You are here:Special Collections»HIDVL Artist Profiles»Miscellaneous Holdings»Additional Performances»Anna Deavere Smith: Crossing the Lines
Anna Deavere Smith: Crossing the Lines
  • Title: Crossing the Lines
  • Holdings: video (HIDVL)
  • Duration: 01:58:09
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • Date: 14 July 2002
  • Location: Performed at Centro Cultural de la Universidad Católica del Perú in Lima, Peru, on July 14, 2002, as part of the Third Annual Hemispheric Institute Seminar entitled Globalization, Migration and the Public Sphere.
  • Type-Format: performance
  • Cast: Anna Deavere Smith, protagonist ; Renato Rosaldo, narrator ; Carmen Oquendo Villar, Sebastián Calderón, Oliva Pratt Rosaldo, assistants.
  • Credits: Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, producer ; Anna Deavere Smith, creator, director ; Nadia Baram, videographer ; Raúl Gallego, videographer ;

Anna Deavere Smith: Crossing the Lines

In this performance, Smith draws from her well-known works, such as Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Other Identities, to while also conjuring other personalities both known and unknown. Beginning the performance in the role of the author Studs Terkel, Smith goes on to explain that it was a quote from Walt Whitman, about wanting to be absorbed by America, which inspired her to journey across the country and gather stories. She also details how she came to perform at the Hemispheric Institute 3rd Encuentro at the insistence of Diana Taylor. Smith reveals that the experience of performing at the Encuentro helped her realize that there are many Americas and, much like the name of her performance, the lines of nations must be crossed as well. Smith poses the question, when you translate words do you translate experiences?

The experiences she brings to the stage would seem to offer a resounding yes as an answer. As Smith states, she’s been walking in words in order to have the experiences of those words. This performance, she states, is the beginning of a journey of walking in America.

A pioneer in theater who blurs the lines between performance and journalism, Anna Deavere Smith is renowned for her one-woman performances addressing issues of social justice, race, and identity. Based on thousands of interviews she’s conducted around the country in the last two decades, Smith inhabits these people on stage and translates their stories for audiences across the globe. Smith is currently a professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Performing Arts and at the NYU Law School.