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Second Stage to Host 'In Conversation: Anna Deavere Smith & Elizabeth Alexander' 12/3

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Second Stage to Host 'In Conversation: Anna Deavere Smith & Elizabeth Alexander' 12/3

Second Stage Theatre will host a post-performance conversation between Anna Deavere Smith and Elizabeth Alexander following the Thursday, December 3 evening performance of Let Me Down Easy. A renowned poet, essayist and playwright, Elizabeth Alexander most recently composed and delivered the poem "Praise Song for the Day" for the inauguration of President Barack Obama. The conversation is free to all in attendance at the Thursday, December 3 8:00pm performance.

Conceived, written, and performed by Anna Deavere Smith and directed by Leonard Foglia, LET ME DOWN EASY opened on Wednesday, October 7 and is scheduled to run through January 3. For subscription or ticket information, please call the Second Stage Theatre Box Office at 212-246-4422 or visit www.letmedowneasy.com. Theatre is located at 305 West 43rd street.

Channeling a dramatic range of interview subjects, from artists and athletes to doctors and those they treat, LET ME DOWN EASY is a virtuosic and moving exploration of the power of the body, the price of health, and the resilience of the spirit. With Ms. Smith's trademark journalistic precision, LET ME DOWN EASY features first person accounts from a wide variety of sources, including Lance Armstrong and former Texas Governor Ann Richards.

Charles Isherwood of The New York Times calls LET ME DOWN EASY, "A continually engaging and engrossing collection of testimonials about life experienced at its extremes." Michael Kuchwara of the Associated Press calls the play, "Fascinating! This remarkable new show is a joyous celebration of human perseverance." And Jamie Gangel of The Today Show says, "Run - do not walk - to see this play! Watching Anna Deavere Smith on stage is magical. One minute you are laughing, the next you are crying. It is truly brilliant and stunning."

Anna Deavere Smith's work in the theater explores American character and our multifaceted national identity. She has won numerous awards, among them two Obies, two Tony nominations and a MacArthur fellowship. She was runner up for the Pulitzer Prize for her play Fires In the Mirror. She is said to have created a new form of theater. Her work combines the journalistic technique of interviewing her subjects with the art of interpreting their words through performance. She has appeared on the television shows The West Wing, Presidio Med, The Practice, and the new Showtime television series, Nurse Jackie. Films include Rachel Getting Married, The American President, Philadelphia, The Human Stain, Life Support, and Dave. Her plays include Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992; Fires in the Mirror; and House Arrest. Her books include Talk To Me and Letters to A Young Artist. A professor at New York University, she is also the founding director of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue, a center for artistic excellence addressing social change. She is the recipient of several honorary degrees.

Elizabeth Alexander is a poet, essayist, playwright, and teacher born in New York City and raised in Washington, DC. Alexander has degrees from Yale University and Boston University and completed her Ph.D. in English at the University of Pennsylvania. Most recently, she composed and delivered "Praise Song for the Day" for the inauguration of President Barack Obama. The poem has recently been published as a small book from Graywolf Press. In addition, she has published five books of poems: The Venus Hottentot (1990), Body of Life (1996), Antebellum Dream Book (2001), American Sublime (2005), which was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize and was one of the American Library Association's "Notable Books of the Year;" and her first young adult collection (co-authored with Marilyn Nelson), Miss Crandall's School for Young Ladies and Little Misses of Color (2008 Connecticut Book Award). Her two collections of essays are The Black Interior (2004) and Power and Possibility (2007), and her play, "Diva Studies," was produced at the Yale School of Drama. Professor Alexander is the first recipient of the Alphonse Fletcher, Sr. Fellowship for work that "contributes to improving race relations in American society and furthers the broad social goals of the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954." She is the 2007 winner of the first Jackson Prize for Poetry, awarded by Poets & Writers, Inc. Other awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, two Pushcart Prizes, the George Kent Award, given by Gwendolyn Brooks, a Guggenheim fellowship as well as the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at University of Chicago. She is currently chair of the African American Studies Department at Yale University.

ABOUT Second Stage Theatre


Founded in 1979 under the leadership of Artistic Director Carole Rothman, Second Stage Theatre produces a diverse range of premieres and new interpretations of America's best contemporary theatre, including Tiny Alice and Peter and Jerry by Edward Albee; The Good Times Are Killing Me by Lynda Barry; The Little Dog Laughed by Douglas Carter Beane; Little Murders by Jules Feiffer; The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee by William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin; A Soldier's Play by Charles Fuller; Afterbirth: Kathy & Mo's Greatest Hits by Mo Gaffney and Kathy Najimy; Becky Shaw by Gina Gionfriddo; Painting Churches and Coastal Disturbances by Tina Howe; Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants and On the Stem by Ricky Jay; Next to Normal by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey; Living Out by Lisa Loomer; This Is Our Youth and The Waverly Gallery by Kenneth Lonergan; Some Men by Terrence McNally; eurydice by Sarah Ruhl; Everyday Rapture by Dick Scanlan and Sherie Rene Scott; Saturday Night by Stephen Sondheim; Crowns by ReGina Taylor; Uncommon Women and Others by Wendy Wasserstein; Spoils of War by Michael Weller; Before It Hits Home, Jar the Floor and Birdie Blue by Cheryl L. West; Jitney by August Wilson; Lemon Sky, Serenading Louie and Sympathetic Magic by Lanford Wilson; and Metamorphoses and The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci by Mary Zimmerman. The company's more than 125 citations include the 2009 Tony Awards for Best Score, Best Orchestrations, and Best Actress in a Musical (Alice Ripley) for Next to Normal, the 2007 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play (Julie White, The Little Dog Laughed), 2005 Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical (Rachel Sheinkin, ...Spelling Bee) and Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Dan Fogler, ...Spelling Bee), 2002 Tony Award for Best Director of a Play (Mary Zimmerman for Metamorphoses), the 2002 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Body of Work, 23 Obie Awards, four Outer Critics Circle Awards, two Clarence Derwent Awards, nine Drama Desk Awards, five Theatre World Awards, 11 Lucille Lortel Awards, the Drama Critics Circle Award and 15 AUDELCO Awards.

In 1999, Second Stage Theatre opened its state-of-the-art, 296-seat theatre, designed by renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. In 2002, Second Stage launched "Second Stage Theatre Uptown" series to showcase the work of up and coming artists at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre. The Theatre supports artists through several programs that include residencies, fellowships and commissions, and engages students and community members through education and outreach programs.

Second Stage Theatre AT THE Helen Hayes

Second Stage Theatre recently announced that it has acquired the right to purchase the historic Helen Hayes Theatre, located at 240 W. 44th Street. With this new home, Second Stage will be the only theatre company on Broadway dedicated exclusively to the development and presentation of contemporary American theatrical productions. Second Stage will also become one of only four non-profit theatre companies that own and operate theatres on Broadway. The company will continue to lease and operate their original theatres on the city's Upper West Side and in Midtown Manhattan.

Photo credit: Walter McBride

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