Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Notes From the Field


I don’t really know much about Anna Deavere Smith, except that she played a hospital administrator in Nurse Jackie. This is a filming of her one-woman stage show where she dramatized what she calls the school-to-prison pipeline, where poor young black kids seem to have little or no choices in what happens in their lives. I don’t entirely buy the premise, but I agree that it is a problem. She portrays 18 real people in their own words, each telling their part of the problem. And it’s about two-thirds of a good show. Unfortunately she didn’t really seem quite up to handling all 18. Say, 12 are done well. Some of the rest might have been best left on the cutting room floor. She relies heavily on stuttering, and I just don’t believe half the people she is imitating stuttered that badly, and I found that very annoying. I’m not giving it a bad review, but I’m not recommending it, either.