I began reading Anna Deavere Smith's Fires in the Mirror without doing any pre-reading about the subject of the play or the author. When I read over the long list of "characters" for the play, I thought I would never be able to keep up with who's who. Before beginning to read the first scene, I was unaware that the play was a succession of verbatim monologues from real people. I thought, "Wow, this is different." Honestly, I have probably read about the Crown Heights riots beforein fact I probably saw it on the news or somethingbut I must have forgotten about it. I see so much death, so many murders and acts of hatred and violence chronicled on television that I just can't keep it all in my head. I like to watch the news (for the good & informative stuff), but overall it's so depressing: "Two teenagers charged with the brutal murders of their grandparents
a seven year old girl's body found, the suspect, a known sex offender, remains on the loose
drunk driver kills 4 from a family of five, the only survivor is a 2 year old boy, now without parents or siblings
and on and on
" I take everything so personally that I just can't take very much of the world's evil without going crazy. I think Anna Deavere Smith did a wonderful job in creating Fires in the Mirror. The words may not be hers, but the way she took her interviewees' words and arranged them on the page makes almost the entire play read as poetry. (On a side note: I'm taking a poetry workshop this semester, and I have struggled writing my poems. I think I will use Mrs. Smith's strategy and just talk into a tape recorder and then arrange my ramblings on the page to see what I come up with.) While reading Fires, I was amazed that all of the monologues were verbatim. They are so poignant and so true. Hey, there's a concept
.truth! Of course, it's obvious that truth from one person's perspective is rarely the same as from another's perspective, especially if they are standing on opposite sides of the...