Anna Deavere Smith, a world-renowned actress, author and playwright, will present “A Conversation on Race and the Arts” at 4 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Lied Center for Performing Arts. The forum will be moderated by Sändra Washington, Lincoln City Council member, and is co-sponsored by the Lied Center.
The free public event is part of the 2021-22 E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. To order tickets, click here, call 402-472-4747 or visit the Lied Center box office, 301 N. 12th St. The Thompson Forum is general admission, with seating on a first-come, first-served basis.
In addition to the E. N. Thompson event, Smith will present a mainstage performance, “Notes from the Field,” at 7:30 p.m. at the Lied Center. Tickets are available for purchase through the Lied Center.
Smith is credited with creating a new form of theater, combining the journalistic technique of personal interviews and the art of interpreting those perspectives through performance. Her most recent original work, “Notes from the Field,” examines the “school to prison pipeline,” exploring the vulnerability of youth, the criminal justice system and contemporary activism. The New York Times named the stage version among the best theater of 2016 and TIME Magazine called it one of the top 10 plays of the year. HBO premiered the film version in February 2018, and it was nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award.
Smith is also an actress whose credits include ABC’s “For the People” and “Blackish,” NBC’s “The West Wing,” Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie” and the films “The American President,” “Rachel Getting Married,” “Philadelphia,” “Dave,” “Rent” and “Human Stain.”
In 2012, President Barack Obama awarded Smith the National Endowment for the Humanities Medal, and she is a recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. Other awards include the 2013 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for achievement in the arts, the George Polk Career Award in Journalism and the Ridenhour Courage Award. In 2015, she was named a Jefferson Lecturer, the nation’s highest honor in the humanities. She has been given honorary degrees from Yale, Juilliard, the University of Pennsylvania, Smith College and Spelman College. Smith is a professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she is the founding director of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue.
This year’s Thompson Forum series, “Moments of Reckoning: Global Calls for Racial Equity and Action,” features five explorations into historical and contemporary cases of discrimination. The series kicked off Sept. 1 with a panel discussion featuring Husker faculty and continued with Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia on Nov. 2. It continues with a panel featuring Lincoln-area youth at 7 p.m. March 22 at The Bay, 2005 Y St.; and a talk by Walter Echo-Hawk, a Native American rights attorney, tribal judge and law professor, at 7 p.m. April 6 at the Lied Center.
All events are free and open to the public. The university will follow the latest public health guidance from the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department. For more information, click here. Event summaries and full biographical information on each speaker is available here.
Events are streamed on the Thompson Forum website and available on NET, LNKTV City and LNKTV Education. Events are also accessible on campus channel 4 and KRNU radio 90.3 FM. All talks are interpreted or will have closed captioning for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.
The E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues is a cooperative project of the Cooper Foundation, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lied Center and University Honors Program. The series was established in 1988 with the purpose of bringing a diversity of viewpoints on international and public policy issues to the university and people of Nebraska to promote understanding and encourage discussion.