But then the great advantage of the form Smith created was the way it allowed her to transcend these limits by treating the utterances of her subjects as "text." Smith side-stepped the issue of impersonation by emphasizing that what she was doing was re-creating, on stage, the delivery of a particular speech - complete with every stammer and hesitation - rather than a particular person. This gave her performances a curiously haunting, post-modern quality: her speakers were both present and absent onstage - it was their perspective, rather than their person, which Smith was, in effect, "curating" into a kind of theatrical exhibit.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Thomas Garvey reviews Anna Deveare Smith's latest piece Let Me Down Easy, which is meditation on the theme of Grace. Along the way, Garvey discusses strengths and weaknesses of the form: