Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992

by Anna Deavere Smith

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Investigate the controversy that arose in 1991, when a white actor, Johnathan Pryce, was chosen for the lead role in the Broadway production of Alan Boublil and Claude-Michel Shonberg's musical Miss Saigon (1989). Relate the controversy to Smith's practice in her one-woman interpretations of racially diverse characters.

Research the influence of the Los Angeles civil unrest and subsequent events such as the O. J. Simpson murder trial in debates over the need to reform the American jury-trial system.

Investigate the causes and effects of the riots in the Watts district of Los Angeles in the summer of 1965 and the subsequent report of the Kerner Commission. Relate your findings to the civil unrest resulting from the Rodney King trial in 1992.

Research the role of Anna Deavere Smith in the controversy arising from August Wilson's keynote speech before the Theatre Communications Group in June 1996, in which the celebrated playwright argued the need of a separate and autonomous black American theater.

Investigate the influence of the Los Angeles disturbances of 1992 on popular and underground culture, including "gangsta rap" and politically-incorrect humor.

Investigate the depiction of ethnically-mixed, inner-city neighborhoods in recent film and media treatments, including Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing (1989).

Investigate the excessive use of force over the last decade by law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles or any other large American city and what steps have been taken, if any, to rectify the problem.

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