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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

TWILIGHT - A ONE WOMAN PLAY ON THE RODNEY KING VERDICT

"Twilight" is a play that's based on people that Anna Deavere-Smith interviewed not long after the L.A. Uprising of 1992 which occurred in response to the beating of Rodney King, the subsequent murder of LaTasha Harlins, and finally the Rodney King Verdict. 


Each of the personalities captured by Deavere-Smith is based on the exact words the individuals said in their interviews. And while I haven't seen the original tapes, it looks like she must have gotten their delivery and mannerisms down pretty well too.


I cried for real people that I had no intention of crying for **EVER** despite the fact that I knew that some of these people were likely, inadvertently and unconsciously, participants in their own...downfall, for lack of a better word.  
Bobby Green, Lei Yuille, Terri Barnett, Titus Murphy Saved Reginald Denny

I also laughed in a couple of places. And I was damn proud of the two black men and two black
(?)women that saw what was happening to Reginald Denny on television, and decided that their faith left them with no choice but to leave the safety of their own homes to save him and his truck, both.


I remember what happened during the L.A. Uprising. I was following the whole thing, reading constantly while it was happening.


But I'd forgotten that King's beating on March 3 1991 and Harlin's death on March 16, 1991 happened so close together. And I didn't remember that  the appeal to change the sentencing of Soon Ja Du (Harlin's killer) from a slap on the wrist (community service and a $500 fine) to an actual punishment  failed 8 days before the Rodney King Verdict, read on April 29 1992.


But there are  other things I either didn't hear or didn't process because of the emotional devastation or despair I was feeling at that time.

For example:
This play contained the clearest video of Latasha Harlin's final encounter with the Korean woman that killed her, Soon Ja Du, that I've ever seen. I'll have to read more on why Harlins was accused in main stream newspapers of "trying to steal orange juice" in the first place because this conflict appears to have started at the check out counter. And Harlins died with the money to pay, two dollars, in her hand. The footage reminded me so much of Mike Brown and the cigarillos.   

This is cheap (free) and easy history for you and your kids. I hope you make time to see it. Give it 10 minutes and see if you're not mesmerized by Deavere-Smith's performances.
Here is, not a preview, but some of the footage used in the play. A link to the full length video is at the very end of this post.



PBS GREAT PERFORMANCES ANNA DEAVERE-SMITH'S  TWILIGHT


FULL EPISODE -
 http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/twilight-los-angeles-full-episode/3972/