Smith Makes Philly Debut In LET ME DOWN EASY at PTC, Ends 4/10


Philadelphia Theatre Company continues its 35th Anniversary Season with the Philadelphia debut of Anna Deavere Smith in her one-woman, award-winning show Let Me Down Easy, running March 18 through April 10, 2011 at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre (Broad and Lombard Streets). Directed by Leonard Foglia, the production explores the fragility and strength of the body and the resilience of the human spirit.

Performances end Sunday until April 10. Tickets are $25 -$59, with discounts for students, seniors and groups. Tickets are available by calling the PTC Box Office at 215-985-0420 or visiting

"To write Let Me Down Easy, I interviewed over 300 people on three continents," says Anna Deavere Smith. "My goal was to learn as much about a person as possible by studying the way they speak. My portrayals of the more than 20 people in this one-woman show are all drawn from the words of people who speak to the vulnerability of the human body, the resilience of the spirit, the price of care. The Let Me Down Easy journey began when I was invited to be a Visiting Professor at the Yale School of Medicine. My first thought was, ‘Really, me, a clown, to create something in such a serious elite environment?' I walked away from the experience with an increased compassion for doctor and patient alike. The stories stayed in my heart and became the basis of this play."

Let Me Down Easy is based on interviews with an eclectic range of people, from a heavyweight boxer to a supermodel, and from Texas Governor Ann Richards to legendary cyclist Lance Armstrong. A virtuosic and moving exploration into the power of the human body and the price of health, Smith takes an honest look at some important topics including the steroid scandal, cancer therapies, the impact of Katrina and the ailing American healthcare system with her trademark journalistic precision and poignancy. Let Me Down Easy last year completed a successful run in New York at Second Stage Theatre and was most recently performed at Washington D.C.'s Arena Stage.

"We are truly honored to be presenting the extraordinary Anna Deavere Smith in her long-overdue Philadelphia debut," said Sara Garonzik, Producing Artistic Director of Philadelphia Theatre Company. "With the current struggle to achieve health care for all, her artistry, compassion and advocacy are a most welcome reminder of the underlying tenacity and common humanity we share as a nation."

Anna Deavere Smith is an actress, playwright and author who blends theatrical art, social commentary, journalism and intimate reverie. The recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Award, Smith has performed in film and TV as well as on stage. She currently plays Gloria Akalitus on Showtime's hit series Nurse Jackie for which she was just nominated an NAACP Image Award as Outstanding Supporting Actress. She is probably most recognizable in popular culture as Nancy McNally, national security advisor on NBC's long-running hit The West Wing.

Looking at current events from multiple points of view, Ms. Smith's theater combines the journalistic technique of interviewing her subjects with the art of interpreting their words through performance. These one-woman shows are a part of a series she began in the early 1980s called On the Road: A Search for American Character. Her goal has been to learn as much about America as she can, by interviewing individual Americans from diverse backgrounds, and putting herself in other people's words the way you might think of putting yourself in another person's "shoes." Twilight: Los Angeles received two Tony nominations, an Obie, Drama Desk Award, and a Special Citation from the New York Drama Critics Circle. Fires in the Mirror, examining a race riot in Crown Heights, Brooklyn (1991), when age-old racial tensions between black and Jewish neighbors exploded, received an Obie Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

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