In 1991, a Jewish-American man struck two Black American children with his car in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, killing one of them. Days later, a group of young Black men fatally attacked a Jewish-Australian university student. Three days of riots followed. Fires in the Mirror is a one-person play that captures the experiences and views of dozens of people involved in the incidents leading up to, during, and after the Crown Heights riots. In Smith's trademark fashion, she studied and refashioned their accounts to craft these monologues. Still relevant today, it is moving and important to read not just as art but to understand our history and change our future.
Derived from interviews with a wide range of people who experienced or observed New York's 1991 Crown Heights racial riots, Fires In The Mirror is as distinguished a work of commentary on black-white tensions as it is a work of drama. In August 1991 simmering tensions in the racially polarized Brooklyn, New York, neighborhood of Crown Heights exploded into riots after a black boy was killed by a car in a rabbi's motorcade and a Jewish student was slain by blacks in retaliation. Fires in the Mirror is dramatist Anna Deavere Smith's stunning exploration of the events and emotions leading up to and following the Crown Heights conflict. Through her portrayals of more than two dozen Crown eights adversaries, victims, and eyewitnesses, using verbatim excerpts from their observations derived from interviews she conducted, Smith provides a brilliant, Rashoman-like documentary portrait of contemporary ethnic turmoil.
About the Author
Anna Deavere Smith is an actor, a teacher, a playwright, and the creator of an acclaimed series of one-woman plays based on her interviews with diverse voices from communities in crisis. She has won two Obie Awards; two Tony nominations for her play Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992; and a MacArthur Fellowship. Smith was also a Pulitzer Prize finalist for her play Fires in the Mirror. She has worked in television on The Practice and The West Wing, and has had roles in the filmsPhiladelphia, The American President, andThe Human Stain. Smith is the founder and director of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue and is a professor at New York University, with an appointment in the Tisch School of the Arts and an affiliation with the School of Law.