In collaboration with Stony Brook University’s Center for Changing Systems of Power, the Staller Center welcomes legendary actress, playwright and educator Anna Deavere Smith to present “On the Road: A Search for American Character” at the Staller Center on Tuesday, November 29, at 4 pm. Following her presentation, Smith will engage in a Q&A session with the audience.
Tickets are free for Stony Brook students, faculty and staff.
About Anna Deavere Smith
Smith, who is credited with creating a new form of theater, has been listening to people across the country from all walks of life for decades, using Walt Whitman’s idea “to absorb America” as an inspiration. To illustrate her goal of bringing “people across the chasms” of what she calls the “complex identities of America,” Smith performs portrayals of people she has interviewed during the course of her presentation, recreating a diversity of emotions and points of view on controversial issues.
Anna Deavere Smith is popularly known for her TV and film roles, including in Nurse Jackie, The West Wing, Black-ish, For the People, Rachel Getting Married and Inventing Anna, among others. However, her form of theater-making has been at the center of her career. From hundreds of interviews and conversations spanning many different communities, Smith brings to the stage the complex identities and inequalities of America. She has created more than 18 one-woman shows, blending together the performing arts, political commentary and social justice.
Her passion for social justice has fueled projects like Notes from the Field, which explores the “pipeline” from school to prison for low-income students in the United States. The New York Times named the stage version among The Best Theater of 2016 and TIME Magazine called it one of the Top 10 Plays of the Year. HBO premiered the film version in February 2018. It was nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award. Preceding Notes From the Field, Smith’s play Let Me Down Easy looked into the resilience of the human body through the viewpoint of the current national healthcare debate.