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Brown Lecture Series: Anna Deavere Smith

FREE tickets for Zoom Webinar or Facebook Live go on sale October 13 at 9am. Registration required. Click here to register.

Playwright, actor, and educator Anna Deavere Smith uses her singular brand of theatre to explore issues of community, character, and diversity in America. The MacArthur Foundation honored Smith with the “Genius” Fellowship for creating “a new form of theatre — a blend of 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. In her speaking events, Smith discusses the many “complex identities of America,” and interweaves her discussions with portrayals of people she has interviewed to illustrate the diversity of emotions and points of view on controversial issues.

Her most recent play, Notes from the Field, looks at the School-to-Prison Pipeline and injustice and inequality in low-income communities. Winner of an Obie Award and the 2017 Nortel Award for Outstanding Solo Show, Notes from the Field was named one of the Top 10 Plays of the year by Time magazine. The film adaptation of Notes from the Field is available through HBO, while the paperback adaptation, Notes from the Field, is a collection of students and teachers, counselors and congressmen, preachers and prisoners, discussing their direct and indirect experiences with the School-to-Prison Pipeline. 

Currently, Smith appears on ABC’s hit series Black-ish and the ABC legal drama For the People. She is probably most recognizable as the hospital administrator on Showtime’s Nurse Jackie and the National Security Advisor on NBC’s The West Wing. Her films include The American PresidentRachel Getting Married, and Philadelphia.

Presented in partnership with CityLit Project.

Send questions for Anna Deavere Smith to by October 26, to be answered during the live program.

ASL interpretation will be available to attendees.

The Brown Lecture Series is supported by the Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown Foundation.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020 at 7:00pm to 8:00pm

Virtual Event
Event Type

Brown Lecture Series, Women's History, Virtual Event

Age Group

Adults, Seniors

Compass Category

Writers LIVE at the Library

Event Publisher

Tracy Dimond - for Adults

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David Fishman

David Fishman left a positive review 10/26/2020

She was remarkably great.

John Shields

John Shields left a positive review 10/26/2020

I had seen ADS many years ago here at the Walters Art Museum and was super impressed and was anxious to hear her again. The nuances of her voice and gestures are amazing. Thank you for bring her here to Charm City.
Her message of "grace" is so needed today in our polarized nation, and city.


Lorri left a positive review 10/26/2020

It was great!

Janis Gregg Pressley

Janis Gregg Pressley left a positive review 10/26/2020

I have wanted to see Ms. Anna Deavere Smith for years and never had the opportunity. The performance and Q&A were delightful, exciting, illuminating, and insightful. I truly appreciate Enoch Pratt free Library for facilitating it.

Christopher Providence

Christopher Providence left a positive review 10/26/2020

This program was excellent, and the theme of "Reclaiming Grace" was most appropriate. Ms. Deavere Smith's ability to channel the spirits and voices of the people she has interviewed---including Rev. Peter J. Gomes, Jessye Norman, and John Lewis---was simply amazing.

Matthew-Daniel Stremba

Matthew-Daniel Stremba left a positive review 10/26/2020

I have a bias. Anything Ms. A.D. Smith does always captivates me. Even her role on "Nurse Jackie"—absolutely loved it. Last night's was gripping, moving. Hers is not just talent but a palpable soul that communicates especially well!
Thank you for the presentation.
Matthew-Daniel Stremba
Baltimore City

Jan Wilkotz

Jan Wilkotz left a positive review 10/26/2020

The lecture was inspiring, uplifting--and those are overworked words I seldom use. The term "subime" came to me afterwards; I couldn't spend the rest of the evening, as I'd planned, on pleasant but trivial entertainment.

Linda Grant

Linda Grant left a positive review 10/26/2020

It was great and I hope to hear Ms. Smith again!

Gregg Wilhelm

Gregg Wilhelm left a positive review 10/26/2020

It's tough to engage audiences through Zoom, but WOW did Anna Deavere Smith BRING IT ! The John Lewis performance was particularly powerful/moving. Perfect program heading into the Nov. 3 election. Thank you Pratt Library and CityLit Project!

Elizabeth DuVerlie

Elizabeth DuVerlie left a positive review 10/26/2020

I enjoyed it very much, and the one-hour time frame was welcome--and respected.