Actress and performance artist Anna Deavere Smith (Nurse Jackie) will direct a two-night Public Forum event on May 30 and 31 called Talking About Race: Science, Politics, Art 1950–1970–2014. Presented with Smith, Works at the Aspen Institute, The American Museum of Natural History, and support from the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue at New York University, the evenings will be held in the Public's Anspacher Theater.
Directed by Smith in her style of documentary theater, each night will begin with actors performing excerpts from Mike Wallace's 1959 interview with playwright Lorraine Hansberry about the success of A Raisin in the Sun and Margaret Mead's 1970 "rap on race" with James Baldwin. The historical conversations will be performed by David Aaron Baker (Mike Wallace), Meg Gibson (Margaret Mead), Brian Tyree Henry (James Baldwin), and Katherine Ella Wood (Lorraine Hansberry).
On May 30, the conversations will be followed by a discussion between Smith and psychologist Steven Pinker about race and language in 2014. On May 31, the conversations will be followed by a talk about race through the lens of contemporary science, with Dr. Victor G. Carrion of Stanford University, Dr. Rob DeSalle of the American Museum of Natural History, and Dr. Evelynn M. Hammonds of Harvard University.
Following the two-night run at The Public, Talking About Race will be presented at the Aspen Ideas Festival in June.
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