Thursday, October 6, 2022

PBS to Air Special Encore of Anna Deavere Smith’s ‘Twilight: Los Angeles’

Anna Deavere Smith as Cornel West in “Twilight: Los Angeles.”
Anna Deavere Smith as Cornel West in “Twilight: Los Angeles.”

*A film adaptation of Anna Deavere Smith’s one-woman classic “Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992” will get a special rebroadcast on PBS this Friday (June 12) to mark the 23rd anniversary year of its theme – the Los Angeles riots.

The show’s June 15, 1993 premiere in LA’s Mark Taper Forum made national news for its unconventional, multi-layered look at the aftermath of the Rodney King trial and subsequent unrest.

As with all of Smith’s major theater pieces, she takes on the identities of real-life real people that have a connection to the subject. For “Twilight,” she interviewed scores of individuals to include 40 “characters” (from LAPD Police Chief Daryl Gates to a gang member, from Korean store owners to a white juror, from Reginald Denny to Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Dr. Cornel West — black, white, Asian, Latino) using only their words and duplicating their speech patterns, mannerisms, dress, and attitudes.

The format allows Smith to put all of these adversarial folks into one room, so to speak, so that her audience is forced to hear points of view that they might otherwise choose to ignore.

Anna Deveare Smith portrays an activist and a store owner addressing th death of Latasha Harlins.
Anna Deveare Smith portrays African-American activist Gina Rae (aka Queen Malkah) in addressing the death of Latasha Harlins in “Twilight: Los Angeles”

Smith once told us of “Twilight: Los Angeles” and her racially-charged piece “Fires in the Mirror”: “Those were plays where people were very moved, very moved, would come back stage, ‘Oh, my God. I cannot believe that this happened in my country,’ very connected.”

Below, Smith is asked if she considers herself a playwright, since her plays are comprised of interviews and she is not technically writing a script:

The special encore of director Marc Levin’s film adaptation of “Twilight: Los Angeles” airs Friday, June 12 at 9 p.m. ET (check local listings). Smith provides a new introduction to her landmark piece as its themes continue to reverberate powerfully within the context of today’s current events.

The film began streaming online here for the first time ever April 29, the exact anniversary date of the Rodney King events.

Watch a teaser below:




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