Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Anna Deavere Smith on NPR

Partially, I'm bookmarking this link for myself, but it strikes me as being of interest to others out there. Those who don't know Smith's work are missing out. Her now 25-year-running series, In Search of American Character includes her two most famous performances pieces: Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, and Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992. These two pieces in particular have interested scholars, me included, because of the way that Smith, and African American woman, performs across genders and across races, thematizing them as she does so.

So her performances make very explicit use of her body as text onto which a range of identities are written.

The show she is talking about here, "Let Me Down Easy" is about illness and the American health care system, which means that among the identities she will be be performing and thematizing are bodies in whatever way disabled by illness or accident, and in doing so, she will be performing pain in a way that I've been thinking about a lot recently, particularly in light of my mother's illness, and the way that has led into academic work on performance, pain and identity.

I need to listen to the interview carefully, and find a way to see the show as soon as I can.

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