Stylistic and Structural Choices in Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Other Identities

Topics: Al Sharpton, Crown Heights riot, Black people Pages: 4 (1592 words) Published: December 12, 2007
Anna Deavere Smith's unique style of drama in her play Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Other Identities integrates theatre with journalism in order to bring to life and examine real social and political events. Each scene is created directly from an interview that Smith had held with the character, although Smith arranges the character's words according to her own purposes. She captures the essence of the characters she interviews, distilling their thoughts into a brief scene that provides a separate and reasonable perspective on a particular situation or idea. Via the stylistic choices made by Smith, the play never depicts the actual accident and the murders and attacks that followed the implications and aftermath are visible within the characters' recollections. John Leonard of New York Magazine says that Smith's juxtaposition of different interview subjects allows the viewer to see "around corners, into recesses" where the social constructs of race, gender, and class identity has kept people from realizing their many commonalities (Leonard). The extremely diverse and seemingly disparate voices extend from the Reverend Al Sharpton to an orthodox Jewish female graphic designer to the father of the child killed in the accident. The dialogue chosen by Smith cuts through the media exaggeration and misrepresentation of both groups with unflinchingly honest and vivid depictions of neighborhood residents with varying stances and statuses. While Smith's dialogue emphasizes the characters' individual differences, she also focuses on the common threads of humor, hope, and despair evident in their words. The book's themes live within the narratives; forgiveness, empathy and personal and community identity are embodied in the memories and opinions that Smith's characters express. The interviews are deftly woven together, leaving the reader with the sense that progress and understanding can truly be achieved. Fires in the Mirror proves the necessity for...
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