Award-winning actress Anna Deavere Smith will be coming to Mercyhurst on April 11, at 7:30 p.m. to present her one-woman show “Reclaiming Grace in the Face of Adversity.”
Smith is an actress, a playwright and an advocate for social justice, and she uses her performances to bring to light the issues that America faces.
To do so, she uses a unique lecture and performance style, in which she addresses the audience as herself between delivering monologues related to the performance’s overarching theme.
This performance will center around people who have shown grace while facing challenges.
Smith’s monologues come from the people she has interviewed over the past three decades and, without the aid of any sort of props, draws verbatim from the recorded interviews.
These monologues are all connected by the central theme, but feature characters who come from many different walks of life.
She is known for her ability to get into the character of the people who she has interviewed, and it has become a trademark of hers in these performances.
Brett Johnson, Ph.D., the director of the Mercyhurst Institute of Arts and Culture, thinks very highly of her skills as an actress.
“She has an uncanny ability to inhabit the people she’s representing onstage, regardless of their race, gender or age. And while her approach to cultural commentary is now widely imitated, she remains the master of the form,” Johnson said.
Johnson also said that “It’s quite a coup for us to be bringing an artist of Smith’s caliber to campus.”
However, Johnson knew that he wanted to get Smith to come to campus when he became the director of MIAC.
He had followed her career since his undergraduate years, and now that she is coming to Mercyhurst, feels confident that the Mercyhurst community will be “challenged and inspired by her performance.”
As members of a university sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercyhurst students will doubtlessly listen to her message with special attention and interest.
Getting such a renowned performer as Smith on campus was not the challenge that one might expect it to have been.
Johnson reached out to her agent, who agreed with him that Smith would be an excellent performer to have in the MIAC Live series.
In fact, Smith’s performance will be the final performance of this season’s MIAC Live series.
“Reclaiming Grace in the Face of Adversity” promises to be a powerful evening of theater with an important message for students and members of the community to hear.
The event is comprised of a 50-minute performance followed by a 20-minute question–and–answer session with Smith.