(Kate Taylor’s article appeared in The New York Times, 10/14; via Pam Green.)
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.”
That may not be obvious to the audience. Like her previous work, including her most famous one-woman plays, “Fires in the Mirror,” about the 1991 race riots in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and “Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992,”about the Rodney King riots, “Notes From the Field” is based on scores of interviews.
Ms. Smith plays 19 characters, including Linda Wayman, the dedicated principal of a struggling high school in Philadelphia; Kevin Moore, the deli worker in Baltimore who videotaped police officers dragging Freddie Gray into a police transport van; and Niya Kenny, the high school student in Columbia, S.C., who videotaped a sheriff’s deputy slamming a 16-year-old girl on the floor in an effort to extract her from her desk.