Texas Tech University

Anna Deavere Smith

April 25, 2016 7:00 p.m.
Allen Theatre, TTU Student Union Building

convoPaul Frazier, Associate Vice President of the Division of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement, and his wife (front) exchange stories with guest performer Anna Deavere Smith (rear left) and her stage manager Cyd Cahill (rear right). Photo by Mark McCall Photography


trioDorothy Chansky, Humanities Center Director (left) and Lawrence Schovanec, then-Provost (right), welcomed Anna Deavere Smith (middle) to the reception in her honor. Photo by Mark McCall Photography

Anna Deavere Smith is perhaps best known to television audiences as Nancy McNally on The West Wing and Gloria Akalitus on Nurse Jackie.

In addition to her work in television and film, Smith is said to have created a new form of theatre. Following her interviews with scores of individuals, usually on a topic of civic and political interest, she creates theatre works in which she plays many characters – as many as 52 in one production – representing multiple points of view.

When granted the prestigious MacArthur Award, her work was described as "a blend of theatrical art, social commentary, journalism, and intimate reverie." Her work has been celebrated simultaneously for its journalistic detail as well as its empathic treatment of the people she portrays. David Richard wrote in the New York Times that Anna Deavere Smith "is the ultimate impressionist. She does people's souls."

morganGary Morgan, Museum of Texas Tech University Executive Director, visits with guest performer Anna Deavere Smith following her performance in the Allen Theatre. Photo by Mark McCall Photography

Ms. Smith is University Professor at New York University, where she teaches at the Tisch School of the Arts. She is the founding director of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue, dedicated to supporting artists whose works address social issues and engender civic engagement.

Smith is the recipient of numerous awards, among them the National Humanities Medal, presented to her by President Obama in 2013. She has been the recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Award, The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, two Tony nominations, and two Obies. She was runner up for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for her play Fires In the Mirror. Honorary degrees include those from Yale, Juilliard, Barnard, the University of Pennsylvania, Radcliffe, Wesleyan, Williams College, and Northwestern University.

See more at Anna Deavere Smith: Four American Characters


menLawrence Schovanec, then-Provost, and Paul Frazier, Associate Vice President of the Division of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement, recall favorite moments from the night's performance. Photo by Mark McCall Photography

elbowsAnna Deavere Smith (left) visits with invited guests at the reception which followed her performance sponsored by the Humanities Center. Photo by Mark McCall Photography

quadMark Charney, Dorothy Chansky and Jonathan Marks, School of Theatre & Dance, (L to R) greet Anna Deavere Smith upon her arrival to the reception held in the Dean's Lobby of the Mckenzie-Merket Alumni Center. Photo by Mark McCall Photography

Humanities Center