With no thread to tie this post to other than the fact that I have not written a ceditra entry in some time, I offer the following.
Using my process to randomly select a concept to write about (all I can say is that it does not involve goose entrails), I came across the front page of the Style section of the January 10, 2010, edition of The Washington Post which shows….
[A picture showing a scene from Anna Deavere Smith‘s one-woman show, Let Me Down Easy]
Smith is not the first to tackle these subjects on the stage, but the hook of her show appears to be her ability to mimic others as she channels actress Lauren Hutton and cyclist Lance Armstrong. The review in the Post says that while these and other impressions are formidable, they do little for the impact of the show.
It may not help Smith that she is trying to imitate famous people dealing with the end of life rather than exploring her own emotions about a terminal illness. She can’t do that because she herself is not dealing with such a stark diagnosis, but instead has to use proxies.
Now, can an actress who is not dying of cancer portray a person who is? Of course…that’s why it is called “acting”. However, it does not necessarily mean it has to have the same impact.
In high school, I played the role of Brian, a homosexual dying of a terminal illness, in the play The Shadow Box. As much as I could research the role, I could never give it the same emotional resonance as someone who is dying. As an example, I will offer up Dr. M. Heather Carver in her two shows, Booby Prize and Booby Trap, which deals with how she deals with her own experiences with breast cancer.
As good as I thought I was as an actor (and humble also), I know I could never be as good or have as much as an emotional impact as she can provide.
Knock on wood, I hope I never to have to deal with the issues Smith’s characters and Dr. Carver have had to deal with.