Where opportunity lacks

movie & TV February 11, 2018 01:10

By The Nation

“Notes from the Field”, the adaptation of Tony and Pulitzer Prize nominee Anna Deavere Smith's acclaimed one-woman show of the same name, is coming to the small screen and will debut in Asia at same time as the US. on Sunday, February 25 at 8am with a same day encore at 10:30pm, exclusively on HBO.

The film will also be streaming on AIS Play and AIS PlayBox. 

The HBO Films presentation dramatises the accounts of students, parents, teachers and administrators caught in America’s school-to-prison pipeline, which pushes underprivileged, minority youth out of the classroom and into incarceration. Drawn from interviews with more than 250 people living and working within a challenged system, and featuring Smith’s fearless portrayals of 18 real-life characters, the film shines a light on a lost generation of American youth, hoping to inspire awareness and change.

A full production of Smith’s “Notes from the Field” opened in late 2016 at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and immediately transferred to off-Broadway, opening at Second Stage Theatre in New York.

In HBO’s adaptation of the play, the focus is on the lack of opportunity and resources for young people living in poverty, which often leads them into the criminal justice system.

Enlightening and empathetic, the film tackles questions of race and class through compelling first-person stories, drawing on the accounts of well-known figures like Rep John Lewis, NAACP Legal Defence Fund president Sherrilyn Ifill and activist Bree Newsome, as well as everyday people struggling in a broken system. Culled from hours of interviews conducted by Smith with more than 250 people across the country, “Notes From the Field” showcases her extraordinary gift for transforming herself into diverse characters as she recreates each person’s speech patterns, movements and emotions.

Filmed in front of a live audience and intercut with haunting video footage and photographs, the film features accompaniment by jazz bassist Marcus Shelby.

The full stage production of “Notes from the Field” ran at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge and at Second Stage in New York from August to December 2016. It serves as a centrepiece of Smith’s social-justice initiative “The Pipeline Project”, which began in 2013 and seeks to extend the conversation of pressing issues beyond theatre and into America’s communities.

Smith’s numerous honours include the MacArthur Fellowship, the National Humanities Medal, presented by President Obama, the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, the George Polk Award in Journalism and two Tony Award nominations. She was a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for her play “Fires in the Mirror”. She is Smith is currently a professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.