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Dr. Nancy McCormick Rambusch Lecture: Anna Deavere Smith

Saturday, March 24 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Dr. Nancy McCormick Rambusch Lecture: Anna Deavere Smith Illustrative Image

"Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education"

Are the American school system and the American incarceration system intertwined? For far too many of our nation’s children these two institutions intersect in ways that serve to derail lives and erase human potential. In this towering keynote—part performance, part lecture—actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith will dissect the school-to-prison pipeline and portray educators, parents, and victims of childhood trauma. Using their own words, drawn from interviews she conducted, Ms. Smith will inhabit this diverse group of people who have witnessed the problems facing disenfranchised children. Their words, and Ms. Smith’s ruminations on education and criminal justice, will shine a light on how school culture can make a lasting difference in the lives of young people. You’ll leave inspired to engage colleagues and students alike in discussions of peace and social justice, consider different perspectives, and reminded of the cosmic principle that all human life is connected and unified.

Anna Playwright Session

About Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith is a playwright, actor, and educator who uses her singular brand of theater to explore issues of community, character, and diversity in America. She is best known for crafting more than 15 one-woman shows, based on hundreds of conversations. Ms. Smith turns her interviews into scripts, transforming herself into an astonishing number of characters. Her breakthrough plays—Fires in the Mirror, a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize; the Tony-nominated Twilight: Los Angeles; and Let Me Down Easy—explore a diverse range of issues currently on the forefront of the American psyche, including race, social justice, and healthcare.

For her work on stage, the MacArthur Foundation honored Ms. Smith with the Genius Fellowship for creating “a new form of theatre—a blend of theatrical art, social commentary, journalism, and intimate reverie.” In 2012, President Obama presented her with the National Humanities Medal. In 2015, she was named the Jefferson Lecturer, the nation’s highest honor in the humanities. She also is the recipient of the prestigious Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and most recently, the 2017 Ridenhour Courage Prize and the George Polk Career Award for authentic journalism.

As an actress, Ms. Smith is known for her work on the television series Black-ish, Nurse Jackie, and The West Wing. Her films include The American President, Rachel Getting Married, and Philadelphia.

Smith is the founding director of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue at New York University, where she is a Professor at Tisch School of the Arts. Her books include Letters to a Young Artist and Talk to Me: Listening between the Lines. Smith holds honorary degrees from Yale, Dartmouth, the University of Pennsylvania, and Julliard, among others.

Books by Anna

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