Atkinson Lecture Series Featuring Anna Deavere Smith

Playwright, actor, professor Anna Deavere Smith will deliver the Friday, Feb. 22, Willamette University Atkinson Lecture in Hudson Hall, Mary Stuart Rogers Music Center, at 8 p.m. A book signing will follow her lecture.

Hailed by Newsweek as "the most exciting individual in the American theater," playwright and performance artist Anna Deavere Smith uses her singular brand of theater to explore issues of race, community and character in America. In creating her shows, Smith combines the journalistic technique of interviewing subjects from all walks of life with the art of recreating their words in performance, ultimately, presenting controversial events from multiple points of view.

In 1996, Smith was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Foundation "genius" Fellowship for creating "a new form of theater -- a blend of theatrical art, social commentary, journalism and intimate reverie." She is best known as the author and performer of two one-woman plays about racial tensions in American cities - "Twilight: Los Angeles 1992" (Obie Award-winner and Tony Award nominee) and "Fires in the Mirror" (Obie Award-winner and runner-up for the 1993 Pulitzer Prize). Both plays are part of her continuing series, On the Road: A Search for the American Character.

In her lectures, Smith presents selected characters from her plays, giving audiences rare insights into the attitudes and perceptions of ordinary people on race, class and gender.

In addition to her theatrical work, Smith has appeared in the films "Dave," "Philadelphia" and "The American President." The film version of "Twilight" premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. Most recently she has appeared on TV's "The Practice" and is often seen on "The West Wing."

In 1998, Smith founded the Institute on the Arts & Civic Dialogue based at Harvard. Founded in association with the Ford Foundation, the Institute's mission is to explore the role of the arts in relation to vital social issues.

Smith is a tenured professor in the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, with an additional affiliation at the NYU School of Law.

For ticket information, please call 503-370-6300.