Long Island University has announced the recipients of the 69th annual George Polk Awards, recognizing courageous and authentic journalism: Playwright, actor, and educator Anna Deavere Smith was awarded the 35th George Polk Career Award.
Smith, whose interview-based monologue plays have examined important social issues—from racial tensions to deficiencies in the health-care system to, most recently, criminal justice reform—was awarded the prize for bringing journalism to the stage. LIU describes her work as a “highly original and incisive form of journalism.”
Smith’s latest show, Notes from the Field, played an extended, acclaimed run at Second Stage Theatre Off-Broadway last fall. The solo show was created, written, and performed by the award-winning Smith, with music composed and performed by Marcus Shelby and direction by Leonard Foglia.
Notes from the Field was drawn from interviews with more than 250 people and scrutinizes a justice system that pushes minors from poor communities into incarceration. The show depicts the personal accounts of students, parents, teachers, and administrators caught within the challenged system.
Winners of the 2016 George Polk Awards, including Smith, will be honored at a luncheon ceremony at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan April 7.