Anna Deavere Smith and "Notes From the Field"
Smith’s "Notes From the Field,"* winner of an Obie Award and the 2017 Nortel Award for Outstanding Solo Show, looks at the school-to-prison pipeline and injustice and inequality in low-income communities. Enlightening and empathetic, the film tackles questions of race and class through compelling first-person stories, drawing on the accounts of well-known figures like Rep. John Lewis, NAACP Legal Defense Fund president Sherrilyn Ifill, and activist Bree Newsome, as well as everyday people struggling in a broken system. Time magazine named it one of the Top 10 Plays of the year. In his New York Times review of "Notes From the Field," Ben Brantley called Smith “the American theater’s most dynamic and sophisticated oral historian.”
Playwright, actor and educator, Smith uses her singular brand of theatre to explore issues of community, character, and diversity in America. The MacArthur Foundation honored her with the “Genius” Fellowship for creating “a new form of theatre — a blend of theatrical art, social commentary, journalism, and intimate reverie.”
Best known for crafting more than 15 one-woman shows, based on hundreds of conversations, Smith turns her interviews into scripts, transforming herself into an astonishing number of characters. In 2012, she was awarded the National Humanities Medal, presented by President Obama. In 2015, Smith was named the Jefferson Lecturer, the nation’s highest honor in the humanities. She also is the recipient of the prestigious Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and most recently, the 2017 Ridenhour Courage Prize and the George Polk Career Award for authentic journalism.
*"Notes From the Field" is rated TV-MA (for mature audiences only — may be unsuitable for children under 17)
The Pomona College Board of Trustees endowed the John A. Payton ’73 Distinguished Lectureship in memory of John Payton's life and influential career as a renowned civil rights attorney, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and a member of the Pomona College Board of Trustees, and in honor of David W. Oxtoby, ninth president of Pomona College. This is the second annual Payton Lecture.