We need a generation of leaders who are as loving as they are strategic. Very powerful. Her performance of this play is brilliantly executed, specific, authentic, driven by clear action and supported by comprehensive study and research uncensored by the opressive forces that drive racism. The first action was for black citizens to gather at their church to sign a petition for education equality. Marcus Shelby and Anna Deavere Smith in 'Notes From the Field', Notes from the Field, review: A powerful expose of the justice system, Machinal, review: Feels like it could have been written last week, You may not agree with our views, or other users’, but please respond to them respectfully, Swearing, personal abuse, racism, sexism, homophobia and other discriminatory or inciteful language is not acceptable, Do not impersonate other users or reveal private information about third parties, We reserve the right to delete inappropriate posts and ban offending users without notification. May 21st 2019 She is a recipient of The Dorothy and Lillian G. Anna Deavere Smith (born September 18, 1950) is an American actress, playwright, and professor. If you have not seen the HBO film or a live performance, I struggle recommend that you do. Why I was interested in this book: I’ve known of Anna Deavere Smith and her work for many years. Smith creates a one women show and mixed media performance based on her personal interviews and research on the school to prison pipeline. These students are also contending with environments that are not conducive to learning: They are surrounded by violence and poverty, suffer from trauma and physical and mental health challenges, lack the self-regulation that school culture requires, and are bereft of hope and a sense of purpose. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved this. After the interval, she invites the audience to interact through call and response, culminating in Smith asking the audience to sing Amazing Grace. “Can you sever 80 per cent of your own spine?” asks Moore, who leaves us in no doubt that it takes “just a glance” for a black man to antagonise the cops.  It was directed by Kristi Zea, edited by Paul Snyder, and produced by Gary Goetzman and Smith. Work on the play continued amid the terrible evens of this past July that saw the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the slaying of five police officers in Dallas, and that revealed, even more starkly in this divisive election year, national discord over not only the best policies for addressing social problems, but even over what the problems are. Some of them are headed to prison no matter what interventions are in place, and some of them are just mean, disrespectful kids. He is still at the forefront — fighting for social justice in Charleston. This play reminds us that Theater is Life. The concluding monologue comes from Congressman John Lewis recalling the Selma march in 1965 and the forgiveness that was later sought from him by a white policeman, too young to have been present. The NAACP stepped up to support the community in 1949, expanding the demand to one of equal educational opportunities in Clarendon County. His plan was for a system that would reveal the “excellent students” and throw out the “rubbish.” The “rubbish,” Maxine said, were the poor kids who couldn’t make it. The second act especially is filled with knockout speeches by the likes of Equal Justice Initiative's Bryan Stevenson, emotional support teacher Stephanie Williams, and the always insightful James Baldwin to name but three. Filed in 1951, it preceded the more famous Brown v. Board of Education into which it was eventually subsumed. While traveling in various parts of the country to do interviews upon which “Notes From the Field” is based, I was particularly influenced by two women I met in South Carolina, one in Charleston and the other in Summerton. Drawn from interviews with more than 250 people living and working within a challenged system, Anna Deavere Smith continues her mastery of the documentary solo performance by stimulating awareness and, ultimately, change for the better. This is a transcription of Smith's stage show of the same name about the school-to-prison pipeline, along with introductory comments, notes about Smith's process, and performance notes. In one of the most powerful monologues, Pastor Jamal Harrison Bryant speaks at the funeral of Freddie Gray, who died aged 25 in 2015 when his spine was severed during his arrest. The play was first presented by the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, before touring and being adapted into a television movie. A lot of point resonated with me. A recurring motif is of black men being stalked by police or running for their lives. Smith, as always, is expert at culling her source material and the way she builds her story here is a wonder to behold. The U.S. Department of Justice has investigated — and even sued—several states for violating the rights of children funneled into juvenile justice systems for minor infractions. Do not miss this vitally important,crucially informative, enthralling work of truth and artistry. Read, share, perform, attend, teach with this great play! This is captivating political theatre, a devastating document of racial inequality and the most rousing of rallying calls. She is currently the artist in residence at the Center for American Progress. ‘This is American history, not African American history,” clarifies Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer and activist from Alabama. Are you sure you want to mark this comment as inappropriate? Both these stories start with the environment that these children are growing up in, and I can tell you even when they are removed from that environment they seek it out because that is what is they know. It is a peaceable ending but sits awkwardly next to the horror and hate that precedes it. , The play consists of two acts: during the first act, Smith introduces the people in the school-to-prison pipeline, acting as each character herself. You can call it an "adjustment disorder" or whatever label psychologists want to put on it but the kids boomerang back to poverty and violence even when they have a choice. We must do the work required to make our democracy robust. A book that was actually a one person theatre production. “By ensuring federal civil rights protections, offering alternatives to exclusionary discipline and providing useful information to school resource officers, we can keep America’s young people safe and on the right path,” said Attorney General Eric Holder when the guidelines were released. Start by marking “Notes from the Field” as Want to Read: Error rating book. I received a copy from NetGalley for review purposes. Costume changes are initially made in darkened stage corners, Smith sitting and glugging from a water bottle like a theatrical pugilist waiting to throw herself back in the ring. Refresh and try again. Anna Deavere Smith (born September 18, 1950) is an American actress, playwright, and professor. (He is a fan of the play.). Popularity was not enough to override racism. To call "Notes from the Field" a script is to diminish it. Read and listen to this book. Captivating … Anna Deavere Smith in Notes from the Field. We all live somewhere in the landscape. The county said no. “Rich kids get mischief, poor kids get pathologized and incarcerated.” Smith explains the injustice that starts with America's schools. She last appeared in London 25 years ago with Fires in the Mirror, her one-person docu-collage about the 1991 Crown Heights race riots. As some of you well know, even though southern towns were eventually ordered to desegregate, they found ways around it. Create a commenting name to join the debate, There are no Independent Premium comments yet - be the first to add your thoughts, There are no comments yet - be the first to add your thoughts. Welcome back. Your backstage pass to a stellar production. Anna Deavere Smith Hopes to Disrupt the System Through Conversation. And other social forces and institutions are separating us from each other even more. Those gifts should be honed, nourished, refined, and celebrated in the same way we cultivate athletic prowess, intellectual productivity, and business acumen. My education and my career are byproducts of laws that helped make it possible for more of us to reach our arms over the chasm of racism and classism. Later, the changes are on the lit stage. It will stay with you for a long time. But sixty years later, it’s obvious that laws are not enough. To say I was riveted was an understatement. In many American cities today, schools are as racially segregated as they were in the 1950s. She presents first person accounts of many characters including teachers, admin, parents etc. One of the most hailed and provocative theatre artists of our time, Anna Deavere Smith, leads a new installation of powerful first person storytelling in Notes From the Field. Beatrice Rivers was a petitioner in the desegregation case Briggs v. Elliot. Notes from the Field by Anna Deavere Smith is a short read, but I promise it packs a punch. Where this technique might have had the effect of Brechtian distancing, Smith embodies her characters so fully that we are not distracted. Smith is a tour de force in these roles, performing switches in characterisation with astonishing fluidity – between men, women, teenagers, black Americans, Native Americans and Latinos – and with blazing passion. I will watch the HBO special, but I didn't find the book all that enlightening. Thomas Jefferson constructed a plan for public education in the Notes on the State of Virginia, as the late philosopher Maxine Greene once pointed out to me. We’d love your help. Laws were one way we looked at the problem of integration six decades ago. Two hundred and fifty interviews later, I sat down to write “Notes From the Field,” with the idea of using the convening power of the theater to bring attention to this matter. The voices form a palimpsest of “broken people” living in a “broken system” that fast tracks black men into a pipeline from school to prison. However as a foster parent, I work to prevent another pipeline and that is the foster child to prison pipeline. They asked the county to pay for gas. For 40 years, I have been creating plays out of fragments of conversations with diverse groups of people from all over the country. These steps have been taken in a landscape of entrenched, intersecting problems of poverty, racial disparity, trauma, overly aggressive policing, and mass incarceration. You can call it an "adjustment disorder". It's more a potent distillation of Smith's meticulous investigate exploration of the American pipeline to prison. The case began in 1947 as a demand for equality in transportation—a story that is easy to remember, once you hear it. This book was brilliant on all levels. Independent Premium Comments can be posted by members of our membership scheme, Independent Premium. She told me about the trauma she suffered as the first Negro to walk the halls of Rivers when she was 15 years old, facing hostility from many students and teachers alike. She is currently the artist in residence at the Center for American Progress. However as a foster parent, I work to prevent another pipeline and that is the foster child to prison pipeline. The assortment of people who Smith interviewed, the content, the music and most of all, the acting. Her performance of this play is brilliantly executed, specific, authentic, driven by clear action and supported by comprehensive study and research uncensored by the opressive forces that drive racism. , The play makes use of real-life footage, which is projected onto the walls around Smith, such as the video of a 17 year-old black girl being flung across the room by a white male officer. What an amazing project and concept turned into a powerhouse of emotion and change.
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