Performances begin October 15 at Second Stage Theatre for the Off-Broadway debut of Anna Deavere Smith’s Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education. The solo show is created, written and performed by the award-winning Smith, with music composed and performed by Marcus Shelby, and direction by Leonard Foglia.
She originally planned to perform the piece in local communities to aid discussion, she told Playbill. “I wasn’t thinking of going into full production,” she said. But then Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, MO, followed by “a series of very disturbing videos we all saw of police officers doing things that seemed reprehensible, particularly to people of color.” So she “decided to go onstage in my old format.”
The show will officially open November 2.
Playwright, actor and educator Smith, whose earlier works have explored racial tensions, law enforcement and deficiencies in the healthcare system, now turns her attention to the school-to-prison pipeline. Billed as “urgent and inspiring,” Notes from the Field depicts the personal accounts of students, parents, teachers and administrators caught within the challenged system. The documentary solo piece is drawn from interviews with more than 250 people and scrutinizes a justice system that pushes minors from poor communities into incarceration.
Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education is a co-production with Boston’s American Repertory Theater, where it was performed August 20–September 17. An earlier version of the work was developed and performed at Berkeley Repertory Theatre under the direction of Leah C. Gardner in the summer of 2015.
Notes from the Field features scenic design by Riccardo Hernandez, costume design by Ann Hould-Ward, lighting design by Howell Binkley, sound design by Dan Moses Schreier, and projection design by Elaine McCarthy.