YBCA and Berkeley Rep to Host Town Hall with Anna Deavere Smith, 7/17

YBCA and Berkeley Rep to Host Town Hall with Anna Deavere Smith, 7/17

Berkeley Repertory Theatre and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) present a series of public Town Halls featuring MacArthur Award-winning actress, playwright, and educator Anna Deavere Smith, who will present a staged reading of her work-in-progress, Field Notes: Doing Time In Education: The California Chapter. The evening will be comprised of material collected through Smith's interviews with more than 100 individuals in Northern California who are affected by what has been commonly named the school-to-prison pipeline. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, "There are policies and practices that push our nation's schoolchildren, especially our most at-risk children, out of classrooms and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems." Smith will hold three Town Halls in the Bay Area to spark discussion and increase public engagement with this pressing social issue. At each event, Smith - who will be joined by jazz musician Marcus Shelby, a favorite Bay Area artist - will present a reading of her work and then open the floor for public dialogue. Berkeley Rep will host two invitation-only Town Halls earlier in the month for some of the Bay Area's most influential thought leaders, artists, and policy makers involved in public education and the prison system. Field Notes: Doing Time In Education: The California Chapter was developed with support from The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep's Center for the Creation and Development of New Work

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts will host the third Town Hall for the general public on Thursday, July 17 at 7:00 PM at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard Street. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online at www.ybca.org or by phone at (415) 978-ARTS as of Friday, June 13. Seating is limited.

"We're thrilled to partner with YBCA to shed light on this very disturbing national trend adversely impacting at-risk youth in our communities," says Berkeley Rep Managing Director Susie Medak. "Anna has the incredible ability to get to the core of some of the most critical social-justice issues of our time, and we believe that theatre is the perfect forum for these conversations."

"This is a perfect example of how art can be a catalyst for personal and social transformation by bringing together people from all walks of life," says YBCA Executive Director Deborah Cullinan. "ÝBCA is proud to be able to host a public forum around such an important issue and bring it to the attention of our community."

Anna Deavere Smith, actress/playwright, is said to have created a new form of theatre. Prizes include a MacArthur fellowship, the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Award, two Tony Award nominations, two Obies, and others. Last summer President Obama presented her with the National Humanities Medal. She was runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize for her play Fires in the Mirror. Smith has created over 18 one-person shows based on hundreds of interviews, most of which deal with social issues. Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 - an exploration of the Los Angeles race riots - was performed on Broadway and around the U.S. The touring version of the play was produced by Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Her most recent one-person show, Let Me Down Easy, focused on health care in the U.S. Three of her plays have been broadcast on American Playhouse and PBS' Great Performances. In popular culture she has appeared in Nurse Jackie, The West Wing, The American President, Rachel Getting Married, Philadelphia, and others. Books include Letters to a Young Artist and Talk to Me: Listening Between the Lines. She has received several honorary degrees, including one from Yale University, Juilliard, University of Pennsylvania, Spelman, Williams, Northwestern, and Radcliffe. She serves on the boards of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, among several others. She received the Dean's Medal from Stanford Medical School. She is a university professor at NYU and the founding director of Anna Deavere Smith Works at the Aspen Institute, fostering the meeting of artistic excellence and social change.

Marcus Anthony Shelby is an accomplished teacher, composer, arranger, and bassist who is currently the artistic director and leader of The Marcus Shelby Orchestra, The Marcus Shelby Hot 7, and The Marcus Shelby Trio. Shelby was awarded a 2009 Black Metropolis Research Consortium Fellowship in Chicago to conduct research for his commission to compose "Soul of the Movement." As a 2006 Fellow in the Resident Dialogues Program of the Committee for Black Performing Arts at Stanford University, Shelby conducted research for his commission to compose "Harriet Tubman." Shelby has had the honor of arranging for and conducting the Count Basie Orchestra featuring Ledisi, performing and recording with Tom Waits, and receiving the City Flight Magazine 2005 Award as one of the "Top Ten Most Influential African Americans in the Bay Area." Shelby is also very active in music education and currently teaches at Rooftop Alternative School in San Francisco and the Stanford Jazz Workshop at Stanford University. In March 2013, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee appointed Shelby to the San Francisco Arts Commission.

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