstairs in the airy museum café. “Anybody can speak for themselves, and they always could.”

READ MORE

New York Times – This Time, Anna Deavere Smith Cuts Close to Home

Anna Deavere Smith is coming home.

The protean actress and playwright has spent her career interviewing and then embodying people of different races and divergent points of view — “chasing that which is not me,” as she put it in a recent interview. But her new play, “Notes From the Field,” a prolonged meditation on education and criminal justice, is different.

“This piece,” she said, “is about me.”

READ MORE

TIME – Anna Deavere Smith on Race, Education and Criminal Justice

By Eliza Berman

October 27, 2016

‘I’ve been interested in people who see the dignity in struggle’

“How did coming from a family of educators shape your perspective on education?”

I grew up in Baltimore, a town that was just coming out of segregated schools. Education was about progress and community and love. My mother taught really poor kids. Even though we were all, at the time, Negroes, there was a clarity for me about my situation and the situation of the children she taught.

“In “Notes From the Field”, you tackle the so-called school-to-prison pipeline, through which many poor kids end up in the criminal-justice system instead of in school.”

READ MORE

BWW TV – Anna Deavere Smith Explains What NOTES FROM THE FIELD Is All About

TDF Stages Directing One Person (Playing 19 People)

By Jeff Potter

October 24, 2016

Inside Anna Deavere Smith’s latest solo show.

Leonard Foglia has directed theatrical events of all scales, including an epic production of the opera Moby Dick that included a sprawling ensemble and eye-popping sets and projections. Yet the versatile director/librettist/novelist contends that the antithesis of such a production – the solo show – can be equally challenging.

“You don’t have a scene where, all of a sudden, ‘Oh! The young people run on stage now to change the rhythm,'” he laughs. “One person has to change it.”

Foglia proved his acumen for shaping solo pieces with Thurgood, which featured Laurence Fishburne as Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall and bowed on Broadway in 2008. Now he’s returning to the form as the director of Notes From the Field, the latest solo showcase for writer-performer Anna Deavere Smith. (The play is currently in previews at Second Stage.)

READ MORE

Anna Deavere Smith introduces Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education

July 22, 2016

Anna Deavere Smith presents her speech Ringside: Get Real as part of the Opening Plenary at the 2016 TCG National Conference: Theatre Nation presented by the Theatre Communications Group on June 23, 2016. Video coverage is presented by the global, commons-based peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv. ASL interpretations are presented by Miako Rankin.

NEWSDAY – Anna Deavere Smith solos again with another ‘tough topic’

October 17, 2016

By Linda Winer

She hadn’t intended to be back here and doing this, at least not now.

Anna Deavere Smith — who arguably invented or changed forever the concept of first-person, multicharacter theater — did not set out to be in previews of her solo show about the school-to-prison pipeline called “Notes From the Field.” It took her five years — and some painful cultural shifts — to change her mind.

READ MORE

Anna Deavere Smith Talks Theater and Activism

January 6, 2016

Join us for an intimate conversation with Tony-Award winning actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith.

She’ll sit down with author and producer Susan Fales-Hill for an exploration of the creative process and what happens when theater and activism intersect.

They will discuss her signature form of documentary theater and her ground-breaking stage career — from her powerful one-woman piece “Twilight: Los Angeles,” to her newest work, “Pipeline Project,” an examination of the systemic cycle of school suspension to incarceration that is prevalent in low-income, minority communities.

PBS NEWSHOUR – Anna Deavere Smith tackles school-to-prison pipeline on stage

September 29, 2015

For Anna Deavere Smith, actress and path-breaking performance artist, Baltimore is home. After the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, the city became a sadly appropriate setting for Smith to tackle her latest project: a one-woman show about the “school to prison pipeline,” which funnels children who get into trouble at school into the criminal justice system. Jeffrey Brown reports.

OTHER RESOURCES

UPDATES

Anna Deavere Smith named to Essence Magazine’s #WOKE100

April 17, 2017

ESSENCE magazine has chosen Anna Deavere Smith as one of 100 women on their inaugural #WOKE100 list, which honors Black women activists, artists, politicians, educators, organizers, journalists and creators who are working to achieve equality for people of color.

READ MORE

‘NOTES FROM THE FIELD’ AT A.R.T. NOMINATED FOR 2 ELLIOT NORTON AWARDS

April 11, 2017

The American Repertory Theatre production of Notes From the Field received two Eliot Norton Award nominations, which celebrate the best theater in the Boston Area. The play received nominations for Outstanding New Script and Outstanding Solo Performance. Winners will be revealed at the 35th Annual Elliot Norton Awards on Monday, May 15, 2017 at 7 PM.

READ MORE

‘NOTES FROM THE FIELD’ NOMINATED FOR 2 LUCILLE LORTEL AWARDS

April 4, 2017

Anna Deavere Smith’s newest play, Notes From the Field, was nominated for Outstanding Solo Show at the Lucille Lortel Awards. The play also received a nomination for its projection design. Winners will be announced when the Lucille Lortel Awards are handed out in a May 7 ceremony at New York University’s Skirball Center.

READ MORE

ANNA DEAVERE SMITH NAMED 2017 HONORARY DEGREE RECIPIENT AT DARTMOUTH COLLEGE

April 4, 2017

Dartmouth will recognize nine accomplished men and women with honorary degrees at the College’s 2017 Commencement on Sunday, June 11, on the Green, including Anna Deavere Smith. President Phil Hanlon ’77 will deliver the valedictory address to graduates. Dartmouth typically awards about 1,000 bachelor’s degrees and 600 master’s and doctoral degrees in the arts and sciences and from the College’s three professional schools: the Geisel School of Medicine, Thayer School of Engineering, and the Tuck School of Business.The academic procession to the Green will begin at 9 a.m., and visitors are advised to be in their seats by 8:45 a.m. Commencement ceremonies will begin at 9:30 a.m.

READ MORE

Anna Deavere Smith receives the Polk Career Award

February 20, 2017

This morning, Long Island University (LIU) has announced the winners of the 68th annual George Polk Awards in Journalism, continuing the University’s longstanding tradition of honoring and celebrating the impact of courageous and authentic journalism on our national and global discourse.

Anna Deavere Smith, the educator, playwright and actress who has brought journalism to the stage in acclaimed interview-based dramatic depictions exploring urban conflict in Brooklyn and Los Angeles and, most recently, connecting incarceration of minority youth to lack of educational access and economic opportunity, will be the 35th recipient of the George Polk Career Award.

The George Polk Awards are conferred annually to honor special achievement in journalism. The awards place a premium on investigative and enterprising reporting that gains attention and achieves results. They were established in 1949 by Long Island University to commemorate George Polk, a CBS correspondent murdered in 1948 while covering the Greek civil war.

READ MORE

Anna Deavere Smith Named 2017 Honorary Degree Recipient at Swarthmore College

February 2, 2017

[Swarthmore College] President Valerie Smith will award honorary degrees to film producer and journalist David Gelber ’63, philanthropist John Goldman ’71, and actor and playwright Anna Deavere Smith at the 145th commencement on May 21, 2017. In addition, approximately 350 undergraduates will receive degrees at the ceremony in Scott Amphitheater.

READ MORE