Portfolio Exercise 8: Anna Deavere Smith, Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992

Anna Deavere Smith’s reenactment of this dramatic work is incredibly powerful. I think her choice of words, movements, appearance, and mannerism are very useful tools in communicating the different individuals she is bringing to life which is not easy to do in a one woman show. The fact that all these individuals are real human beings involved in a real situation that was highly publicised makes this even more of a difficult performance to deliver. And, these reenactment strategies are precisely what allow Smith to portray these different characters in such compelling ways. Obviously, one important political implication of her work is the subject matter of the performance and that she is a woman of colour heightens this due to the nature of the trial. The Rodney King trial caused outrage around the globe and in the US and brought attention to the treatment of minorities by the police which was a very political incident in itself. Hence, the fact that Smith chose this matter definitely had important political implications and draw further attention to the issues faced by people of colour in the United States. Moreover, I believe Smith does justice in her performance to the chaos and deeply disturbing violence that incident has ignited. She beautifully portrays people of different socio-economical backgrounds and genders in her performance which certainly is not easy to accomplish. Finally, I was truly captured by the multi-media aspect of the performance. The fact that she wrote and performed the play based on the media coverage of the incident made it even more interesting.

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