Monday, January 16, 2012

Great performances on TV - Company and Anna Deavere Smith

We had snow yesterday, and today the ground and the cars and the deck and the ivy and the leaves are all covered in a layer of icy encrusted white.

I haven't been feeling well lately, and the sore throat I woke up with sealed the deal. So today I will probably be imbibing warm fluids and taking it easy.

PBS has been showing some wonderful live performances. Last night they showed Sondheim's "Company," and Heather Laws shined as Amy. Here, watch this (my favorite part starts about 1 minute 15 seconds in):

If the embedded video fails to load, click here.

A few days before they showed Anna Deavere Smith's "Let Me Down Easy." If you don't know her work, she invented a kind of documentary theatre. To prepare, she interviews a number of people on all sides of a specific topic -- a socially charged topic -- and then performs their interviews on stage, nervous tics and all.

"Let Me Down Easy," is known as the health care play. Here's the trailer:

If the embedded video fails to load, click here.

It's hard to explain what Smith creates on stage, but it's important work and you should be aware it's happening. These are real people, real stories, and they are not always easy to hear. But I think that's what makes the play so powerful.

"Let Me Down Easy" is theatre at its best: a strong performer giving us insight into universal truths. It's hard to pick my favorite bit, but if I had to pick one, watch Smith's portrayal of Kurtz-Burke starting at 48:35.

Stream "Let Me Down Easy" for free at now

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