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Anna Deavere Smith's documentary investigation of race, class and religion performed at Princeton

(Princeton, NJ)  Princeton University’s Program in Theater presents Anna Deavere Smith’s Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Other Identities. Performances are March 4 - 7 at 8:00 p.m. and March 6 at 2:00 and 8:00 p.m. in the Marie and Edward Matthews ’53 Acting Studio at the Lewis Center for the Arts at 185 Nassau Street. Tickets are $10 for the public and $8 for students. For advance tickets, please call University Ticketing 609.258.9220. Seating is limited.

Directed by Program faculty member R.N. Sandberg, Fires in the Mirror reflects on a horrific series of events that took place in August 1991 in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. A car in a rabbi’s motorcade went out of control and killed an African-American boy. In retaliation, a Jewish student was slain. Riots and upheaval shook the Jewish and the African-American communities, and the entire city of New York. In Fires in the Mirror, Smith, a recent speaker in the university’s Public Lecture series, explores race and identity in the aftermath of the tragedy in a uniquely theatrical way. Based on interviews she did with members of the communities and others, the play allows us to hear the voices of  two dozen people. They speak directly to the audience in their own words, creating a raw, multi-faceted portrait of what it means to live in a diverse and often polarized urban America.

Fires in the Mirror will be performed by Philicia Saunders, an East Asian Studies major pursuing a certificate in Theater, as her senior creative thesis. Saunders plays all roles, as Smith did, from a Caribbean-American self-styled teenaged “bad boy” to an elderly Hassidic rabbi, from the Australian brother of the slain student to the Reverend Al Sharpton. It is a powerful, provocative piece of theater which the New York Times has called “the most compelling and sophisticated view of urban racial and class conflict…that one could hope to encounter. [Fires offers] ...spectacular further proof…that the American theater is rising to illuminate these rancorous times with a vitality that may be equaled but is certainly not surpassed by any of our other native arts.”

Performances of Fires in the Mirror are Thursday through Sunday March 4 – 7 at 8:00 p.m. and Saturday, March 6 at 2:00 and 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 for the public and $8 for students. For advance tickets, please call University Ticketing 609.258.9220. Seating is limited.

The Lewis Center for the Arts is part of a major initiative announced by President Shirley M. Tilghman in 2006 to fully embrace the arts as an essential part of the educational experience for all who study and teach at Princeton University. The Lewis Center for the Arts will have a significant impact on the University and the larger community it serves. The public is welcomed to a full range of lectures, exhibitions, concerts and performances at the Center. Many of the Center’s events are free or charge a nominal admission fee.

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