Anna Deavere Smith's questions

(Please note, because of the time that has passed since I wrote this article, it may no longer reflect my current views or the most accurate and complete information available on this subject.)

Anna Deavere SmithI had the pleasure of seeing actress, playwright and professor Anna Deavere Smith - known for roles on The West Wing and Nurse Jackie among other things - speak and perform today at Earlham College about the role of the artist in society.

She told us of her desire to get people to drop their typical verbal defenses and talk in broken sentences, to interrupt the rhythms of prepared, calculated speech to get to the truth underneath. She said that someone had once given her three questions you can ask someone in a conversation to help make that happen, and I want to share those here:

  1. Do you remember the circumstances of your birth?
  2. Have you ever been accused of something you didn't do?
  3. Have you ever been close to death?

Many thanks to Anna Deavere Smith for a moving and thought-provoking event, and thanks to Earlham for bringing her to Richmond.

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