LOUISVILLE, Ky. — University of Louisville Department of Theatre Arts presents “Fires in the Mirror” by Anna Deavere Smith Nov. 7-17 in Thrust Theatre.
The play, which explores perspectives on 1991 riots in New York City, is written as a one-woman show. But director Ariadne Calvano has cast eight actors to portray two or three roles each which are both similar to and different from how they identify, whether by race, gender, ethnicity, class, religion, etc.
“I began the process with a question: Can we ever truly understand something from another person’s point of view?” she said. “The production will challenge the audience to try to shift its perspective, experience and identity, rather than passively sitting in judgment.”
The play is based on riots that occurred in Crown Heights after a Hasidic man’s car jumped a curb, killing Gavin Cato, a black 7-year-old. Later, in what appeared to be an act of retaliation, Yankel Rosenbaum, a Hasidic rabbinical student, was stabbed to death.
The play will contain an interactive element. The app “Poll Everywhere” will gauge audience perspective on complex issues throughout the performance.
There also will be two post-show panel discussions led by UofL dramaturg Janna Segal. On Nov. 8, theater artists will share how Smith’s work has influenced them. Panelists include: Calvano; Janelle R. Dunn, learning and creative engagement associate at Actors Theatre; Diana Grisanti, co-artistic director of Theatre 502 and Keith McGill, Actors Theatre teaching artist.
The second will be Nov. 14 and address how the play resonates with Louisville today. Panelists include Rabbi David Ariel-Joel from The Temple; Cathy Hinko, executive director of the Metropolitan Housing Coalition, and Marian Vasser, UofL director of diversity education and inclusive excellence.
Thrust Theatre is on UofL’s Belknap Campus, 2314 S. Floyd St. All plays start at 8 p.m. with 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday matinees. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $15 for seniors and students. Season tickets are $50. To order tickets or for more information, call the box office at (502) 852-6814 or click here.