Keynote presentation by playwright, actor, and educator Anna Deavere Smith
Snapshots: Portrait of a World in TransitionUniversity of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Prof & Chair, American Studies
Acclaimed playwright, actor, and educator Anna Deavere Smith will give a keynote presentation, “Snapshots: Portrait of a World in Transition,” as the Spring 2021 Dan and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair in Democratic Ideals on Thursday, February 25 at 3:30 p.m. in a Webinar.
Anna Deavere Smith has created a new form of performance that blends theatrical art, social commentary, journalism, and intimate reverie. Best known for crafting more than 15 one-woman shows drawn from hundreds of interviews, Smith turns these conversations into scripts and transforms herself onstage into an astonishing number of characters.
Her most recent play, Notes from the Field, looks at the School-to-Prison Pipeline and injustice and inequality in low-income communities. The film adaptation of this award-winning play is available through HBO, and the paperback adaptation collects voices of students and teachers, counselors and congressmen, preachers and prisoners. Her breakthrough plays, Fires in the Mirror, a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize, and the Tony-nominated Twilight: Los Angeles both tackle issues of race and social inequality that have become touchstones of her work. Her portrayals of patients and medical professionals in Let Me Down Easy delivered a vivid look at healthcare in the United States. Smith’s contributions and achievements have been recognized in the form of numerous awards and honors, including the National Humanities Medal presented by President Obama in 2015, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the MacArthur Fellowship, a.k.a. the “Genius” award.
She is the founding director of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue, which was launched at Harvard University and is now housed at New York University, where she is a Professor at Tisch School of the Arts.
“Smith is an extraordinary artist and an intellectual who grapples with the difficult issues facing American society with compassion and care,” says Peter Arnade, the Dean of the College of Arts, Languages & Letters.
Established in 2005 by the UH Board of Regents, the Dan and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair in Democratic Ideals brings significant public figures to Hawaiʻi to foster public discourse regarding democratic ideals and civic engagement. The chair is housed in the Department of American Studies in the College of Arts, Languages & Letters and the William S. Richardson School of Law at UH Mānoa.
Smith will be in virtual residency at UH Mānoa from February 22-26, during which she will be engaging in moderated conversations with students and faculty in Academy for Creative Media, English, Ethnic Studies, Theatre and Dance, in addition to American Studies and William S. Richardson School of Law. The keynote presentation is free and open to the public and the viewers must pre-register through this link.