LAWRENCE—Known for her ground-breaking solo shows that blur the lines between theater and journalism, Anna Deavere Smith will perform a series of short monologues as part of the Hall Center for the Humanities' 2014-15 Lecture Series.
The actress and playwright will stage "Snapshots: Portrait of a World in Transition" at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 14, at the Lied Center. The event is free and open to the public. The evening is supported by the Sosland Foundation of Kansas City.
Deavere Smith uses text from real-life encounters to create gripping portraits of subjects as diverse as author Studs Terkel, a female convict, a Korean shopkeeper and a bull rider. She has won a MacArthur fellowship, the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Award, two Tony nominations and two Obies. She was runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize for her play "Fires in the Mirror."
Deavere Smith’s creative work reflects a deep commitment to political and social justice. Most recently, she has participated in community events celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., held public discussions about racial conflict in Ferguson, Missouri, and is working on "Field Notes: Doing Time in Education," which targets the “school-to-prison pipeline” that tends to push at-risk children toward the criminal justice system.
She has created more than 15 one-person shows based on hundreds of interviews, most of which deal with social issues. "Twilight Los Angeles," about the Los Angeles race riots of 1992, was performed around the country and on Broadway. Her most recent one-person show, "Let Me Down Easy," focused on health care in the US. She has also starred in "Nurse Jackie," "The West Wing," "The American President," "Rachel Getting Married" and "Philadelphia," among other roles.
Founded in 1947, the Humanities Lecture Series is the oldest continuing series at KU. More than 150 eminent scholars from around the world have participated in the program, including author Salman Rushdie, poet Gwendolyn Brooks, and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Recent speakers have included Stephen Greenblatt, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and Mary Oliver. Shortly after the program’s inception, a lecture by one outstanding KU faculty member was added to the schedule. For information on the series, visit the Hall Center website.