Anna Deavere Smith, begins the conversation regarding her latest solo-show saying, “it’s about our bodies; their power and their vulnerability.” In the end- it’s a message about cherishing the moments of life (wherein we inhabit our bodies)
In her inimitable style, she portrays the people she’s interviewed which includes;
the late Ann Richards-former Governer of Texas, Lance Armstrong, Elizabeth Steb-choreographer, Associate Dean of Yale School of Medicine-Ruth Katz, and a captivating bull-rider, Brent Williams; ”What keeps ya on top tha bull is sheer determination!”
I’m in pursuit of the “spooky truth…I simply begin by asking, what happened?”
What’s revealed are fascinating stories about the struggle with illness, pain and the healthcare system…. Asking where is care in our society? We have all this technology but do we know how to heal? Do healthcare professionals know how to listen?
When asked what the play’s title means, she says, ultimately the title is about a call for grace and kindness, in a world that often lacks that. We want to distance ourselves from these realities, because we’re afraid. But can we morally afford to deal with people this way?
“The medicine I take from the show is how to treat other people”
The New York run was sold-out – maybe HBO will present this brilliant work? Meanwhile, here’s a chance to get a glimpse of her amazing ability to channel the soul of others, as she illuminates her process in conversation with Bill Moyers.
Her genius lies in her ability to acutely listen and re-create the persona, their words become her text. Her technique was derived from a philosophy she inherited from her father, “if you say a word often enough – it becomes you.”
In her book, “Talk to Me,” she says acting is about as far from lying as anything because of the vulnerability of the actor. If you think about it we are going in there and putting our identity for rent, we’re giving it up for periods of time. We are trained to feel deeply for an imagined other -that’s not lying, that’s the pursuit of another kind of truth.