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Distinguished Lecture: Anna Deavere Smith

  • Date: Tuesday, March 15, 2011
  • Time: 7:00 pm
  • Location: Center for Faith and Life—Main Hall

Anna Deavere Smith, internationally renowned playwright, actor and educator, will present the Luther College Distinguished Lecture Tuesday, March 15, at 7 p.m. in the Center for Faith and Life main hall.

The lecture, "Journey to Us: Transforming Possibilities," celebrates 75 years of coeducation at Luther. 

Smith's lecture is open to the public with no charge for admission. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

"Journey to Us" includes theatrical performance elements as Deavere Smith steps away from the podium, transforming herself into characters she has created and selected for the presentation.

These living portraits of both legendary and everyday people illustrate and illuminate the theme of the lecture as she captures and embodies people's stories to share about community, diversity and character in America.

The lecture is sponsored by Luther's Humanities Endowment Distinguished Lecture Fund, women and gender studies department and campus programming.  

A book-signing session with Smith will follow the lecture.

Deavere Smith will also participate in an event titled "A Conversation with Anna Deavere Smith" at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 15, in the Center for Faith and Life recital hall.  She will be interviewed by Robert Larson, professor of theatre, and Lise Kildegaard, professor of English.

The conversation is open to the public with no charge for admission.

Deavere Smith has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Fellowship for creating what they describe as "a new form of theatre—a blend of theatrical art, social commentary, journalism and intimate reverie."

She has a recurring role on the ABC series "The Practice," played national security advisor Nancy McNally on NBC's "The West Wing" and has appeared in films such as "Rachel Getting Married," "Philadelphia," "The Kingdom" and "The American President."

Deavere Smith has appeared on the "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and was featured on the PBS series "NOW" in a program titled "Anna Deavere Smith on Art and Politics."

She is the author and performer of two one-woman plays about racial tensions in America. Her play "Fires in the Mirror" was an Obie-winner and runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize, and her play "Twilight: Los Angeles 1992" was an Obie-winner and Tony Award nominee.

She is founding director of Anna Deavere Smith Works, a nonprofit organization that convenes artists whose work addresses the world's most pressing problems.

Deavere Smith has been awarded honorary degrees from six colleges and universities, including Northwestern, Smith and Bryn Mawr.

She has served as the Ann O'Day Maples Professor of the Arts at Stanford University, has taught at Carnegie Mellon and the University of Southern California and was artist-in-residence at MTV networks from 2001-04.

Currently a tenured professor at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, Deavere Smith founded the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue at Harvard, now at New York University.

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