Anna Deavere Smith grew up on Bentalou Street on the west side of Baltimore in the 1950s. After graduating from Western High School, she left town to embark on a career that’s included a six-year sting on The West Wing, a MacArthur genius grant, and Pulitzer Prize nominations.
Smith’s work often begins with her conducting dozens of interviews; she then turns those disparate voices into a one-woman show in which she adopts different personas to tell a story from several different angles. (Her TED talk is a great example of this.) Smith is currently working on a protect entitled “Notes From the Field: Doing Time in Education,” about the school-to-prison pipeline in contemporary America. As part of her research, she recently returned to Baltimore where she interviewed everyone from a young man in a juvenile detention facility to former mayor Sheila Dixon. “I felt like I had to come home,” she told an audience at a town-hall gathering at Center Stage.
Smith plans to return to Baltimore for a couple of stage readings in September. Stay tuned!
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