Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department or Program

Graduate Humanities

Department or Program Chair

Joan Baranow, PhD

First Reader

Judy Halebsky, PhD

Second Reader

Chase Clow, PhD


Anna Deavere Smith, American actress, writer, and professor, explores racial conflicts and the nuances that contribute to dissonance and identity politics through her one- woman plays. Employing a journalistic dramatic format of her own, Smith interviews a panoply of people who play major and minor roles involving conflicts. She then brings these interviews to life on the stage. As a high English teacher, I incorporate Smith’s plays Fires in the Mirror and Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 into my eleventh grade American literature class. In this paper, I explain why Smith’s plays help facilitate and nurture important conversations about race for my high school students. This paper explores how Anna Deavere Smith disrupts narratives and dualistic stereotypes of racial conflicts by dramatizing salient lines from her interviews. I argue for the Smith’s plays as powerful educational tools for reinforcing the relationship between knowledge and point of view and for promoting empathy.