ANNA DEAVERE SMITH FIRES IN THE MIRROR PDF

On August 19, , in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, a car in the motorcade of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, leader of the Lubavitch Hasidic movement, sped through a red light, struck another car, swerved onto the sidewalk and hit and killed Gavin Cato, a 7-year-old black boy from Guyana, while severely injuring his cousin Angela. Almost immediately, rumors spread that an ambulance, privately run by the Hasidim, had taken the driver and his fellow passengers to the hospital, while the young black children lay bleeding on the ground. That night, a group of young black men retaliated by stabbing Yankel Rosenbaum, a year-old Orthodox Jewish scholar from Australia, who eventually died in the same hospital as Gavin. Over the next three days, a race riot erupted , in which black residents protested the police, stormed the Lubavitcher headquarters, and targeted Jewish businesses.

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I have also seen the performance live, and refer to that occasion and other instances of live performances in this essay. Since , Anna Deavere Smith has come to public prominence in the United States as a result of two shows she has conceived and performed about events of extreme national importance involving issues of race.

One event took place on the east coast, the other on the west coast, and her first performances of the respective plays opened in the geographic location of these events within a year of their origin.

Thus, Smith's work has contributed to a local as well as a national dialogue and reflection on race relations in the troubled present.

Smith constructs her plays from interviews with persons directly or indirectly involved in the historical events in question and delivers, verbatim, their words and the essence of their physical beings in characterizations which rail somewhere between caricature, Brechtian epic gestus, and mimicry. This imbrication in the cultural codes of news and history has magnified the authority of Smith's work beyond representation toward an always elusive horizon of ''Truth,'' and has constructed her as a privileged voice who may speak for others across race, class, and gender boundaries.

For academics, she is most often studied for her innovative practices of acting and playwriting. For the popular press, her many talents and wide-ranging flexibility as a performer have led to her construction as celebrity. Both of these groups have suffered historic discrimination; they have also experienced inter-group tensions, misunderstanding and alienation in Crown Heights for over twenty years.

In August of , racial violence exploded in the wake of the death of Guyanese-American Gavin Cato, aged seven, and the injury of his cousin Angela. A car traveling in the cavalcade of Grand Rebbe Menachem Schneerson, driven by Yosef Lifsh, ran a red light, went out of control, and hit the two children.

Three hours later, a group of black youth attacked Yankel Rosenbaum, a twenty-nine year old Hasidic student, visiting from Australia. He died of stab wounds. Lemrik Nelson, Jr. Four nights of serious rioting followed. Throughout and into these incidents continued to divide Crown Heights and to command national newspaper headlines. Lemrick Nelson, Jr. Anna Deavere Smith's interviews in Crown Heights were conducted over approximately eight days in the fall of Smith has said that she "went to various people in the mayor's office and asked them for ideas for people to interview.

People lead to more people" These interviews were combined with others of well-known intellectuals and artists such Angela Davis, Ntozake Shange, and George C. Her performances have not always included all twenty-nine, and the order of characters has varied.

Smith learned about interviewing and embodying people by experimenting with various Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide. Forged from a partnership between a university press and a library, Project MUSE is a trusted part of the academic and scholarly community it serves. Built on the Johns Hopkins University Campus. This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.

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Fires in the Mirror

I have also seen the performance live, and refer to that occasion and other instances of live performances in this essay. Since , Anna Deavere Smith has come to public prominence in the United States as a result of two shows she has conceived and performed about events of extreme national importance involving issues of race. One event took place on the east coast, the other on the west coast, and her first performances of the respective plays opened in the geographic location of these events within a year of their origin. Thus, Smith's work has contributed to a local as well as a national dialogue and reflection on race relations in the troubled present. Smith constructs her plays from interviews with persons directly or indirectly involved in the historical events in question and delivers, verbatim, their words and the essence of their physical beings in characterizations which rail somewhere between caricature, Brechtian epic gestus, and mimicry.

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He Took Her Parts in ‘Fires in the Mirror.’ All 25 of Them.

It explores the viewpoints of people from Black and Hasidic Jewish people based in New York City who were connected directly and indirectly to the Crown Heights riot that occurred in Crown Heights, Brooklyn in August Fires in the Mirror is composed of monologues taken directly by Smith from transcripts of the interviews she conducted with the people whom she portrays in the play. She interviewed more than individuals in the course of creating this play. It is considered a pioneering example of the genre known as verbatim theatre. It is a series of monologues which she has created from interviews. In that racially divided neighborhood, populated largely by African Americans and Chabad Hasidic Jews, a car driven by a Jewish man veered onto a sidewalk and struck two children, killing Gavin Cato, a 7-year-old Caribbean-American boy. The death, and what the African-American community perceived as a delayed response of city emergency medical personnel, sparked protests by them in the neighborhood.

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