Anna Deavere Smith, PBS, Great Performances
When Anna Deavere Smith's drama Twilight: Los Angeles premiered in Los Angeles at the Mark Taper Forum, it made national news for its unique and unflinching look at the fallout from the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Not only did Smith capture the tumultuous aftermath of the Rodney King triAl Verdict, she created a searing, innovative and truly American piece of theater.
With the recent passing of Rodney King and in the 20th anniversary year of the Los Angeles riots, Great Performances brings Smith's remarkable dramatic work back to public television viewers across America when it presents an encore presentation of Marc Levin's film adaptation of Twilight: Los Angeles, Friday, August 24 at 9 p.m. ET (check local listings).
Twilight: Los Angeles originally aired on PBS in 2001.
In her acclaimed one-woman show, later directed by George C. Wolfe on Broadway, Smith gives voice to 40 real-life "characters," from a Korean grocer to a Hollywood agent and a juror. Not "mimicry" in the traditional sense, her performance is an account of what and how these people spoke to her in hundreds of interviews. The New York Times has callEd Smith "the ultimate impressionist - she does people's souls."
In a film adaptation that interweaves Smith's virtuoso performance with documentary interviews and footage of then contemporary Los Angeles, award-winning director Marc Levin (Slam, Whiteboys, Thug Life in DC, Brick City, Street Time) deftly transforms Smith's work from stage to screen.
Smith's Twilight: Los Angeles played around the U.S. and on Broadway. It received two Tony nominations, an Obie, Drama Desk Award, the New York Drama Critics Circle's Special Citation and numerous other honors.
Developed for film and television and executive produced by Cherie Fortis (Fires in the Mirror, The Colored Museum) with cinematographer Maryse Alberti (Happiness, Velvet Goldmine) and Tony Award winning production designer Richard Hoover (Dead Man Walking), Twilight: Los Angeles explores the lasting impact of the riots on our national conscience.
When the film first aired on PBS, John Crook of TVData Features Syndicate, enthused, "No matter what your ethnic or political persuasion, give this program 15 minutes - literally, just 15 minutes - and you'll find yourself completely spellbound by the artistry of this extraordinary actress...Most viewers will want to tape it because after watching it for the first time, they won't entirely believe what they have just seen."