Theatre_120_Review_Guide - Theatre 120 Review Guide Fires...

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Theatre 120 Review Guide Fires In The Mirror by Anna Deavere Smith Plot o Takes place in a racially divided neighborhood, Crown Heights. A car driven by a Jewish man veered onto a sidewalk and killed a Caribbean- American boy, Gavin Cato. Protests broke out and a Jewish Australian, Yankel Rosenbaum, was stabbed by a group of blacks and killed. Smith interviews 26 people about the incident, which makes up the monologues of the play. Structure o Monologues are not in chronological order. The play is set up so that it starts with explanations of each culture and characters’ identity. It then goes into different perspectives on the incident. The play ends with monologues of three important viewpoints from Roslyn Malamud, Reuven Ostrov and Carmel Cato. This structure shows the tension building between two very separate groups. Monologues switch off between blacks and Jews, accents and tone of voices shift. o This is not a typical Aristotle plot: there is no beginning, middle or end. The sequence of events are interchangeable. According to Aristotle, this is a simple plot, specifically “episodic”, in which there is no probability or necessity for the order in which the episodes follow one another. Setting o The incident takes place in 1991 in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, a very divided neighborhood. Each interview takes place somewhere different, depending the character’s lifestyle, job, etc. Language, Sounds, Rhythm o This play is written in prose, naturally flowing of speech because each monologue was originally a spoken interview. The language used was stereotypical of each culture. Smith used different accents and tones to portray different characters. o Sound effects such as crying babies and sugar packets were Visual Images o Smith is acting as all characters in the play. She does not use white and black face makeup to differentiate between the characters. Instead, she uses dialect, mannerisms, tone of voice, accent, costume. o For example, the reverend is in a nice office, a graffiti filled basement, Al Sharpton is in front of many mirrors, the Labuvitcher woman was folding laundry. Author o This play is written by Anna Deavere Smith, premiered on PBS in 1993. Playwright’s Life o Smith believed: “Character lives in language. If you say a word enough, it becomes you.” o She believed you become a character through impersonation (mimicry and imitation)
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o Smith started her project, On The Road: A Search for American Character, in 1982. Her goal was to find American character in the ways that people speak. Interpretive Angles o Interpretation of the Title People have a hard time looking in the mirror to evaluate themselves The play is a form of art that reflects the incident, but because it is art it simply acts as a mirror of real life and may be a distortion of what really happened. Observers can’t reach the original event, they can only see the
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Theatre_120_Review_Guide - Theatre 120 Review Guide Fires...

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