Anna Deavere Smith writes what could be described as “documentary dramas” for which she does extensive research and interviews in order to present a living history. The idea of theater as a “living newspaper” was used extensively in this country by the Federal Theater Project as part of the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s. FTP director Hallie Flanagan wrote that, “the [Living Newspaper] seeks to dramatize a new struggle — the search of the average American today for knowledge about [their] country and [their] world; to dramatize [their] struggle to turn the great natural and economic forces of our time toward a better life for more.” The aim was to dramatize current issues and concerns by presenting facts, anecdotes and newspaper stories, using realistic content but in a theatrical style which included quick scene and set changes; flexibility of stage space, using many levels, rolling and hand-carried scenery, and scrims to establish a multitude of locations without elaborate constructed sets; projection of settings, statistics, and film; sound effects and full musical scores; the use of a loudspeaker to narrate and comment on the action; and abrupt blackouts and harsh spotlights. If you think that this also sounds a lot like the work of Bertolt Brecht, you would not be wrong.
 
Recently, plays such as The Vagina Monologues, Zoot Suit, The Exonerated, and The Laramie Project have used these techniques to great acclaim. In many of these, as in Twilight: Los Angeles 1992, it is not the actual event that is dramatized but the consequences and responses to that event. Anna Deavere Smith’s work is unique in that one person performs multiple roles rather than a chorus of actors speaking the variety of voices. For Twilight, Smith conducted more than 300 interviews over several years. Here is a listing of the real people Andresia Moseley takes on — all in around one hour and forty-five minutes including the intermission:
 
ACT ONE
 
INTRO
“A Movie”
Keith Watson, Former Security Guard and Co-Assailant of Reginald Denny
 
SMOKE
“Safe and Sound in Beverly Hills”
Elaine Young, Real Estate Agent
 
“My Enemy”
Rudy Salas, Sr., Painter and Sculptor
 
“Here’s a Nobody”
Angela King, Rodney King’s Aunt
 
“Control Holds”
Sgt. Charles Duke, SWAT LAPD, Use of Force Expert for the Defense
 
NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE
THE LATASHA HARLINS STORY
Charles Lloyd, Attorney for Soon Ja Du
 
Gina Rae AKA Queen Malkah, Community Activist
 
Jay Woong Yahng, Liquor Store Owner
 
THE STORY OF RODNEY KING
THE FIRST TRIAL/SIMI VALLEY FEB. 1992
“Indelible Substance”
Josie Morales, Clerk Typist, City of LA, Witness to Rodney King Beating
 
“Your Heads in Shame”
Anonymous Man, Juror in Simi Valley Trial
 
ROCKED
“Rocked”
Keith Watson, Former Security Guard and Co-Assailant of Reginald Denny
 
“Big and Dreadful Things”
Shelby Coffey III, Editor, LA Times
 
“Pep Boys”
Katie Miller, Book Keeper and Accountant
 
“And in My Heart for Him”
Mrs. June Park, Wife of Walter Park
 
“Hammer”
Stanley K. Sheinbaum, Former President, LA Police Commission
 
“It’s Awful Hard to Break Away”
Daryl Gates, Former Chief of LAPD
 
THE NATIONAL GUARD COMES TO LA
Maxine Waters, Congresswoman, 35th District
 
Charlton Heston, Actor and Activist
 
“Caesar Salad/Absorb a Little Guilt”
Talent Agent, Anonymous Hollywood Agency
 
ACT TWO
 
VIEWING
“The Beverly Hills Hotel”
Elaine Young, Real Estate Agent
 
“Rage”
Keith Watson, Former Security Guard and Co-Assailant of Reginald Denny
 
MORNING AFTER
“To Look Like Little Girls from Little”
Elvira Evers, General Worker and Cashier, Canteen Corporation
 
“Roar”
Jessye Norman, Opera Singer
 
“A Weird Common Thread in Our Lives”
Reginald Denny, Semi-Truck Driver, Victim
 
“No Justice, No Peace/My Room”
Paul Parker, Chairperson, Free the LA Four Plus Defense Committee
 
LOSSES
“Chekhov/Coltrane”
Cornel West, Scholar
 
“Marching Orders”
Alice Waters, Chef, Chez Panisse Restaurant, Berkeley, CA
 
JUSTICE
“AA Meeting”
Maria, Juror #7, Federal Trial
 
“Swallowing the Bitterness”
Mrs. Young-Soon Han, Former Liquor Store Owner
 
“Limbo”
Twilight Bey, Organizer, Gang Truce
Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Recent Posts

Categories

One Response

What Do You Think?

The Jobsite Newsletter

News

Special Invites

Secret Deals

All the Best Stuff

Oranization Ticket Request

Request tickets to be donated to your organization.

    Name

    Email

    Message

    Include an Attachment (Limit: 10Mb)

    Technical Director Contact

    Questions for our Technical Director.

      Name

      Email

      Message

      Staged Readings Contact

      To perform in a reading, have your script considered, or have other Staged Readings questions.

        Name

        Email

        Message

        Attach files (5MB limit)

        Artistic Director Contact

        Get in touch with Artistic Director David M. Jenkins for all business and production related questions and touring information.

          Name

          Email

          Message

          Development Contact

          Donating to or volunteering for Galas and other fundraisers, plus any other grant or sponsorship questions.

            Name

            Email

            Message

            Auditions Contact

            Audition questions, scheduling, resumes and headshots. Also, read about our auditions for more info.

              Name

              Email

              Message

              Attach Headshots/Resumes (5MB limit)

              Donations & Support Contact

              Be a Jobsite sponsor, send us something from our wishlist, advertising questions, etc.

                Name

                Email

                Message

                Tickets Contact

                General questions and information regarding tickets, group rates, discounts, and individual ticket donations.

                  Name

                  Email

                  Message

                  Include an Attachment (Limit: 3Mb)

                  Contact the Webmaster

                  Email our Online Producer regarding website questions, broken links and general kudos for all around groovy site design.

                    Name

                    Email

                    Message